“Welcome to Project B!” Pastor Elisha Satvinder stood at the front of the four week old café that was filled with friends, supporters, and sponsors of the Dignity for Children Foundation.
Having received encouraging feedback from customers since their opening on June 2nd, Project B held a thanksgiving and dedication service on their premises on Monday, June 29.
Project B is a social enterprise that is also a training place for students learning F&B vocational skills at Dignity for Children Foundation, which is a learning centre started by Ps. Elisha and his wife, Petrina, in efforts to improve the quality of life among the urban poor.
Now in their seventeenth year as a community center of intervention through quality education, Dignity for Children Foundation has transformed many lives. People who have visited the learning centre can testify that their students exude a kind of boldness, confidence, and clarity that even university graduates sometimes do not demonstrate.
“This whole project came about in a very interesting way,” Ps. Elisha said. He went on to tell the story of how Dato’ Sri Robin Tan of Berjaya Corporation Berhad, upon visiting their learning centre, had been very impressed by the meal served by the Dignity team. When he saw the little kitchenette they were working out of, however, he said, “This is not good!”
Their hearts sank, thinking that he did not like anything he had seen or tasted, but he went on to say, “It is not right for you to be cooking out of this small kitchen.” “So this started with God moving on Dato’ Sri Robin’s heart saying, ‘Do something more.’” Pastor Elisha related. “Within the month, they had secured this building, but wanted to keep it a secret before surprising me.
“Berjaya very graciously bought the whole building and actually gave us a grant of almost half a million Ringgit to do the renovations. And then, the whole friendship and partnership with Benjamin from the BIG group of companies came in and they brought their top chefs, baristas, and customer service team to train our students. So you are eating some quality stuff!” Ps. Elisha exclaimed. Indeed, were served with some delicious nasi lemak with a choice of Signature Crunch, Spicy Berembah, or Korean chicken.
He then explained the concept of connecting vocational training with the Dignity for Children Foundation. They have started a hair salon, a woodwork center, an embroidery and sewing programme, and in a few weeks, award winning landscape architect, Sek San, and his team, will be coming to teach the students urban gardening and transform their surrounding compound.
“It’s all about bringing transformation with various expressions of redemption,” Ps. Elisha said. “Sometimes we think it’s just four walls in the church, but in our journey, there are so many things with which you can engage.
“We may think that we are just giving X amount of money when we commit to ‘empower a child,’ but we often fail to see that we are actually seeding them to succeed—partnering with them in their journey. They may never see your face, they may never know your name, but your act of empowerment translates into things like Project B, the hair salon, various programmes, our classrooms, and many other things.
“Everything that happens here is a journey of empowerment, transformation, and helping these children to succeed. I can tell you amazing stories about empowering people to have a different life. Most of them, left to themselves, will not make it. The only intervention they have forces them into different vices.”
Many of these children drop out of school very quickly, fall through the cracks, and get caught in a downward spiral. It is very easy to criticize them, but when we understand the dynamics of all that takes place in their lives and community, we realize that it’s not that easy for them to just get a job or go to school.
“Our whole theme is to inspire churches and the Christian community because we have something God has given us that nobody else has, and that is the power of transformation.”
During their humble beginnings, Petrina started out by simply going into the squatters and playing badminton with the women. They then trusted her with her children, and today, some of these women have actually gone back to school as adults, and some are on staff with Dignity.
“We must never belittle or underestimate that power,” Ps. Elisha said. “It has different expressions, but they are powerful. You are partnering with something wonderful today!”
Petrina then gave a brief address. “We dream about a place where children can come and do well in academics but at the same time build up a vocational skill,” she said. “If we can somehow model this education differently, perhaps we can introduce a very different type of young people to the workforce—young people of character. We want them to be able to speak well, be articulate, to communicate well, and have a good attitude.”
The dedication service ended with prayers over Project B and Dignity led by Ps. Samuel Ang of PJ Evangelical Free Church, Ps. Daniel Ho of Damansara Utama Methodist Church, and Senator Datuk Paul Low. They each prayed God’s blessings over the overarching ministry of Dignity and thanked the Lord for the bountiful provision and faithfulness He has shown to Dignity.
“It’s very rewarding!” Tara Brown, a teacher at Dignity said. “There are obviously times when it’s very challenging and I sometimes feel discouraged, but when I see the students actually have a breakthrough, when I see them smile when they can do something that they couldn’t do before, it’s worth all that hard work!”
Yuki Nang, a former student and now teacher at Dignity, said that the secret to the confidence shown by their students stems from the trust and continuous mentoring from the teachers. “At first I struggled a lot, but I got a lot of support and different types of training and courses, and slowly, I started to enjoy it,” she said.
“If you want to get involved, if your churches want to get involved in any way, please, speak to the team.” Ps. Elisha encouraged. “If you want to come and visit or see how your young people can get involved, come! Because this is more than a school—it is a place of transformation. It is not just about academics, it is empowering; it is transforming. Those are words we often use, but I can say very proudly that at Dignity, it is expressed every day. All these wonderful people are a wonderful team that works very hard, so I want to say thank you, team!”
Project B is located on 25-G Jalan 11/48A Sentul Boulevard. Any surplus from the sales goes right back to helping Dignity fund their work with the urban poor. If you would like to learn more about Project B or the Dignity for Children Foundation, visit:
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