I tried to capture the emotion inside myself when I saw a young boy standing in front of a cracked mirror inside this privately run shelter and school. Al Hafiz is an orphanage for abandoned, homeless and poor children in Chenderong Balai, Perak, northern Malaysia. During my first visit to the shelter, I learnt that it is single-handedly run by a woman who only wants to be known as Mak Long. Staying out of the limelight, Mak Long has dedicated her life, after retiring as a top government official, to helping children. She spent all her savings and energy building the basic infrastructure, like the hostels and the classrooms for the kids. She even cooked for them. In 2007, the shelter provided education and protection for about 40 kids from different backgrounds. That number grows every year. Al Hafiz has become a symbol of hope for these young children, most of whom faced great difficulties in the early stages of their lives. What Mak Long is doing might be the remedy to heal these children’s broken hearts.
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