Anderson Selvasegaram

Anderson Selvasegaram

Co-founder

Anderson Selvasegaram is the Executive Director of SUKA Society. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from University Putra Malaysia. In 2016, he was appointed as the International Detention Coalition (IDC) Regional Advisor for South East Asia. He is also a steering committee member of the End Child in Detention Network Malaysia and serves as a member of the National Project Advisory Committee (PAC) for the EU-UNICEF Children on the Move Initiative.

Before founding SUKA Society, Anderson worked on a project that provided educational programmes for juvenile offenders in prison. It was then when he felt strongly about how the lack of opportunities and resources affects marginalised communities.

He remembers a conversation with a young offender who shared about how his friends would make him break into houses by squeezing him through small openings in the house because of his tiny body size. When asked how he got caught, he said that when the authorities arrived, his friends had fled and left him in the house after squeezing him through the window. When the boy was asked about his plan after leaving prison, he said that he was going to return to the same friends again. He believed he had no other choice because that was the only life he knew.

That conversation has remained with Anderson. ‘Why did this young person believe that he had no other options but to return to the same friends who had left him behind and got him arrested?’ Fueled by the desire to serve diverse marginalised communities, he teamed up with Sarah Teo to start AKAR UMBI Society as a sister organisation to SUKA Society. Akar Umbi was going to focus on eliminating marginalisation and creating equal opportunities.

Sarah Teo Yan-Li

Sarah Teo Yan-Li

Co-founder

Sarah is currently working in a non-governmental organisation (NGO), SUKA Society, that looks into protecting and preserving the best interests of marginalised and vulnerable children. She has a bachelor’s degree in International Business.

As a person who feels strongly for causes that support and empower marginalised communities, she left the corporate sector in 2014 to join the NGO full time. Throughout her time at SUKA Society, she has worked to ensure that the organisation remains accountable and sustainable in its activities and operations. Her passion in the grassroots communities has led her to journey closely and grow the Empowered2Teach project, which is a project that trains indigenous teachers to teach preschool children in their remote villages. The project resonates with her because it empowers communities towards greater access to education for young children.

Throughout her experience in civic engagement, she has met many people from all walks of life who were marginalised and not given equal opportunities in their respective countries. She also saw another side of leaders and local grassroots communities who were capable and empowered to make changes in their lives and their community, despite the marginalisation they were facing. This led to starting Akar Umbi Society together with Anderson. She hopes to empower and build stronger and more resilient communities, who can uplift themselves from marginalisation and bring about equal opportunities in our country through training, resources and impact projects.

Wong Chen Li

Wong Chen Li

Impact Driver

Chen hails from a small town in Melaka. She studied Multimedia Design at The One Academy, Kuala Lumpur. When Chen walked to college daily, Chen would come across mothers with their half-sleeping children asking for help along the pedestrian bridge. Most of the time, she would give them some money from her weekly allowances until she realised that she was left with as little as RM10 to last her and her brother the entire week. She eventually decided to avoid using that route and started to ask herself if there was a better way to help people like them.

After graduating, Chen found a job at a digital agency. Five years into the work, she discovered a passion for the marginalised communities. Chen started working with SUKA Society as a project coordinator and ran programmes with refugee and Orang Asli young people, empowering them in building resilience. In the seven years of working with SUKA, she was also active in creating programmes that focused on peacebuilding between refugees and Malaysian youths.

Chen believes that the willingness to listen and create a conducive thinking environment, in partnership with the grassroots communities are the keys to resolving community issues. The grassroots themselves are an asset. She believes that communities can thrive if time, opportunities and resources are invested into building people up.

Kevin rohan Thomas

Kevin rohan Thomas

Storyteller

Kevin has a background in graphic design. He graduated with a diploma in advertising design and worked as an art director for a local youth magazine for a non-profit organisation in 1999. In 2006, Kevin started a design communication business that served corporates, government agencies, and a variety of other non-governmental organisations. In 2017 he worked with SUKA Society as a case manager and journeyed with unaccompanied refugee children in Malaysia.

Throughout his time in SUKA, he became acquainted with the challenges faced by marginalised communities like the refugees. Many lacked the opportunities for education, employment, food, healthcare and housing. This predicament struck a personal chord with him.

When Kevin was 19, he lost his family home. Due to a deal that turned bad between his father and a close associate, Kevin and his family had to vacate their home within two weeks. The following year, his father passed away and being the eldest child, Kevin had to step up to take care of his mother and two siblings. The fear of not having a home had impacted him. And the realisation that many still struggle in the same way today compels him to work with marginalised communities.

It was the support and encouragement of caring individuals who helped Kevin and his family weather through their trying moments. Kevin hopes that the work in Akar Umbi can offer the same kind of hope, encouragement and empowerment, for marginalised grassroots communities.

