In 2019, Malaysia reported that 79% of those living with depression belong to the nation’s B40 demographic yet little attention and intervention is provided to the low-income families living in Malaysia’s People Housing Project (PPR) flats.
I didn’t know much about mental health before the Psychological First Aid (PFA) training. - Mastura Abdul Razak
Mastura, a 39-year-old resident of PPR Seri Perak, Sentul shared that prior to the pandemic, she had little knowledge about mental health and its impact on an individual. Unfortunately, tragedy struck at the height of the pandemic in 2020.
During the pandemic, one of the residents jumped to her death. It was a time when everyone was struggling internally and there was no place they could turn to. - Mastura Abdul Razak
The tragedy that befell the PPR Seri Perak was a much-needed wake-up call for the community. That is why, YTL Foundation partnered with HumanKind, a local NGO to introduce Psychological First Aid (PFA) training for community leaders in the housing area.
Mastura and 11 other community leaders took part in the PFA training over the course of one year. The training helped them recognise and respond to people experiencing mental stress and ways to support others through a crisis. During the training, community members were also trained to develop their listening skills and given a list of credible organisations to contact for professional support.
We listen and direct them to the correct channels, such as Teledera if there are abuse cases. We have learnt to withhold suggestions that could lead to more problems. We provide social support and assist those reaching out to get proper help. - Mastura Abdul Razak
Mastura is a long-time resident of PPR Seri Perak. It is the only home she has ever known. She learned to crawl and read her first book, go to school, get married and have her own children while living there. She witnessed its residents growing older, younger generations moving out and new neighbours moving in.
I was born in Hospital Kuala Lumpur and have lived in PPR Seri Perak my whole life. I grew up and attended a preschool here. - Mastura Abdul Razak
Despite living there for more than three decades, Mastura acknowledges that in her earlier years she barely knew her neighbours because life was hectic as a newlywed and young mother.
In the past, I barely interacted with my neighbours or other residents in PPR Seri Perak. Once I get off work, I’ll quickly return home. Even on the weekends, when there were community events, I rarely joined them. - Mastura Abdul Razak
Just before the pandemic in 2020, Mastura quit her job as an assistant in her aunt’s café and decided to spend more time at home caring for her three children. With more time to spare, she seized the opportunity to reconnect and build stronger bonds with her community. Mastura volunteered with the Seri Perak Kelab Belia (Youth Club), an active association with over 127 members. In addition to this involvement, she also volunteered at the multipurpose hall donated by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to the PPR Seri Perak community.
In 2020, the space was rejuvenated by YTL Foundation and Sentul Raya Sdn. Bhd., in collaboration with the Federal Territories Ministry, DBKL and Polis DiRaja Malaysia (PDRM). It was given new life with brightly coloured walls adorned with playful furniture and a variety of activities each week.
We use the space for different activities – reading classes, Quranic classes and tuition classes for the young. Sometimes, it is also a space where the adults get together to bake cookies and stir bubur lambuk during Ramadan together. - Mastura Abdul Razak
Some of the activities that Mastura managed include the Nutrition and Play programmes, established in 2020. The programmes were organised by Mastura and other community leaders of the PPR, in collaboration with YTL Foundation, Sentul Raya Sdn. Bhd., Toy Libraries Malaysia (TLM) and International Medical University (IMU).
Pregnant women and parents of PPR Seri Perak were encouraged to participate in the ‘1000 days’ nutrition programme, developed to educate parents about the value of nutrition to the development of their children especially within the first 1000 days of their birth. The Play programme also known as the Toy Library programme was introduced with the intention of facilitating the development of the children of PPR Seri Perak and closing the gap through regular and constructive playtime.
However, the pandemic curbed the progress of the programme. Nonetheless, Toy Libraries Malaysia and IMU collaborated with Mastura to host World Play Day 2022 at RuangKITA, for the PPR Seri Perak community.
On this day, TOY EIGHT, a Japanese educational company carried out a digital child development assessment for children between three and five years old. The assessment was designed to determine if children have experienced developmental loss in learning and/or delays in their physical, social-emotional, cognitive and linguistic development owing to the COVID-19 lockdown measures.
Mastura has dedicated her time and energy in ensuring that RuangKITA is a community space that brims with children’s laughter and a safe space for the residents to gather, connect and learn as a community.
It’s perfect for mothers who don’t work to mingle and collaborate with others. We can fill oru free time and work together to create programmes that would benefit the surrounding community. - Mastura Abdul Razak
RuangKITA is also a safe space for neighbours to share their concerns, worries and cares. Those who walk through the doors of RuangKITA can now approach Mastura or any of the community leaders who are trained in PFA to have a conversation.
Community leaders have been empowered to become trusted confidants for those in need. There’s an ongoing shame in the community that discourages them from sharing their problems. But thankfully, we are seeing it change. Not many but a few are reaching out to express their life difficulties.
- Mastura Abdul Razak
The PFA training has helped Mastura become a better caregiver to those around her. With better listening skills and greater empathy towards others, Mastura is also beginning to see that transformation in how she relates to her husband and two teenagers. After the PFA training, I saw changes in myself. Previously, I was quick to react but nowadays, I would reflect on my actions. A welcoming change that my spouse pointed out and also a necessary skill when dealing with teenagers at home.
- Mastura Abdul Razak
Mastura realised that when someone is going through a difficult time, it is more important to listen with no judgement or biasness. When our neighbours wanted to express their life difficulties, we let them do so without judgement. I can see how it helps them. It just shows how much people want to be heard.
-Mastura Abdul Razak
Reaping the benefits from the training and knowledge received from PFA, Mastura believes it is essential for more PPR residents to be empowered with the same skills that PFA has given her. For Mastura, there is a desire to help more neighbours as many are still hesitant to reach out for help. Sometimes I do feel upset when we can’t help much. But it is empowering when they thank us for listening and tell us how our encouragement has helped them!
- Mastura Abdul Razak
Mastura is a prime example of why YTL Foundation continues to seek out opportunities to reach communities it can impact. An individual’s inspiration to build a better community and willingness to work with others has seen RuangKITA become a safe space for the PPR Seri Perak community. Indeed, there is hope in building resilient communities among the low-income households in urban Kuala Lumpur.
Institute of Public Health. National Health Morbidity Survey: Adolescents Health And Nutrition Survey. (2018). Link