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Rosmah's Visit To US Boost Malaysia's Image | 01/05/2010
Untitled document KUALA LUMPUR, May 1 2010 (Bernama) -- Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor's recent trip to the United States significantly boosted Malaysia's image abroad, especially in sharing experiences through her child development programmes, promotion of the country's varied culture as well as her wide-ranging charity work.

Not only did she play the gracious role of the wife of the Malaysian Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, in Washington and New York, Rosmah also largely complemented Najib's visit which opened up a new chapter of improved ties with the US on many fronts.

For starters, when given the honour of participating at the prestigious Women's International Forum's (WIF) "First Ladies Speak" held at the United Nations Economic and Social Affairs (ECOSOC) Chamber in New York, she spoke on the crucial need to invest in the children's future as they would be the human capital of the future.

Rosmah was also awarded the International Peace and Harmony Award from the US Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU) in recognition of her extensive charitable work.

The award was also a celebration of the fast-expanding vital linkages between Malaysia and the US.

It was presented by a council that was incepted in 1955 as a White House initiative, and which has been a neutral and result-oriented partner, facilitating dialogues and alliances between world businesses and political leaders.

Undeniably, this complemented Najib's endeavour to start a fresh chapter in bilateral relations with the world's superpower on an equitable basis and one that promises to be mutually beneficial via increased trade and investments, so crucial as both economies begin to recover the global economic crisis.

At the Women's International Forum's special convention, where Rosmah and Jamaican Prime Minister's wife Lorna Golding were invited to speak, she passionately spoke on why helping children in need was a continuous journey and that the international community could not rest on their laurels in their quest to help the young ones.

She called for the empowerment of children the world over, especially those in need.

In calling for all to pull together towards a common purpose in helping by empowering children, Rosmah also shared her own experience in running the Permata Negara programme which she initiated more than three years ago.

A pertinent point about the Permata programme was that in helping children, the initiatives must start when they are at a very young age, which was why in Malaysia, the programme's thrust was on providing education for those children below the age of four from underprivileged families in rural and among urban poor.

The international audience, mainly members of the global organisations, whose members consist of wives of diplomats and representatives accredited to the United Nations, and also women working in various professions, were responsive during the question and answer session.

They even made a beeline to meet up personally with Rosmah to seek further information on development programmes for children in Malaysia.

Her commitment in developing programmes that can enhance the Permata Negara project, which has been expanded to include gifted children and wayward youths, led her to observe and study successful community projects in Washington.

The visit also left a lasting impression on members of the Association of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers (Bakti), as well as the wives of Menteri Besar and Chief Ministers who were part of her delegation.

They too received a first-hand update of children and youth programmes which had been successfully implemented in the US aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle. It also included new techniques in teaching autistic children.

They also visited the Sitar Arts Center, which had been presented " The Coming Up Taller" award by First Lady Michelle Obama in recognition of its role as a premier-after school arts and humanities organisations serving youths in the community.

Another visit was to Martha's Table, an after-school centre for children in a once drug community area.

Such visits exposed Bakti members to the need to set up such centres in Malaysia where the young ones could spend their free time productively.

At these non-profit centres, it was clear that Rosmah and her delegation were bowled over by the commitment shown by the volunteers in running the centres so well.

The volunteers had untirelessly helped many underprivileged children to achieve their dreams to pursue higher studies as well as in the field of arts and culture.

It was obvious that when meeting up with the children and youths, Rosmah's warmth towards them was telling as she engaged in long discussions and showed keen interest in their projects and activities.

In return, they too listened as she explained to them about Malaysia, its people and cultures. It was obvious the young ones were awed by her presence.

Rosmah's maternal instinct was evident when she hugged them and the American teachers present were touched by what they saw.

This was especially so at the IvyMount School in Rockville, about 20km from Washington, a non-profit day school for autistic children, those suffering from mental retardation, speech and language impairment, multiple disabilities and others.

Rosmah touched the hearts of many there, especially the autistic students, where she showed care and concern, a vital ingredient necessary towards improving their learning abilities.

She spent time to listen to them singing and performing, conversing with them and encouraging them to come forward and express themselves.

At Martha's Table, the youths there spent the afternoon exchanging views with Rosmah on the benefits of the centre which not only was a retreat for them after school, but had assisted them in acquiring extra skills which enabled them to make some extra income.

In Washington, Rosmah brought what was surely value-added ambience to an already rich tapestry of Malaysian culture and colours when launching the " Faces of 1Malaysia Festival", and portrayed the warmth of Malaysians being gracious hosts.

When launching the first segment of the festival at the prestigious National Geographic Society's (NGS) headquarters in the American capital on a sunny Sunday afternoon, Rosmah took time to brief her audience on Malaysia, its people, food and culture, and the 1Malaysia concept.

The festival, dubbed the Symbol of Friendship between Two Nations and organised by the Ministry of Information Communication and Culture, not only dazzled the international visitors with Malaysia's multi-racial music and cultural performances, but also tempted their palate with all-time Malaysian favourites such as satay ayam, roti canai and taufu bakar.

During a walkabout to the food stalls, Rosmah was sporting enough to show her skills in making "teh tarik" to the delight of the international visitors.

In all, Rosmah's working visit to the United States was a value-added trip which managed to expose Bakti members to the various programmes and techniques to curb social ills among youths.

It was also beneficial as the First Lady engaged in what was surely effective networking in sharing experiences with others and bringing back valuable knowledge perhaps in instituting new programmes and improve existing ones with the single-minded purpose of helping those children really in need.

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