It’s a bright Saturday morning. In one particular shop lot in Ampang, a youth centre comes alive with children’s laughter and excitement. The sound of table soccer, clattering of board games, and cheerful chatter fill the air. Welcome to the NewRoots Youth Club.
The youth club has its roots in a series of workshops on self-awareness and motivation that ECB conducted with a small group of 5-7 Afghan youth in Ampang in December 2021. Subsequently, ECB continued to engage the same group of youth with a “Better Life” programme, teaching them the importance of community development and ownership.
Upon obtaining a physical space in October 2022, ECB began to conceptualise it as a space for refugee youth to gather and grow in sync. Together with the first batch of youth, it was agreed that this space would have a specific focus on imparting the values of social responsibility, growth mindset, and sustainability. With the help of other partners and community members who came alongside, the NewRoots Youth Club was officially launched on 11 March 2023. Its name carries the hope that as the children and youth sink their roots into Malaysian soil, they would grow new roots that would eventually become trees that bear good fruits.
Fast forward a few months later, there are now 50 Afghan children and youth who come to the centre regularly. Each Saturday, there are different activities to look forward to, such as picnic and sports, indoor board games, art and craft sessions, movies etc. These activities are platforms for personal growth and empowerment for the youth. When they play sports and board games, they learn sportsmanship, teamwork, and patience. When they make crafts on special occasions like Mother’s Day, they learn to treasure and show love to those around them. A common thread throughout every session is that they are taking ownership of their community, to build an inclusive community where everyone feels a sense of belonging.
We thank God that the youth club is very popular among the Afghan kids, with ages ranging from 7 years to 15 years old. Looking towards the future, we hope to engage the different age groups meaningfully, as well as to increase engagement with their parents. We also pray that the centre continues to serve as a safe place for the children and youth to play, learn and grow. May it be an anchor for them amidst the uncertainties of life.
Q: “What do you like about this youth club?”
A: “We don’t have games like these at home. And we get to see our friends that live far away.” – B, 11 years old
“Every part is fun, we are playing and learning at the same time.” – S, 10 years old
“All of us are a family. Most of the people are from my school and those who are not, are also my friends.” – F, 10 years old
“This place is really special for me.” – M, 8