Rights advocate visits

DATO’ Anusha Santhirasthipam is a woman of standing in her native Malaysia and is renowned as an advocate for women’s rights. A barrister who graduated with a law degree in England, she has a passion to see women and children be properly empowered and helped to attain a better quality of life for themselves. She is the president of the Soroptimist International (SI)– South West Pacific Federation, and is also the chairperson of Soroptimist Foundation of Malaysia.
Anusha (which is her first name, as Dato’ is a title of honour like Dame), was in the country over the past week primarily to charter a new SI club in Wewak.
Accompanied by SIP PNG national president Kylian Kenni-Naeman, she had the honour of meeting with Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, which was a highlight of her entire trip. Anusha expressed great delight in meeting with Sir Michael whom she said “was most interested in what we can do to educate and enable rural poor to be economically independent, productive, resilient and enterprising.”
They also discussed “sustainable grassroots projects that included village-based enterprises for self-sufficiency and to tackle violence, addictions, social problems and cultural conditioning.” These things have always been on the heart of our founding father who is renowned for having developed strong policies for agriculture, macro-economics and developmental planning in his tenure as prime minister.
Education rural Malaysian women
For Anusha, the passion for fighting for underprivileged women began soon after graduating with her law degree in 1982. In 1983, she founded the Association of Women Lawyers in Malaysia. With other women lawyers, they acquired a bus fitted with microphones and speakers, and toured through the villages in rural Malaysia giving educational talks to women, explaining to them their rights under the law in a culture of violence against women. They also taught about employment rights to help those being used and abused in the work place.
In 1992, Anusha pioneered investor relations in Malaysia. An investment banker, she is an expert in that particular field in South East Asia, successfully securing support from developed nations to help advance sustainable projects in poorer countries.
She has seen the benefit of her work in assisting such projects return dividends to the people concerned, in her own country and outside as well. In that regard, Anusha wears another hat, that of CEO and president of Buddi Tree Capital, which deals with the business aspect of investment.
In seeing what sustainable projects can do to help alleviate poverty and its associated effects, we realise that PNG is no different. We too have a lot of social problems that are associated with the widening divide between the haves and have-nots; and with the rate of push-outs from the school system, unemployment, and rampant drug and alcohol abuse, the scene is set for disaster – unless means are sought to help improve the quality of life for our people.
SI is one organisation that is working hard to give the means to the grassroots people to engage in sustainable projects that will improve their livelihood and so help stem the tide of lawlessness.
The SI South West Pacific federation began in 1978. It grew from three countries, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, to 12, including Mongolia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Samoa, Singapore, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
The Port Moresby chapter of SI has been very busy over the past few years helping place water tanks in many of our settlements because of the need for clean water. They have been a great help to the underprivileged women and children in these settlements.
The esteemed barrister urged SI chapters in the country to “do something tangible” to improve the lot for our womenfolk.
“We must aim for delivery of safe and affordable water, healthcare, sanitation, education, and equal opportunities for women and children in our communities,” she said.

  • Rev Seik Pitoi is a freelance writer.

I know that I’m saved

MANY will have their own stories to tell about how they had a breakthrough. In this short article, I want to share an experience that completely changed my life.
On May 31 this year, at around noon, I sat down in my room, and began making an assessment of my life. I tried to count all the bad I’d done and weigh them against all the good, while piecing together decision puzzles of the 24 years of my life. Then I thought to myself, it was hopeless and pointless to try to do all these thinking and living on my own. I have always been a loser in life. From friendships to relationships, schooling to working. My life wasn’t stable.
To conclude, I was lost, confused, broken and in need.
Thus, for the first time in my life, I realised that I was actually a sinner. I also realised for the first time, I needed saving. I needed someone to save me from my guilt, shame, confusion, hopelessness. I cannot continue in this charade any longer. It’s a struggle. So, I thought once more, “it’s now or never.”Then it suddenly dawned on me. John 3:16.
Someone did come and die. Quietly, I fell down on my knees and wept for a short while.
Then with a low-pitched voice I cried out to God, muttering out words of praise from my heart, my voice barely sounding, I thanked Him for His Love for me. I then raised my hands towards heaven and spoke these words, “Thank you Jesus, to come, and die, on the cross, for me, washing away, all my sins, with your blood. I believe you now, and receive you, as my savior.”
I paused. Immediately I felt my heart grow cold, weaker, every second of each beat.
My whole being had crippled. Words cannot describe the feeling. It felt like I was breathed a new life. I didn’t get it then, but it was a new life breathed in me.
For several more minutes, I kept sitting still, being lost in the moment.
Finally, I slowly opened my eyes, to glare at the flat piece of green wall in front of me. Particles of bright golden lines shot straight like strokes of yellow paint onto my face and splattered the walls of my room.
All of a sudden, my surrounding grew brighter. Gently, I placed both my hands on the floor and rose to my feet, knowing now, with faith, I have been saved.
Christ had found His place in my heart.

  • Nathan Goma is a freelance writer/blogger.