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Rescue, restore and reunite: After 40+ years, Shelter Home’s heart for children remains unchanged 

“Our mission begins with rescue: supporting abused, abandoned and neglected children,” says Chris Fan, general manager of Shelter Home for Children.

The former corporate executive has been at the helm of the Christian welfare organisation for four years, navigating Shelter through the pandemic’s turbulent years. 

However, as operational costs continue to rise and needs increase, Fan is appealing for greater support from the Malaysian Church.

“We would really love to see longer-term engagement and support from local Malaysian churches. At present, church support is quite minimal,” he revealed.

Shelter Home general manager Chris Fan.

Fan has already reduced staff at the three Shelter homes, which accommodate 40 children aged four to 18. 

These children are referred by courts, local communities, or their own family members.

“We are not an orphanage; our ultimate goal is to reunite every child with their parent or guardian at the most opportune time,” he said. 

For sustainable change, entire families must be supported

Shelter’s approach to transformation is dual-focused: supporting both the child and their support system (family).

Fan explained that their experience has shown that without support or guidance for families alongside their children’s development, lasting change is unlikely.

“Our hope is to support parents and guardians in creating a safe, loving environment for their children as well. Many times, their attitudes and approaches have to change as well,” he said. 

A holistic upbringing is the goal for the children at Shelter’s three homes.

He admits, however, that many donors are keen to contribute to a children’s home but less willing to support a family with children in need.

 “This is where education must come in. By supporting a family and transforming a home from the inside out, we’re ensuring a child grows up in a healthy and loving space,” he said. 

Over the years, Shelter has seen many children leave equipped with useful life skills, a spiritual foundation and the confidence to lift themselves out of their circumstances. 

Giving children hope for a brighter future

Diana* is formerly from Shelter, and has just completed her Foundation in Arts and will soon commence a degree in creative multimedia. 

“Growing up in Shelter, I learned new things each day and tried to apply them in my daily life. From an introverted and quiet young girl, I’ve changed into someone who is able to speak up for myself. With the help of others, I was able to mature and improve,” she shared. 

Another former resident, Ashley* said her time at Shelter taught her an important truth: that she is loved and never alone. 

She hopes to be a successful artist and is studying multimedia at a local private university. 

“On difficult days, I pray to God and always try to remember there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” she said. 

Diana and Ashley had performed well academically throughout secondary school. 

In recognition of their efforts, Fan and his team launched a public appeal for sponsorship and have raised enough to support both girls in their first year of tertiary education. 

The goal is develop confident children in Christ-centred families 

Fan acknowledges that many churches have their own social concern initiatives, and many of these efforts are admirable. 

Shelter Home, he says, could be a suitable option for churches that want to create an impact in society but lack the resources or manpower to run their own programmes. 

Shelter Home general manager Chris Fan is appealing for greater support from the local Church in providing children the hope of a brighter future.

“There are many ways churches can partner with us to make a difference in the lives of Malaysia’s children. An example could be to sponsor a few children as a church or even as a cell group,” he said. 

Shelter’s child sponsorship programme is RM60 per month. Contributions are pooled to ensure every child’s needs, not just physical areas such as food and clothing, are cared for.

“Many of our children come from challenging backgrounds, requiring trauma counselling and emotional support. Our case workers also visit their families regularly as part of our strategy for restoration and reunification,” he explained. 

Fan and his team are also mulling ways to engage the next generation of supporters, beginning with university students and fresh graduates. 

Currently, Shelter’s operating expenses amount to RM130,000 every month, supporting 28 staff members, 40 home residents and a daily after-school programme in Lembah Subang. 

The after-school programme was birthed to prevent children from engaging in vice and gangsterism. It operates on weekdays and provides lunch, tuition and activities for children. 

At present, not many organisations, donors or churches support Shelter permanently. 

But by God’s grace, the team kept the operations going each month despite our financial struggle to stay afloat.

“Our mission starts with rescue, then moves to restoration and finally, reunification. That’s our hope and prayer, that every child will be reunited with their God-given family in a safe, loving and thriving environment,” Fan said. 

All donations to Shelter Home for Children are tax-exempted (LHDN 01/35/42/51/179-6.3700). To donate, partner or find out more about the organisation, click here

*Names have been changed to protect identities. 

Photos provided by Shelter Home.

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