As the CEO of a Charitable Foundation, which runs two arms; the Medicare Heart Charity Fund, which runs the first charitable cardiac diagnostic and treatment centre in Malaysia and Medicare Kidney Charity Fund, which houses 12 dialysis centres throughout the country, Dato’ Aliyah Karen raises millions of ringgit each year to sustain their highly subsidized programs.
Over the last twenty years she has started many new initiatives to benefit poor Malaysians, who are in dire need of financial and medical assistance.
A strong believer “we are here not just to live, but to give”, Dato’ Aliyah Karen was recognised as a Women Icon Malaysia in 2019.
In this conversation with AsiaBizToday, she shares insights into her professional life and what keeps her going.
Your Career, Journey & Passion
I was a Public servant for three years prior to moving into a non-profit, which I was quite sure then, that it was temporary. 21 years later, am still here at MAA Medicare Charitable Foundation, where I serve mainly the underprivileged kidney and cardiac patients and get to organize and plan events while ensuring our patients get the support and medical treatment they rightfully deserve. Obviously, the passion to make a difference has led me to explore and assist others beyond the doors of the foundation.
How did it all start and what are some of the activities that you undertake?
The Foundation was established in 1995 and I joined them in 1998. The sole purpose of establishing the Foundation was to assist patients who couldn’t afford dialysis treatment, especially at private centres by providing highly subsidised dialysis treatments. The last 24 years, Medicare has assisted and provided medical treatment and care to thousands of needy kidney sufferers. 12 dialysis centres in 9 states with over 800 patients currently are receiving treatments 3x a week on 4 hour sessions each treatment. As we are not government funded nor receive any public grants, we constantly organize events and programs to raise funds. We have established the patients welfare fund to help kidney patients who can barely afford the daily necessities let alone their treatment cost. We have the Kids@Medicare program to assist the school going children of our patients with back to school supplies each year end. We have the CARE (care and respect the environment)program our staff and patients commit to recycling medical waste, boxes and wood platelets into some interesting craft items etc.
Your motivation to get into this
The sense of satisfaction from being able to help the needy and make an impactful difference; day in day out.
Your experiences running this venture
I’ve learnt that transparency and honesty in handling public funds is crucial; using them wisely for the benefit of the patients have created opportunities for many people to know and trust the Foundation and continuously support it. That we need to be prudent in our spending without compromising the quality medical care we offer our patients.
The important factors that keep you going
That the Foundation is the second home for kidney patients and a new alternative home for heart patients who simply cannot afford the exorbitant cost of private treatments.
Challenges you have faced
The obstacles are usually due to manpower and financial resources, both of which we could use more of. My line of work is not gender related. The good news is people recognize the good work I have done, much of the credit should go to my team which helps me consistently. The unpleasant news is that people assume I may not fit into a male dominant role as working in an NGO means I am not a corporate head.
Your source of inspiration
I am constantly listening and learning from many great speakers and motivators who inspire me to do more. Family and Friends are constantly encouraging and giving me the boost and endorsement to carry on making a difference in the lives of the needy patients and other needy causes I have got myself into.
Your proudest moment so far
I was able to personally buy and donate a dialysis machine and have my late mum come visit one of our dialysis centres and tag it. Seeing that proud look on her face on how important she felt was a historic moment for me.
Definition of success
I believe we are placed in this world for a reason. We first strive to do and make something of our lives, which we eventually call ‘achievements’. We then should assist others with our achievements and make a difference no matter how small it is. When we can share, care and love without thinking twice nor expecting anything in return we have achieved success.
Regardless of what you set out to do, pay it forward first. Help before you’re helped and give before you’re given. Pay up front so all you need to do later is collect and cash in!