Datin Suliana Shamsuddin Alias, a philanthropist shares how to help those in need
Datin Suliana Shamsuddin Alias is a sweet, kind woman. She has no airs and is always genuinely interested in people and what is happening around her. Her giving ways extend beyond the needs of her family.
Soft-spoken and articulate, Suliana is a qualified chemist with a degree in physiology and biological chemistry from the University of Salford, Manchester. She was a chemist at Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) Paints Malaysia before moving into human resource and quality management. After 13 years with ICI Paints, she went into management consulting in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Her true joy comes from helping people. Suliana’s gentle, nurturing ways were cultivated from young through her parents, Dato Haji Alias Shamsuddin and Datin Hajjah Sofia, who founded Sri Inai, one of Malaysia’s earliest private schools.
She is fiercely involved in Yayasan Orang Kurang Upaya Kelantan (Kelantan Foundation for the Disabled) or YOKUK, founded in his hometown in 1998. Suliana has been running the foundation as chairperson and executive director since 2000.
Initially concerned about not being familiar enough with welfare work, she has always been interested in charity, while working in the corporate world.
Under her leadership, YOKUK built its first centre in Kota Baru. She has developed her own team to carry out the foundation’s work. Their concept is community-based rehabilitation, to allow people with disabilities to have an improved quality of life while involving the community.
She departs from trying to institutionalise people with disabilities in a home. She believes that it is better for them to be cared for by their own families and she provides the support.
Besides healthcare, YOKUK aids the disabled by providing vocational training for school leavers at age 18, where they learn practical skills like washing cars, laundry and gardening to enable them to find basic jobs. For all Suliana’s work over the past 15 years, there is still much that needs to be accomplished.
Datin Suliana Shamsuddin and her team work the ground to offer much needed aid to the victims of the devastation caused by the recent floods in Kelantan.
Datin Suliana Shamsudding and her clients.
She also ensures that she have continuous support from corporations, so she have to write to them to keep them aware of the work that they do.
Nevertheless, YOKUK has been successful in keeping to its cause.
Suliana has to initiate many fundraising activities.
Suliana remains very much hands on and travels back to Kelantan twice a month at least.
The people of the state are very much at the heart of the work Suliana does, and sometimes this extends beyond YOKUK. In fact, just after our interview, Suliana and her team are in Kelantan to offer much needed aid to the victims of the devastating floods.
There’s just so much to be done, and what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean compared to the assistance offered by other NGOs and the government. But we will try our best to do our bit and together, we will be able to overcome this trying time.
The people around her is always her motivation for her work.
Suliana always admire people who can nurture something of significance from nothing, and she always imagines that she would be able to do that.