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Anderson Selvasegaram

Anderson Selvasegaram

Co-founder

Anderson Selvasegaram is the Executive Director of SUKA Society. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from University Putra Malaysia. In 2016, he was appointed as the International Detention Coalition (IDC) Regional Advisor for South East Asia. He is also a steering committee member of the End Child in Detention Network Malaysia and serves as a member of the National Project Advisory Committee (PAC) for the EU-UNICEF Children on the Move Initiative.

Before founding SUKA Society, Anderson worked on a project that provided educational programmes for juvenile offenders in prison. It was then when he felt strongly about how the lack of opportunities and resources affects marginalised communities.

He remembers a conversation with a young offender who shared about how his friends would make him break into houses by squeezing him through small openings in the house because of his tiny body size. When asked how he got caught, he said that when the authorities arrived, his friends had fled and left him in the house after squeezing him through the window. When the boy was asked about his plan after leaving prison, he said that he was going to return to the same friends again. He believed he had no other choice because that was the only life he knew.

That conversation has remained with Anderson. ‘Why did this young person believe that he had no other options but to return to the same friends who had left him behind and got him arrested?’ Fueled by the desire to serve diverse marginalised communities, he teamed up with Sarah Teo to start AKAR UMBI Society as a sister organisation to SUKA Society. Akar Umbi was going to focus on eliminating marginalisation and creating equal opportunities.

Sarah Teo Yan-Li

Sarah Teo Yan-Li

Co-founder

Sarah is currently working in a non-governmental organisation (NGO), SUKA Society, that looks into protecting and preserving the best interests of marginalised and vulnerable children. She has a bachelor’s degree in International Business.

As a person who feels strongly for causes that support and empower marginalised communities, she left the corporate sector in 2014 to join the NGO full time. Throughout her time at SUKA Society, she has worked to ensure that the organisation remains accountable and sustainable in its activities and operations. Her passion in the grassroots communities has led her to journey closely and grow the Empowered2Teach project, which is a project that trains indigenous teachers to teach preschool children in their remote villages. The project resonates with her because it empowers communities towards greater access to education for young children.

Throughout her experience in civic engagement, she has met many people from all walks of life who were marginalised and not given equal opportunities in their respective countries. She also saw another side of leaders and local grassroots communities who were capable and empowered to make changes in their lives and their community, despite the marginalisation they were facing. This led to starting Akar Umbi Society together with Anderson. She hopes to empower and build stronger and more resilient communities, who can uplift themselves from marginalisation and bring about equal opportunities in our country through training, resources and impact projects.

Wong Chen Li

Wong Chen Li

Impact Driver

Chen hails from a small town in Melaka. She studied Multimedia Design at The One Academy, Kuala Lumpur. When Chen walked to college daily, Chen would come across mothers with their half-sleeping children asking for help along the pedestrian bridge. Most of the time, she would give them some money from her weekly allowances until she realised that she was left with as little as RM10 to last her and her brother the entire week. She eventually decided to avoid using that route and started to ask herself if there was a better way to help people like them.

After graduating, Chen found a job at a digital agency. Five years into the work, she discovered a passion for the marginalised communities. Chen started working with SUKA Society as a project coordinator and ran programmes with refugee and Orang Asli young people, empowering them in building resilience. In the seven years of working with SUKA, she was also active in creating programmes that focused on peacebuilding between refugees and Malaysian youths.

Chen believes that the willingness to listen and create a conducive thinking environment, in partnership with the grassroots communities are the keys to resolving community issues. The grassroots themselves are an asset. She believes that communities can thrive if time, opportunities and resources are invested into building people up.

Kevin rohan Thomas

Kevin rohan Thomas

Storyteller

Kevin has a background in graphic design. He graduated with a diploma in advertising design and worked as an art director for a local youth magazine for a non-profit organisation in 1999. In 2006, Kevin started a design communication business that served corporates, government agencies, and a variety of other non-governmental organisations. In 2017 he worked with SUKA Society as a case manager and journeyed with unaccompanied refugee children in Malaysia.

Throughout his time in SUKA, he became acquainted with the challenges faced by marginalised communities like the refugees. Many lacked the opportunities for education, employment, food, healthcare and housing. This predicament struck a personal chord with him.

When Kevin was 19, he lost his family home. Due to a deal that turned bad between his father and a close associate, Kevin and his family had to vacate their home within two weeks. The following year, his father passed away and being the eldest child, Kevin had to step up to take care of his mother and two siblings. The fear of not having a home had impacted him. And the realisation that many still struggle in the same way today compels him to work with marginalised communities.

It was the support and encouragement of caring individuals who helped Kevin and his family weather through their trying moments. Kevin hopes that the work in Akar Umbi can offer the same kind of hope, encouragement and empowerment, for marginalised grassroots communities.

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Join our mailing list to receive the latest news
and updates from our team.