Monday March 4, 2013
Lend a hand
TO help convey their message and reach out to Muslim women, Sisters in Islam (SIS) holds over 20 events annually. These include public forums, workshops, training, and study tours, on top of a list of unscheduled events.
SIS also uses theatre performances, painting, singing and dance as a creative medium.
“We have a rich cultural heritage to draw from, so there are many ways of engaging women,” says Suriani Kempe, programme manager for SIS.
“With so much going on, volunteers are always needed,” says Kempe, who is one of 13 full-time staff at SIS. “We live in a multi-racial country and there are so many things that can divide us. At the same time, many things can bring us together. Volunteerism brings people together.”
The volunteers at SIS comprise of lawyers and students.
“We have five lawyers (syariah practitioners) who do a lot of pro-bono work for us,” says Kempe.
In their line of work, Kempe says they get to know a lot of lawyers and they get chambering students from the Bar Council, who intern at SIS as part of their practical training.
“These chambering students are introduced to the various NGOs, learn about women’s rights, and get some training on syariah law,” says Kempe.
SIS receives about 24 students per year from the KL or Selangor Bar. The students assist in media monitoring, media analysis or identify issues in the media.
“We get academic students who are doing research work and they want to volunteer with us for a while. These students will work on a particular section of a campaign, for example, research on some literature reviews or even a media strategy,” says Kempe.
With a communications research and publication arm at SIS, these students study how a faith-based organisation works with non-faith based organisations such as Women’s Aid Organisation.
“If you haven’t a clue about syariah law but can do design work, we can use that talent, too. Graphic design allows a volunteer to work from home, so they can freelance with us,” says Kempe.
Under the public education arm, volunteers can get involved in planning and executing fun events to raise awareness, such as a walk by young women during the International Women’s Day 2011 celebrations. The participants gathered at Taman Jaya in Petaling Jaya, and carried placards and spoke about strong Muslim women figures in history.
SIS also held a fund-raising event in conjunction with Malaysia Day last year.
SIS works with other organisations such as the Instant Café Theatre to hold a joint fund-raiser to raise funds for activism and the arts.
There are youth workshops, talks on leadership for Muslim women, and a whole range of events that volunteers can be involved in. Volunteers are also needed for the registration of guests, to serve as ushers, and to help prepare press kits, among others.
Currently, Kempe and her team are working on a video to get women to go out and vote in the coming general election.
“We are reaching out through friends and getting people – anyone who can write, paint or do graphics – to help us,” she says.
SIS welcomes any corporation that may want to support them in their work.
“By getting their staff involved, it helps increase their understanding of contemporary social issues in our country. At the same time, they have access to our services,” Kempe adds. -->