“Dream big, be kind, take a deep breath and jump – try it out.”

In episode 42, Sham chats with Dr. Hartini Zainuddin. Tini, as she is better known, has dedicated her life to rescuing children, giving children a chance to thrive and is an activist for children. She also fundraises with vehemence towards the cause.

“Everyone has callings and for me it took a long time to realise where I was going to do it.”


She is the founder of Yayasan Chow Kit and is a philanthropic and fundraising consultant for UNICEF, and used to be the CEO of Sit Sapura Husain, an organisation that works with the poor and marginalised. She is the Vice President of Voice of the Children, a Malaysian NGO that does advocacy work, law and policy reforms and training on children’s issues.  She has worked on children’s issues in the United States and Malaysia for 26 years, and worked on children’s educational issues in New York, serving as a member of the Junior Council of Ted Forstman’s ‘Voucher School ‘ system, a junior council of “Publicolor”, a New York based not- for profit organization that works with chancellor school kids (children who are the lowest performing students in schools in New York), served on the committee of the “Big Apple Circus”, which works with underprivileged children through the Arts and served as Chairperson for the “Junior Board of the Kitchen”, a New York based Performing Arts organization.She has a plethora of accolades and awards to her name but most importantly she is known as a champion of children.

I love making jokes and eating cupcakes!

Show recap:

  • Tini has worked on children’s rights for the last 35 years in the US and in Malaysia
  • She believes it is extra important that she does what she does. She knows now she is a child rights activist and not just an advocate – she defends the rights of all children and works to help any child who is abused, discriminated against.
  • She started with doing direct services for children who were marginalised – be it in the US or in Malaysia. She works mostly with refugee children and any child who has had his or her basic rights taken away.
  • Tini takes this all personally especially as has adopted stateless children, as a single mom – out of the six children, five of them are stateless.
  • Tini was trained as a teacher at Columbia University and has a doctorate in education. But she never went into academic teaching and went the non profit path.
  • Tini started her fundraising career by first working for Ruth Shuman, the founder of Publicolor – where she learned the ropes.
  • As she works with children, she defines programs that need funds in order to have a broader reach. And hence she focuses more and more on fundraising.
  • From learning from one of her worst failures – losing some children to the a failed system, she went on to form a shelter.
  • She rescues, picks up abandoned babies and it is absolutely consuming so it is more of a balancing act to learn to be just ‘mommy’ and let some things go.
  • Tini sees the co-founding of a shelter as one of her successes.
  • A sense of humour is very important!

I try to carve out spaces for the different aspects of my life.”

Connect with Tini