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Preparing youth with life skills


NGO now aims to set up development centre in Sabah to help underprivileged youth

SCIENCE of Life Systems 24/7 (Sols 24/7), a non-profit organisation which provides youths with life skills to prepare them for the corporate world and to improve their quality of life, is expanding its horizon to East Malaysia after being identified as the beneficiary of Berjaya Founder's Day.

Sols 24/7 co-founder and international director Raj Ridvan Singh said with the benefit of a RM1 million fund to be paid over three years, they are excited at the prospects of expanding their current operations in the Peninsular and several Asian countries to Sabah and kick-start the first phase of their project in East Malaysia.

Currently in the midst of identifying a piece of land in Sabah to start the project, Raj spoke of Sols 24/7's ambitious plans for a youth development centre that will be named the Borneo Youth Development Centre.  

Hoping to secure land spanning 6ha to 8ha in Penampang to set up the Borneo Youth Development Centre, Raj said they aspire to be the first to pioneer renewable energy, for example generating its own electricity through micro hydro electric power, filtering their own water source, keeping it green and self- sustainable.

"For Phase One, we are looking at taking in 100 to 1,000 youths in the timeframe of three to five years.

"We hope  to enrol youths from underprivileged backgrounds, not only from Sabah but also from Sarawak and Labuan.

 "Once we get there, we will work closely with the local non-governmental organisations,  villagers, community leaders as well as the people at grassroots level.

"All these activities will be carried out, as well as from Sols 24/7 core programme which provides youths, made up of school dropouts or from underprivileged backgrounds, the opportunity to learn English, Mathematics and computer skills.

"They will also immerse themselves in the Sols 24/7 Smart Programme which focuses on leadership and character building, relationship, sustainability and economical aspects in life.

"The entire programme is for two years and throughout the duration, they are able to develop themselves to be street smart, self-sustained, possess the right attitude and mentality, and attain the necessary skills that will help them socially and professionally," he told Streets recently to mark Berjaya Founder's Day celebrations last Saturday.

Sols 24/7 is a beneficiary of the Berjaya Founder's Day.  

Sols 24/7 was started 12 years ago by Raj, his younger brother, Dhinu Dhanveer Singh and their father, Madenjit Singh in Cambodia, with the aim  to help the poor.

"We were aware that  one of the fundamental skills was the ability to speak English.

"We started to teach them simple English. We began with 16 Cambodian kids and within three to six months, they could speak the language.

"Today, we are operating in countries such as  Timor Leste, Laos, Japan and Singapore.

"Our first training and boarding centre in Malaysia was set up in Malacca in 2007 but we have since moved it to Taman Sri Sinar in Segambut last year.

"We also have community centres in Chow Kit, Selayang, Temerloh in Pahang and Tapah in Perak," he said.

He added that  over 80,000 youths were trained in the span of 12 years.

Fashioned after a dorm schools with youths primarily aged between 17 and 22, Sols 24/7's six-storey training and boarding centre in Taman Sri Sinar  is managed by the youths themselves to instill a sense of responsibility.

On daily basis, the youths cook meals for themselves, dine together as a big family, clean and maintain the centre on their own.

They attend classes  taught by qualified teachers  some of them who are graduate of the Sols 24/7 programme.

Youths who  graduated from Sols 24/7 have moved on to finding administrative jobs  with the skills they have acquired.

Raj said within three months, as much as 96 per cent of graduates had successfully secured jobs in corporate organisations.

Raj said the chance to work closely with Berjaya Cares Foundation, which channels the funds in conjunction with Berjaya Founder's Day, came after learning of Berjaya Corporation Berhad's founder Tan Sri Vincent Tan's passion for the English language and to enhance the lives of the underprivileged.

Raj then wrote to the foundation and laid down their plans to expand Sols 24/7 to Sabah.

Tan, who showed great interest in what Sols 24/7 has been championing, paid a visit to the Taman Sri Sinar training and boarding centre in January this year.

Raj said Tan was impressed with what he saw and the ability of the youths to converse in English in a short span of time.

"Partnering with Berjaya Cares Foundation is helping us reach the masses.

"We are honoured and grateful for such huge opportunity which enables us to do more. We have found the ideal partner in Berjaya Cares Foundation," he said.

Youths at the Sols 24/7 attend classes of sorts such as English and Math, as well as its smart programme, to better themselves in the language and attain skills that makes them employable in the corporate world.

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