During my first term as MP in Lembah Pantai, I was fortunate to have collaborated with the wonderful people of MyKasih Foundation.
Shafinaz Suhaimi and her team of dedicated professionals introduced me to the world of conditional cash transfers (CCT).
Imagine a world where we can disburse payment through the recipient’s MyKad for purchase of groceries, where household items are given on the condition that kids have to go to school and where mothers learn financial literacy from Bank Negara Malaysia.
The CCT programme offers a way out for those stuck in poverty, especially poor women.
The purpose of cashless transactions is to provide transparency for donors so they know exactly where their money is going to, and to make receiving money easy for recipients.
MyKasih has a variety of aid programmes, from food aid, which focuses on providing funds to poor families for use at specific outlets, to bursary programmes which target underprivileged children, seeking to alleviate the burden of purchasing school supplies.
MyKasih supplements its programmes with workshops, including those on financial education, health awareness, skills training and youth development, in a targeted attempt to get low-income groups out of poverty.
Other programmes are conducted with the goal of improving options for poor families through interventions in health, nutrition and education.
The Lembah Pantai MyKasih programme has helped hundreds of people in the constituency and has fostered an environment for underprivileged children and families to grow into more capable members of society.
Once it is given a national platform and focus, it is sure to help even more.
MyKasih provides a variety of aid to those in need, from food aid, to skill training and youth development.
The key thrust of the MyKasih programme are the conditions — recipients must ensure they continue to improve their lives, be it through continued school attendance, scholarly improvement, or a financial literacy course for mothers.
This programme was — and continues to be — aimed at those who need it the most, with the belief that investments are being made in these people.
After all, what good is a nation that does not invest in its people? What benefit is there for a state that considers its most underprivileged group to be a drain on society, best left ignored?
Children are the ones who benefit the most from this CCT programme, even if these benefits come indirectly.
With the express condition that they stay in school to receive the bursary aid, they are instilled with the ethics to focus on their studies.
Once the mothers are more financially savvy, they are able to come up with a holistic budget that benefits the whole family. Regardless of who within the family receives direct growth in their capabilities and skills, the advantages trickle down to the children in one form or another.
We must always think about how we can better the nation through its people, and one of the best ways to do so is through the children.
Our children are our future, and it will always be wise to remember that we will always be limited as a nation by what we’ve invested in the future generation. We must always think of the children because they are the future of Malaysia.
I look forward to a future of aid, under the purview of the women’s ministry, that is not only efficient but targeted and, most importantly, empowers #MalaysiaBaharu.
Nurul Izzah Anwar is Permatang Pauh MP.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.