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By the time she was 17, Mathura Kanan was CEO of a social enterprise she had started with her friends – Harsha Ravindran, Heerraa Ravindran and Sanadthkumar Ganesan. Their business: Empowering teens and youths to uncover their passions and go after their dreams.

The four changemakers had set up Ascendance, an empowerment group that encourages Malaysian youth from all backgrounds across the country to believe in their potential, through motivational talks and peer-to-peer sessions.

“When I was younger, I used to wonder how successful business people were able to chase their dreams, achieve success and happiness,” says Mathura, 23, who is pursuing a professional qualification from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

“How can youngsters like me become as successful? I realised that the only thing stopping me was me myself. Often, we are the reason why we cannot move forward,” she says

Since they founded their group in 2015, the four have been invited to speak at schools, public forums and events around Malaysia. Ascendance has also been appointed by the Education Ministry to conduct their “Ace It Easy” programme at nine secondary schools across the country.

“We’re honoured to receive this award,” says Herraa. “We never expected it in our wildest dreams. It means a lot to know that our work is impacting students and it has inspired us to continue working.”

She adds, “Our target group is those aged 10 to 17. We were once like them, but we were lucky to have been given opportunities. We made full use of them. We believe that if we could do it, other children can too.”

“That’s what we hope to share with students,” says Harsha, 17, Ascendance’s chief marketing officer, who completed her International General Certificate of Secondary Education recently and is on a short break before pursuing a tertiary education. “I suppose it works better when they hear this from someone closer to their age.”

Meanwhile, Harsha’s sister Heerraa and Sanadthkumar are enrolled in a leadership programme with ET Boost, a video production company in Shah Alam, Selangor.

The four girls had met a few years ago at a social business incubator platform, ET Ideas. When they learnt they had similar aspirations, they decided to band together.  They believe no one is too young to achieve their dream and want to encourage other youngsters to go for it.

They also hope to encourage students to be leaders in their communities and help others in turn. “We want them to learn about themselves and discover what they love, and be the best possible version of themselves,” says Sanadthkumar, 19, and COO of Ascendance.

“We look forward to helping these kids establish their careers and even assisting them with any personal challenges they may encounter. We’re here to help them work on their happiness, health, education, as well as their passion,” she adds.


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In The Picture Of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde wrote, “Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.”

This week, a reader got in touch to talk about their “conflicting feelings” towards their parents, asking whether it was “OK to feel angry and disappointed at some of the things they’ve done”.

Describing the emotional baggage that parents pass onto their children, the English poet Philip Larkin paints a picture of inherited trauma in his noted work, This Be The Verse.

For Larkin, parents were people who damaged their children, but he stresses that it’s not intentional on their part: our parents were, in turn, damaged by their own upbringing.

Dealing with this dilemma can provoke powerful emotions. For most of us, our parents gave us everything and they provided us with many of the blessings we now enjoy. In religious teachings, all the main traditions agree that to repay what our parents did (and continue to do) for us is virtually impossible.

On the other hand, there’s no denying that many of us have feelings that our parents let us down in ways that continue to affect us, and no doubt our parents will have felt similarly towards theirs.

In my own experience, I struggled for a long time suppressing uncomfortable feelings that I had towards my parents. To criticise or feel ill towards them to any degree just felt wrong. Everything I had was thanks to my parents, regardless of their flaws and faults.

But what I discovered in this struggle was a truth that applies to any discomfort we try to suppress: the longer we try to deny or ignore how we feel, the more those feelings fester, strengthen, and grow.

The psychoanalyst Carl Jung believed that, however hard we might try to suppress unpleasant emotions, they will always find a way to express themselves. This can be through our conduct and behaviour and, in severe cases, even manifest in physical symptoms such as skin rashes.

It’s important to recognise that it’s perfectly OK to feel any emotions that arise – to deny that we feel any other way than we do is simply going to compound the issue and potentially make it worse.

Of course, what we do with those feelings is also important. Acting out on strong emotions is rarely helpful, but what is useful is to process them in a healthy way that acknowledges, “OK, this is how I’m feeling, and this is the reason”.

When we’re able to process feelings in a constructive manner, for example, through doing a daily journal, talking to a trusted friend, or speaking to a counsellor or therapist, we also allow for a better understanding as well as seeing things beyond the strength of our emotions.

Let’s say we continue to suppress our anger and disappointment towards our parents (or anyone else). There’s a good chance that, as these feelings bubble beneath the surface, the focus will always be on the mistakes our parents made, how they let us down, and on our guilt for feeling this way. In short, we cling strongly to that sense of misery.

But when we deal with our emotions, we allow our feelings room to breathe and start to feel less constricted as the anger and disappointment starts to fade. Once we give ourselves that permission to express our thoughts and emotions, we can see the bigger picture that our parents are just as flawed and unsure as we are. No baby ever came with an instruction manual or a “first-year stress-free” guarantee.

