“The Covid-19 Pandemic brought drastic changes not only in the adult world but also in a child’s world. Confined to their homes, the normal support systems that children have other than their immediate family like friends, peers, play, sports, teachers, and school were all taken away so quickly.
“While adults have friends, colleagues, or services they could call or go online to get support from, children have limited options. Who can they go to, share, and get help for their own worries and troubles? In more serious situations where they are trapped at home in an abusive environment, how can they get support for themselves?
Initiated during the Movement Control Order (MCO) in March 2020 amid rising concerns about the impact of the lockdown measure on children, HumanKind set up Buddy Bear the only dedicated helpline for children in Peninsular Malaysia. Buddy Bear helpline is aimed at providing a safe space for children (6 to 18-year-olds) to talk about their worries and concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the extension of the MCO, HumanKind continues with the initiative and has since expanded to providing text messaging so children and teens have the option to message if they can't call. In April 2021 we enable online children counseling services so that no child is left out of care and support.
"Children are suffering, the National Health and Morbidity survey tells us that 1 in every 3 children is in some form of distress. Our mental health initiatives are born out of a need to give children a safe space to share and talk about their worries and concerns to an adult trained to listen to worries of children in a way they can feel supported and empowered,” said Pam Guneratnam, the founder of HumanKind.
In order that no child is left out, especially children of marginalized communities where the needs are the greatest, we need to ensure our services are accessible to every child who seeks out help.
“Our mental health initiatives are a trusted space that children can go to when they need a safe person to express to. We want children to feel empowered, to have a sense of their own agency. We hope that knowing they can call Buddy Bear will enable them to feel like they are not alone with their problem.
Sometimes knowing someone is there for you is enough to get you through a tough time. And that is our aim, to let children know we are here for them, we listen to kids, and that it is important to reach out for help,” said Guneratnam.
The Buddy Bear helpline operates from 6 pm to 12 midnight, 7 days a week, with volunteers who can speak Bahasa Malaysia, English, Mandarin, and Tamil.
All Humankind volunteers have been trained in Psychological First Aid, listening skills and child protection. They are supervised by registered mental health professionals. Every volunteer has been screened and background checked. They are committed to provide a responsible, ethical service in the best interest of the child.
To speak to Buddy Bear, children can call 1-800-18BEAR.
Funds raised from this campaign will go towards HumanKind's expenses in maintaining and providing accessible mental health services to all children regardless of who they are, where they come from, and whether their parents can afford care or not. Children are our future and every child deserves to realize their potential.
This fundraising campaign will allow children who cannot afford to pay to get access to mental health care. By donating to this campaign, you are providing access to crucial mental health support for vulnerable children during this pandemic.
Raised of MYR 50,000.00 target.
Humankind is a registered social enterprise based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We are on a mission to improve the social and emotional well-being of all communities especially communities that are underserved and vulnerable.
Pam Guneratnam, a psychologist by training, and a registered Counselor with the Malaysian Counselling Board, founded HumanKind with the vision of a world where everyone recognizes themselves as valuable, needed and connected, and having the ability to make a positive difference.
The first project HumanKind embarked on was a full day Expressive Art workshop at a shelter for trafficked girls. A team of 8 individuals together with a trainer conducted an Art Retreat for the young women at the protection facility. Since that project, the Organization has conducted more than 20 projects with various at-risk community groups, training more than 100 volunteers and delivering at multiple projects in Malaysia each year.
In early 2020, HumanKind was invited to train a group of volunteers in Jaipur, India - its first overseas initiative and the very first Expressive Sandwork Project to be conducted in India.