Saturday, July 2, 2022

Future turns bright for young stateless girl Suki

She is making good progress at the kindergarten where she is enrolled, while her father will begin physiotherapy sessions soon to help him recover from his stroke.

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Things are looking up for Suki Wong Pei Yee, the stateless 10-year-old whose story mobilised help from near and far, including the funds needed to attend classes and learn how to read at a kindergarten near her home.

A former teacher who asked to be known as Lim said she found Suki and her father through a friend who lives in Damansara. Together with her husband, she went to visit them on May 30.

“After learning that Suki had no education, I googled the closest kindergarten to their home and contacted the principal there,” she said.

“It turns out that he was trying to find Suki, too. He agreed to take Suki in at the kindergarten while I took care of the fees.”

The payments cover the cost of the lessons as well as breakfast and lunch for Suki, who is driven to and from kindergarten each day by the principal himself.

Suki sits for a lesson with Edinson Tang, the kindergarten principal.

Lim’s goal is for Suki to remain at the kindergarten for six months until she can read and write at the Standard One level. After that, she hopes to enrol her in an international school.

“At an international school, Suki can enter Standard One even though she is over seven years of age,” she said.

“At a government school, she would have to start at Standard Four as she is now 10 years old.”

If Suki begins school at a level commensurate with her age, Lim fears that she will not be able to keep up with her lessons and will instead lose confidence in her ability to continue learning.

Edinson Tang, the kindergarten principal, said Suki was a bright child who understood quickly.

Suki’s teacher says she is making good progress and should be able to reach the Standard One level within months.

For now, she is being taught how to answer basic questions in English since she is already fluent in Malay and Mandarin, as well as how to read and write.

“We prepared a special schedule for her so that she can follow her lessons at the level of five- to six-year-olds, and socialise with children her own age,” Tang said.

Judging by her progress over the past week, he believes Suki will reach the Standard One level well within six months.

“She learns quickly,” he said. “I don’t think it will be hard to guide Suki to that level within six months.”

Aside from enrolling Suki in school, Lim has also arranged physiotherapy sessions for her father, Wong Kon Foo, at Hospital Selayang in Selangor, in order to facilitate his recovery from the stroke he experienced seven years ago.

“Physio sessions will begin next week,” she said. “Once he has recovered, I have promised with his consent to employ him as my personal driver.”

After years of solitude, Suki is happy to have friends her age once more.

Even the small flat in which Suki and Wong live is now bright and cheerful, with a fresh coat of paint and some new furniture.

A part-time maid comes every month to clean the apartment, so that father and daughter can live in comfort.

“I happened to have some furniture that I was no longer using and which was still in good condition,” Lim said.

“It made sense to give it to Suki and her father.”

Meanwhile, efforts to obtain citizenship for Suki continue, with plans for medical and education insurance once the girl is officially declared a Malaysian.

“Everything is ready, we are just waiting for her to be given citizenship,” Lim said.

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