Deep-seated inner conflict can take time to process and resolve, but we need to understand that none of us are machines. We should allow ourselves to feel – and be OK with feeling – uncomfortable emotions.

Our feelings exist for a reason. Of course, we should have understanding and compassion for others, and there is also room for us to be honest about how we are inside. Compassion for others needn’t be to the exclusion of compassion for ourselves, and nor should it.

We all have expectations of how we should act and be around others, and having standards helps to maintain the society we live in. However, when we allow strict standards to dictate how we think and feel, it often causes problems when we try to reconcile how we think we should feel with how we’re actually feeling.

This internal tug-o-war causes a lot of unnecessary suffering, which can begin to be resolved if we treat ourselves with the kindness, care, and understanding that we’ve been taught to offer others. If we can do that, then we might find that the emotional weight we’ve been carrying begins to lift.

When we stop struggling with our internal conflicts, this catharsis helps us to understand that our parents and loved ones were never perfect to begin with, and with that realization we are relieved of the expectation to be perfect.


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She was apparently told that she might never become her mother because of her rare physical condition. But she defied those odds and successfully gave birth to four children! 

The miraculous 34-year-old Australian mother of four goes by the name of Lauren Cotter, and at just 16 years old, she was diagnosed with uterus didelphys, a rare condition which affects only 3,000 women across the globe.

According to Daily Mail, the condition occurs when the uterus fails to fuse properly during development in the womb. As a result, Cotter was born with two uteruses, two cervixes and yes, two vaginas!

Since her wombs and cervixes were half the size of an average woman’s, Cotter was told that carrying and giving birth to children would be an issue.

But the Melbourne-born primary school teacher and her 33-year-old husband, Ben, knew they wanted kids.

“From quite early, on Ben and I discussed having children and it was clear that he really wanted to be a dad. I knew I had to be open and honest and tell him that might not be a possibility for me.”

While the odds weren’t in their favour, the couple still underwent several successful pregnancies and ending up becoming parents to five-year-old Amelie, three-year-old Harvey, and adorable 15-month-old twins, Maya and Evie!

She reportedly carried all the girls in her right womb, while her only son, Harvey, grew in her left.

Cotter says she actually didn’t have any difficulty falling pregnant, telling the publication,

“Actually, we have found it easy to fall pregnant – I am not sure why, or if it has anything to do with my two vaginas.”

Nonetheless, she was told that miscarriages and stillbirths were still likely to occur given the size of her wombs. As she braced herself for the worst, Cotter and Ben were shocked to find themselves pregnant after just a month of trying for a baby!

“We decided to give it a go, and just see what would happen. We knew it might be a bumpy road and tried not to get our hopes up too much.

Just a month after we started trying, I bought a stack of pregnancy tests and started taking them weekly.

I couldn’t be sure, so I took a test each morning that week, and each day the line got darker and darker until I was sure – we were pregnant.”

Her first pregnancy went smoothly and baby Amelie came into the world via C-section. The couple soon tried for baby number two 18 months later, and Harvey was born!

Being a young mother of two, Cotter said she decided to have a contraceptive implant, as advised by her consultant.

The implant was supposedly 99% effective but Cotter again proved that she was an exception to the norm. Just three weeks after the contraceptive was fitted, she was pregnant again with twins! When asked whether the recent pregnancy surprised her, she said:

“Shocked doesn’t begin to cover it. During 17 years together, Ben and I had only ever got pregnant when we’d planned it. Now, here we were, having surprise twins.”

Maya and Evie were born just after 37 weeks and while they initially seemed healthy, drama began to unfold as Evie faced difficulties breathing and was sent to the ICU.

Soon, an X-ray of her lungs revealed that she had congenital diaphragmatic hernia, which happens when a baby is born with their intestines inside the chest cavity. As a five-day-old baby, she had to go through a keyhole surgery and doctors warned Cotter that there was a limited chance of survival.

Nonetheless, Evie, like her mother, defied the odds and fully recovered! The 15-month-old twins are now the centre of the family’s “crazy, hectic and amazing” life.


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Newborns, especially those who are not breastfed and are particularly vulnerable to developing allergies, are often prescribed hypoallergenic milk formulas.

However, according to a French study published in the journal Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, the effectiveness of these formulas is yet to be proven.

The study by the French Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (National Institute of Agricultural Research) and the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (National Institute of Health and Medical Research), drew upon data from the nation-wide ELFE epidemiology study, the first in France to study children from birth to adulthood.

Hypoallergenic formula is commonly recommended on a prophylactic basis to newborns with at least one parent or sibling with a history of allergies.

These products are based on cow milk and hydrolysed into small parts to counter the potentially allergenic effects of dairy.

