KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 17 — Condoms. Say the word and watch Datin Mina Cheah-Foong swing into action.
The Rampai Niaga Sdn Bhd managing director, who holds the Malaysian franchise for The Body Shop, has been selling condoms in all the outlets since the mid-1990s.
She also got into action to help raise funds for the Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF) for about 20 years as a board of trustee member.
She also chaired the MAF Paediatric AIDS Fund.
Cheah-Foong was among those honoured with the patron’s award at the Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Award Gala Dinner last night for her long service with the foundation.
But way back before helping to raise funds, condoms were more or less a taboo subject to talk about, let alone be seen purchasing them.
Cheah-Foong was, however, determined to provide a safe space for both men and women to purchase the product and at the same time, educate them about HIV/AIDS.
To this day, condoms are sold at an affordable price at The Body Shop in packaging with useful information about how to use one, safe sex and HIV.
Each packet comes with three condoms and lubricant.
“It all started because I have a lot of women employees. And I realised a need for them to be safe whether they were married or not,” she said.
She duly organised for talks to be conducted by PT Foundation and subsequently, decided to sell condoms in an effort to have Malaysians practise safe sex.
It was, she said, not only an effort to raise funds for PT Foundation (PTF), but also to spread awareness.
“It also provided income for sex workers because they were hired to pack the condoms,” she said.
To date, there have been about 10 versions of packaging, and while the funds raised used to go to PTF, they now go to MAF.
During her tenure as board member, Cheah-Foong also sought to raise funds through initiatives like “selling tables” for the foundation’s gala dinners.
“The task of ‘selling tables’ for sums like RM150,000 was quite frightening. But when I joined the foundation, I was impressed by the work they did. So, I became determined to do it,” she said.
She added that she pushed through with her fund-raising efforts fully knowing that every ringgit raised would help children living with HIV and their families.
“Even RM200 a month for them makes a huge difference. One mother came up to me and said receiving the money meant that her family would be able to have rice, kicap, egg and vegetables. Not just rice and kicap,” she recalled.
“And there are the relatives who look after children whose parents have died. They have so much compassion.”
She added that she resigned from the position as she felt the time had come for her to do so.
“Besides, there are other people to carry on the work. They are doing a good job,” she said.
“I feel this award is a gift for what I feel was not work at all for me. It was just something that I decided to do.”
Malay Mail was media partner for the event.