The child welfare advocate

Radio announcer Freda Liu is championing the rights of children in rural communities

06 Jan 2021 / 11:07 H.

FREDA LIU is a multifaceted personality who has tried her hand at everything from writing, to emceeing and being a radio announcer.

Aside from her many talents, Liu has also done an impressive amount of work with World Vision Malaysia (WVM).

Based in Malaysia, and operating regionally and globally, WVM is a humanitarian organisation geared towards children, and Liu’s history with the organisation first began about 20 years ago, when she began sponsoring her first child through WVM.

“I thought to myself that each time I had an increment, I would sponsor another child,” Liu explained.

“At one point, there were five children. The aim is to sponsor a child, but there is a lot of work going on in the background that supports entire communities. The whole concept is of not just giving them a fish, but teaching them to fish.”

Ultimately, WVM helps villages to become sustainable in earning a living. Through the process, children are helped, which in turn trickles down to them helping their families. However, this would be simplifying what attracted Liu to WVM’s cause.

“The first reason I wanted to partake in this was education. We’re all so privileged to have an education. You know, the basics – like being able to read and write – are human rights, where kids should be given a level playing field. What they do then is up to them. But if they aren’t given an education, how else would they succeed at life,” she said.

As an advocate for WVM, Liu has been involved in the organisation’s focus in tackling of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) issues since the beginning of this year.

“WVM is based locally, but has projects in various countries. When I looked at it, Malaysians generally are a lot more privileged, but on the issues of WASH, we still have problems with clean water. When they got me involved as part of WASH, it was an eye opener for me as well,” Liu claimed.

“It’s not just about education. If you don’t have basic amenities, like clean water, how can you even [focus on] an education while being worried about these things. Some people have to walk kilometres away just to get water, while we just turn on the tap.”

Liu then explained that for communities such as those in Sabah, in order to have access to water, they would have to travel and get out of their settlements.

“Even with access to that, there is the issue of sanitation. How do you know it’s truly clean water?” she asked.

“Then there is the [task of collecting] water, where in other countries, girls can get attacked [while doing so].

Additionally, time spent collecting water affects their time in school. There is a ripple effect for something as basic as water, that if they can’t get water, they can’t go to school, they are not healthy, and they can’t live well.”

Liu admits that when she first started at WVM, her focus was on children receiving education. The other surrounding issues then reared up, needing to be addressed before education could be tackled.

“Everyone is an advocate, right. There are a lot things that I do, in terms of social media,” Liu said of her role as a WVM advocate.

“It’s not just me. Everyone can play their part and talk about it. It’s about changing one life at a time. Look at my story with the child I sponsored, who just turned 18 years old, and is going on to become a fashion designer.

“I do use my platform and opportunity to talk about this. When we talk about sustainable development goals and communities, the repercussion of not having clean water and a good environment in a community also touches on gender inequality.”

Speaking about WVM’s annual Gifts of Hope, Liu encourages people to look into the different kinds of Christmas ‘presents’ available on WVM’s website that can be bought through donations, such as sanitation and hygiene workshops, hand washing stations and toilets, among others.

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