The researchers noted in a press release (in French) that very little data is available on the influence of these formulas on the prevention of allergies in practical conditions and paediatric associations in some countries have recently withdrawn their recommendations with regards to the formulas.

To determine in what measure the formulas are able to protect an infant, the teams of scientists studied 15,000 children from the ELFE study over the course of two years following their birth, to investigate possible links with the most common allergic afflictions such as eczema, wheezing, asthma and food allergies.

According to the researchers, these products did not demonstrate a greater efficacy in the reduction of allergies, in comparison to traditional formula.

In fact, the use of hypoallergenic formula in two-month-old children showing no signs of allergies at the time was associated, in the following years, with a higher risk of wheezing and food allergies.

The study’s authors underscore the need for further research.

These efforts should be supported by a new European regulation, to come into effect in 2021, which will require manufacturers to carry out clinical studies before being allowed to promote the allergy prevention effects of their products.


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I think what I am about to say is what every man who wants to be a househusband has to go through before making the bold decision to be one. I use the word “bold” as he is going against the norm of society and will most likely be thought of as a useless husband living off the wife.

I am writing of my own experience when I made the decision to be one, 20-odd years ago. I opted for early retirement as a pilot in the Royal Malaysian Air Force at the ripe old age of 40. I was lucky enough to marry a wife, a general practitioner, when I was 36. We had two young kids, aged three and one.

My wife’s income as a GP was comfortable enough for the family expenses as we lived a simple life and did not indulge in extravagances or tried to keep up with the Joneses. However it was not an easy decision to forgo my earnings as a pilot. Back in 1995, the salary of an aircraft captain was about RM20,000 a month; today, it is more than RM50,000 a month – not considering the perks and glamour that come with the job.

Another more important factor to consider is how our society perceives husbands who do not work. The first thing that comes to mind is a good-for-nothing, lazy person. Therefore a person who wishes to be a househusband has to be courageous enough to withstand all the verbal abuse hurled at him, most of the time behind his back. I am saying this from experience. I was a disgrace to my in-laws, certain relatives and friends. Of course, no one dared to say this to me face-to-face.

I sought the opinion of my best friend and he told me that as far as he was concerned, the man should be the breadwinner of the family. However, the most important input was from my wife who was concerned about the risky nature of a pilot’s job and the effect it would have on my health in the long term as my body had to constantly adapt to different time zones.

Another important factor was I would be away from home most of the time. But I think the real reason was she was worried that I would be swarmed by all the stewardesses.

I think the deciding factor for me to make the decision to be a homemaker – this is a more appropriate word for me, as the word “househusband” conjures up the image of me doing household chores, which I am adverse to, much to the chagrin of my wife – is the welfare of my children.

With both of us working, they would have to be put under the care of someone else and the thought of them growing up without us imparting our values and knowledge to them and missing out on their growing up years was not something I could accept, given the choice. I would not trade this for all the money in the world.

Many of my friends envied my non-working life and said that I could afford to do so as my wife was a doctor. I asked them whether they would have done the same thing if they were in my shoes, and the answer was no. I think the main reason is because the money was too attractive to forgo.

Do I regret the decision and sacrifice I made almost 25 years ago? I do admit there were times when I thought about what my life could have been if I had continued my career as an airline pilot. But regret, definitely not, as the time I got to spend with my family – especially my children, watching them grow to become responsible adults with the right values in life – was priceless.


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A private kindergarten teacher in eastern China, has been fired for forcing two children to go out into the burning sun as a punishment for playing in the dormitory during nap time.

A short video posted on social media showing the boy lying down in the playground while a girl stood next to him holding a quilt drew an immediate online backlash.

According to reports from Minnan news, a local news portal in Fujian province, the pair were ordered to go out into the playground for disturbing the other children’s naps on Wednesday, when the temperature reached a high of 33 degrees Celsius (91 degrees Fahrenheit).

Taking a noontime nap is a common practice across much of China to ensure children will have more energy during the afternoon.

The next day, the government of Zhangzhou announced that the teacher had been fired and the private Da Feng Che kindergarten ordered to close.

A number of incidents of teachers mistreating children have emerged in China in recent years. reported earlier this month that a kindergarten teacher had been jailed for 18 months for sticking needles in children and feeding them pills at a kindergarten in Beijing.

Last December, a primary schoolteacher from Huating in Gansu province was suspended and investigated for allegedly using a plastic water pipe to beat a third-year pupil who could not remember English words correctly, leaving the boy’s arms swollen and bruised, according to The Beijing News.


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Based on a report which was released via PDRM’s (Polis Diraja Malaysia) official portal of Missing Children, exactly 834 cases of missing children have been reported since 2014. FYI, the records of missing children and teenagers were first stored in 2014.

