Rusaslina Idrus (far right) and her team of volunteers.
“Mari Kita Membaca” and “Kedai Jalanan” are expressions of a new Malaysia – one that can be depressing because of the illiteracy and the poverty it signifies, but also one that boasts people like Rusaslina, who knows that a good deed is its own reward.
I first met Rusaslina Idrus (I call her Lin) in 2011. I was living in a kampong not far from the Second Link Bridge to Singapore and she was a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) in Singapore. She was also the founder of Mari Kita Membaca (Let’s Read), an organisation set up to bring books to children in rural and under-served communities in Malaysia. She told me then that working in Singapore was a bonus because there were many other Malaysians there, eager and willing to donate Singapore dollars to a cause.
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