SIXTEEN-year-old Mok Mei Ye beamed proudly as she handed a piece of artwork to MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.
“I worked on it last night with the help of my friend Evon Tseng,” said Mok, who is from the Ti-Ratana Welfare Society.
Mok said that when she found out the day before that she had to produce a souvenir for Dr Chua who was visiting the home, she started painting at about 9pm and burned the midnight oil to finish the painting.
Mok and Tseng, 15, were some of the children from various children’s homes who take up lessons in music, arts, dance and drama at the StART Society.
Foetus International chairman and Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia (4As) president Datuk Vincent Lee started the centre in Petaling Jaya more than a year ago to nurture underprivileged children through music, art and drama.
“Many homes give children the basic educational needs and the children are not taught to explore their creative talents,” said Lee.
He said that learning how to paint, sing, dance, act and play music helped to give the children, many of whom came from troubled or disadvantaged backgrounds, a confidence boost.
According to StART programme director Joshua Lee, the centre has three full-time employees and 12 part-time teachers.
He said that while the children have fun attending classes, the commitment by the people from the homes also played an important role.
“Children will be children and many of them have a very short attention span. It is up to their minders to bring them to the classes and give them that extra push to keep going,” he said
Lee added that they hoped to open up more centres in other states.
“One of our biggest hurdles is funding. For now, Foetus International is fully funding it and we also have other well-wishers contributing in cash and kind,” he said.
Dr Chua took a tour of the premises which has separate studios for art, keyboards, drums, dance and drama classes.
“By nurturing the children’s artistic talents and letting them learn new skills, the centre provides the children with a good foundation towards a better life,” said Dr Chua.
The StART students also performed a dance, a drama and a song for their special guest.
Dr Chua said that he would undertake a mission to raise RM200,000 for the centre.
THE STAR (Monday October 18, 2010)