Putting the Lives of Refugee Women Back on Track

Tanma Federation was formed in 2010 by 3 ethnic Burmese women refugee groups in Malaysia, Mang Tha, Kaopro and Chin Women Organization.

“Tanma” means strong in Burmese. Tanma runs livelihood programmes for refugee women based on Fair Trade and cooperative principles. Through Tanma, several social projects including livelihood trainings, addressing gender-based violence, language classes for refugee women and education programmes for refugee children are run. At the core of Tanma is self- empowerment of refugee women.


  • To be a world-wide fair trade cooperative run by and for refugee women, committed to giving a chance to the most vulnerable women to be economically independent and to participate in decision making
  • To empower women to build peace and harmony and to bring change in our environment


  • To build solidarity among women
  • To protect women artisans’ rights as workers and as women
  • To run a fair trade cooperative
  • To help other women’s groups join the federation

Recognizing the critical need for livelihood opportunities, Tanma works with Burmese refugee women to develop a sustainable income-generating programme, which includes:

  • Consistent training on livelihood skills
  • Continuous English language lessons
  • Business & marketing skills development
  • Financial literacy training
  • Livelihoods project management

Tanma members also support each other in networking and marketing – which is imperative for the survival of livelihood programmes. Through Tanma, refugee women are learning their rights, owning it and asserting their rights to ensure that they are protected. Tanma understands that women’s human rights cannot advance without education and understanding of one’s rights and the creation of spaces to claim ones rights.

Rita Home

Rita Home, situated in Taman Ria, Pekan Kapar, is among the first orphanages in Malaysia. It opened its doors in 1997 and has come a long way since then. The Home cares for children and adults with or without disabilities. It also accepts babies and toddlers and currently it houses 67 children, 8 single mothers, 35 senior citizens, 17 physically and mentally challenged residents with 20 staff to oversee day-to-day operations.

New Life Community Center (NLCC)

Although it’s considerable wealth and well-developed in Kuala Lumpur, sad to say that there is still a lot of shortages and hence the NEW LIFE COMMUNITY CENTER (NLCC) has established. This “Community Centre” will provide services for people from diverse races and religion background.

The Community Centre will look into the needs of the community in five areas, which are vital to the daily lives and help will be rendered to those in need.  The areas are:

EDUCATIONAL: Assistances will be given to those who are not capable to pay their tuition fees, not doing well in their studies or not affordable for books and equipment.  Besides, motivational talks, educational consultation and other mentoring sessions will be given to those who are in need.

Bangsa Ria Day-Care Centre


Bangsa Ria is a day-care centre for the special-needs community, that welcomes all, regardless of race, creed or age. It is run by Persatuan Orang Kurang Upaya Bangsa Ria KL & Sel (Per OKU Bangsa Ria). The centre is open on weekdays from 8.30 a.m. and closes when the last child leaves by 5.30 p.m. The children are aged from 6 years to 46 years.

Most of the 10 children at Bangsa Ria will not be able to fit into any of the many centres that do not specialise in special needs. For instance, only one speaks with some degree of proficiency. Two others can be understood (they are improving every day!). The rest are unable to speak, get dressed, use the toilet, and eat without help and so on. They are almost entirely dependent on others to take care of their needs. Even the three mentioned above who can communicate need to be closely supervised.

Sponsors Needed for Rumah Ozanam

Rumah Ozanam was founded in 1987 when the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SSVP); an international lay organization, embarked on a mission to break the poverty cycle in the Malaysian community. There are two homes; one for boys and the other for girls. Both homes are situated in Petaling Jaya and are only a stone’s throw away from each other. The capacities for both homes are 20 each. Both of these homes have study areas, offices and live-in accommodations for the House Mother and her assistant.

Rumah Ozanam focuses on two areas; Academic Enhancement and Personal Development. Their efforts include; proving in-house tuition, building self-esteem and unlocking the resident’s true potential.

Current Needs

Rumah Ozanam is an independent organization that relies on goodwill and donations to sustain. But difficulties never made their spirits falter. They need sponsorships for their residents who are in college and universities as well as necessities for the home’s day-to-day operations. Two of their residents are in a foster care home catering for special needs. Sponsorship for monthly fees is needed for the two.

Chellaperumal A/L Maruthai – Stroke

Name:             Chellaperumal A/L Maruthai

Gender:           Male

Birthdate:       18/07/1963    

Situation:       Chellaperumal has a family of five and suffered a mild stroke. He stays in a dilapidated temple at Kapar, and has to use rags as a shelter during raining days.  The family does not have a proper toilet and kitchen, and relies on Good Samaritan for food donation. Great Heart managed to raise some fund to assist him and his children’s education expenses.

Ramesh A/L Doraisamy – Car Accident Injury

Name  :           Ramesh A/L Doraisamy         

Gender:           Male

Birthdate:       13/02/1973    

Situation: Ramesh was injured in a car accident in 2007 and had gone through corrective surgery on his legs twice.  However, his condition is not completely healed. His wife and five children are relying solely on him for a living, as he collects and sells recyclable items and scrap metal for a living.

Phuah Joo Eng – Diabetes & Stroke

Name:              PwanKow@Phuah Joo Eng

Gender:           Male

Birthdate:        08/10/1936

Situation: Phuah had diabetes and his left foot, large intestine and gallbladder were removed in 2009. He has three children but stays alone with his wife. He had a stroke ten years ago and can only move around with the help of a wheelchair.

Chong Kim Hua – Back Tumour

Name:             Chong Kim Hua

Gender:           Male

Birthdate:        08/02/1952

Situation: A taxi driver by profession, Chong was diagnosed with a back tumour. After surgery, he is not able to work for some time and thus, ran into a financial crisis. His granddaughter, Cognie is diagnosed with congenital heart disease and autism. He hopes that Cognie’s conditions could be improved. Great Heart brought Cognie to a Homeo Psychologist for assessment, treatment, as well as to a private school established for special need children.