At the time of writing, the PDRM website has recorded 572 missing girls, while the remaining 262 missing cases involved boys. The number of children who are yet to be found, according to race, are listed below:

  • Malay – 421 children 
  • Indian – 137 children 
  • Chinese – 78 children 
  • Others – 628 children

The highest number of cases of missing children was recorded in Johor with 142 cases, followed by Selangor with 140 missing children cases. On the other hand, Kuala Lumpur recorded 115 cases of missing children and Sabah has 100 cases of missing children. Conversely, Perlis recorded the lowest number of missing children cases with only 3 lost kids reported. In addition to that, the three other states with the lowest records of missing children are as shown below:

  • Terengganu – 11 cases 
  • Pahang – 23 cases 
  • Kelantan – 28 cases

Siakap Keli, who first brought the matter to public attention following the release of the report, further urged the public to go to the police if they have information about the missing kids. Do take note, guys! 

The site wrote,

“To anyone with information (on the missing children), you can contact the nearest police station or the investigating officer of the Sexual, Women and Children Investigation Section (D11) at 03-2266 6313 or email”

On that note, those with information about the missing kids in the PDRM’s database, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your nearest police station. If you’d like to know more about the missing kids, you can do so by heading over to the PDRM’s Missing Children website here


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Child rights activist Sharmila Sekaran has warned parents to keep an eye on their children’s internet use following the arrival of Facebook’s newly minted dating service in Malaysia.

Sharmila, from Voices of the Children group, added that nothing online is entirely secure.

“Facebook Dating claims to be safe and secure but the reality is nothing online is 100% safe or secure.”

Speaking to FMT, she also highlights that despite the fact the service is only available to those above 18, children as young as eight already have Facebook profiles and know how to navigate them.

“Dating apps are usually for adults, but Facebook is used by children as young as 12, 13, or even younger.”

“Not many are aware of the dangers of online dating and its repercussions.”

“The government needs to hold Facebook accountable.”

Among the dangers that Sharmila highlighted in her interview are the risks of being cyberbullied, the risk of being approached by sexual predators, and the risk of not understanding what genuine relationships are.

“Children need to learn, through life experiences, what genuine relationships are like.”

“The key is to know what constitutes love and lust.”

“While it is common for teenagers to get into relationships today, is this how we want them to spend their time and thoughts?”

Sharmila states that parents should encourage more meaningful activities.

“They have a whole life ahead of them to find love and build relationships.”

Malaysia is one of 14 countries the Facebook dating feature is newly available in this month.

It allows users to create a dating account where they can be matched with others based on interests, likes, groups, events, and many more.

We sincerely hope that parents will exercise restraint especially when allowing children to go online on sites with age restrictions in place.


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A man in rural southeast China got drunk and injured his four children with a knife at their home then slashed himself, according to police and local media reports.

The man, surnamed Wang, from Xiachun village in Anxi county, Fujian province, was arrested on Wednesday, county police said. Wang was treated by doctors for a laceration that was not life-threatening, they said.

All four children were in a stable condition after the attack on Tuesday evening, the Straits Metropolis Daily said on Thursday.

Two boys, aged six and nine, were treated for neck injuries that were 13 and 15 centimetres long, a doctor from Mingxuan Hospital in Anxi was quoted as saying. The cuts did not sever arteries and the boys’ condition was stabilised after first aid.

The five arrived at the hospital on Wednesday morning. Wang’s two daughters, who had less serious injuries, were discharged, the doctor said.

One of the children told the doctor their father was a heavy drinker and physically abusive when drunk, the doctor said.

“Nobody knows what happened that night apart from those directly involved,” a relative was quoted as saying, since the extended family was at work in the fields when the incident took place.

The children’s mother was working in the city of Xiamen.

One of Wang’s neighbours told the Straits Metropolis Times that Wang was unemployed.


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Two primary school pupils have died and two were injured in a knife attack at a primary school in south central China.

The incident occurred at 7.16am on Wednesday at Wanquan Elementary School in the town of Baijiaping, Ningyuan county, Hunan province.

The injured pupils were taken to hospital and were being treated for non life-threatening injuries.

A 31-year-old male, surnamed Zheng, who came from Baijiaping, was arrested in connection with the incident. Police said investigations were ongoing.

Attacks on schoolchildren are a common problem in China. In a recent case, a 33-year-old man lashed out with a knife in Jiangsu province in February, wounding 11 people, including schoolchildren and auxiliary police officers. He was subdued by passers-by and police.

An incident in October gained international attention when a 39-year-old woman attacked pupils at a kindergarten in Chongqing, injuring 14 of them.

Authorities have been known to come down hard on these attackers. In September, a man was executed for killing nine students and wounding 11 at his former school where he had suffered bullying in childhood.


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