2020 has been a year that affected the whole world in a most adverse manner. The Covid-19 virus pandemic has caused a global economic earthquake sending panic and lockdowns throughout the world. Never has this generation seen a greater catastrophe nor experienced a bigger knock than this pandemic. To many, 2020 was a year of set-backs and misery but to us at the ElShaddai Centre, it was a year of great openings and opportunities.
Our learning centres started the year 2020 with great expectations of increased numbers of new student intake and we did. All our centres were filled up to capacity with many on the waiting lists. At the secondary level, we were excited at the prospect of signing up some students for the IGCSE exam in the middle of the year.
During the lockdowns. our teachers continued teaching their students through online literacy programmes especially those who signed up for the IGCSE. In Oct/Nov, 8 of our students were privileged to be able to sit for their IGCSE exam despite the CMCO. We were confident that they would obtain good results (and thank God they did it!)
We set sights on expanding our ministry to the east coast and East Malaysia during the year. Due to space constraints at our secondary level, we looked for bigger premises that will accommodate the increase in students.
When the first lockdown was announced in mid March, it appeared that all our plans were crumpled. However, we did not give in to despair and allow the lockdown to stifle us. Instead, we rose to the occasion to meet the needs of many families that were affected as a result of the pandemic situation. An ERF (emergency relief fund) was quickly set up and to our pleasant surprise, many Malaysians from all walks of life responded splendidly, from school boys and girls contributing their pocket money to adults offering their savings. We raised enough funds to feed some 5,000 needy families in many parts of Malaysia. There was also enough fund to provide huge subsidies for school fees and transport when school reopened for the few months.
The pandemic led us to communities of refugees who were otherwise hidden from us. We responded to their SOS for help and build a bonding with them. Because of this bonding, we have started a learning centre in Kuantan, Malacca, Batu Pahat and Sg. Buloh in addition to a planned learning centre in Taman Sentosa, Klang.
By God’s grace, we found a new site for our Excel Learning Centre (for secondary level) in the third floor of 3 shop lots linked together uniquely by a common veranda. After renovation, this new centre was opened in October 2020 to replace the old centre which will be used for our ALC & newly set-up Skill Development Training centre.
In July, our bakery took on a new direction when we partnered with an established bakery to produce special bread for people with diabetes. Our aquaponic fish farm project was given a new lease of life when a big player sponsored 2 big fish tanks and 1,000 Patin fries. Now the fish are almost ready to hit the market. Meanwhile, our sewing centre at Ampang was working hard to provide PPEs to the health workers and thousands of face masks at special prices to the needy communities. A few community tailors were blessed when we paid them to sew some 3,000 face masks for our teachers and students.
Our team also took time to set up a cabin library which was supposed to be officially opened on 27 January 2021 (but the opening has been postponed due to MCO 2.0 lockdown). Our Life2Life team also started a grape planting pilot project at our ERLC compound. With our support, the ElShaddai Sabah team started 3 new learning centres in Sabah with about 150 students. They are now planning for the fourth centre. The Sabah team also distributed food provisions to about 1,000 families in Sabah during the pandemic.
While most businesses were at a standstill and most people inactive at home during the MCO, our teams were busy saving lives and assisting communities, paving a better future for the needy and the neglected.
In short, the year 2020 may have been a most challenging year for the world but to us at the ElShaddai Centre, it has been a very eventful year of sharing and caring.
– Contributed by Peter Gan