35 Years 35 Stories
Ooi Kiah Hui
Former Director of Rural & Urban Community Development, now Coordinator – Policy, Advocacy & Research (since becoming a mother)
This is my first job and it has been 14 years! Going by the life expectancy of 73.5 years, I have spent 20% of my life with Malaysian Care. To my longevity with Care, one high schoolmate said, “Wow! I salute you for dedicating yourself to a job with Care. I’m sure you must find your career a very satisfying and rewarding one.” Behind that comment, I hear an assumption: I am staying with Care because I find my work tremendously rewarding.
Does longevity in a job equates fulfilment? Does length of stay equals good investment of precious youthful years towards a worthy cause? I wonder.
Let me start from the beginning. Upon completing my MSc in conservation biology, I felt God germinating a desire which He has deposited in my heart since I was a teenager. When I read through academic journal articles on the restoration of post-conflict Rwanda, the thought of broken lives living among the devastated environment occupied my mind. At the same time, I was challenged by the message on Jesus’ primary mission to bring good news to the poor (Luke 4:18). Through a song of Dan Schutte, “Here I am Lord”, I was led to see the Creator of heaven and earth holding the hungry, poor, cold and broken hearted with deep concern, and is able to provide for them through willing vessels. The lyrics of the song played through weeks of quiet evenings, amidst one of which I responded to God with a ‘yes’.
As a Biology student, I was aware of the mismatch of knowledge I have acquired with a job in social work. Propelled by my desire to give God my youth, the first fruits of my life, I went ahead green as grass and started the adventures in Care. My parents could not believe I was serious with my career choice and granted their blessings only years later.
It was hard especially in the beginning. It always felt like deep end, first in HR followed by the then newly restructured Rural and Urban Community Development department. Without the right skills, I had many banging-on-the-wall experiences. Senior colleagues guided me. Their godly lives, convictions and perseverance encouraged me. Over time, skills were gained and I learned.
In Care, almost everything was my first – learning to drive any vehicle from a van, a jeep to a truck, working with people from various cultural backgrounds (along with that, are memories of authentic Indian, Acehnese, Orang Asli, Burmese and Malay cuisines), starting economic and education projects (through that, seeing God’s miraculous provision of all resources and witnessing God’s restoration work in broken lives).
Was it fulfilling and worthy of my youth? I could not ask for a better place to participate in God’s faithful provision, to eyewitness God rebuilding shattered lives again and again, and to be given a small part in the grand scheme of His Kingdom.