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Spring 2012
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Student Journals

Strategic Management and Fundraising Consulting for the Cancer Resource and Education (CaRE) program, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

SMART Team with Aida, a cancer survivor, and Prof. Mazanah Muhamad and Prof. Rosemary Caffarella - the two CaRE co-founders
Credit: Tamara Struk

SMART Team with Aida, a cancer survivor, and Prof. Mazanah Muhamad and Prof. Rosemary Caffarella - the two CaRE co-founders

The Cancer Resource and Education (CaRE) program in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, provides much-needed support to breast cancer sufferers, survivors, and their communities. CaRE is a cooperative project of the Universiti Putra Malaysia and Cornell, among others. This year, Cornell students Alicia Freedman, Ashley Hollister, Tamara Struk, and Xiomara Chavez-Suarez travelled to Malaysia with Professor Rosemary Caffarella to aid the organization in revamping and strengthening its donor system. Students were tasked with finding ways to increase donor support, initiate new contacts, and come up with fundraising events to raise contributions.

Day 1 (1/5/12)

One of the main subjects of the meeting was about the goal that we have for improving the current donation system at CaRE. We realized that the competition for funding does not create enemies. They are all raising money for cancer so they should not look at other NGOs as competition, rather as collaborators. Finally, we also were impressed but also confused by the number of projects that they have operating at CaRE. On the one hand, it is great that they support different causes within cancer; on the other, it looks like the projects do not have an end, and they might be too ambitious.

Day 2 (1/6/12)

A lot of interest in the international sector came up in the conversations with the students at the tea break. We learned the school gives the students funding to cover some of their studies, and we learned many foreign students have received permission and funding from their home governments. The recommendation that the CaRE resource center be transferred to a new and more easily accessible location is quite interesting. They are currently looking for space in the hospital. Right now the office is on the seventh floor of the medical school and a bit hard to find.

Day 6 (1/10/12)

We continue to be pleasantly surprised that powerful people we meet here are so down to earth. It’s amazing how easy it is for someone in power to get things done (“talk to my assistant”). These powerful people seem to respect Cornell and the formal memorandum of understanding. In Malaysia, it also helps that there are a lot of agricultural graduates from Cornell.

Day 8 (1/12/12)

Big day today! Cancer Survivorship Round Table Discourse Day. The participants of the workshop were well selected. The conversation was intense in the first group because there was a survivor who is 6 months old (based on the date of his diagnosis) and is going through a hard transition. The second group seemed to be a bit more lighthearted because the cancer survivor is into singing and dancing and was quite cheerful. One of the cancer survivors who is six months into his treatment seems to be really struggling. After Aida spoke he seemed to be a bit more accepting of the environment he was in. She said that the terms “fighting cancer” should be substituted with “accept.” We think that it’s so important to have a choice in life of how to handle the situations cancer victims are faced with. We had a debate about the importance of having health insurance, and, in one of the groups, many of the comments revolved around trying to establish a culture of the importance of having health insurance because one never knows when they will need it. Survivors need a choice in the way they decide to handle their treatment. Overall the staff at the office seemed pleased with the response of the participants.

Day 9 (1/13/12)

Today Alicia received interesting clarification from Dr. Othman on CaRE’s distinction between an “education program” and an “awareness program.” Education programs are something they plan and do monthly, while awareness campaigns may publicize specific research results or be a one-time effort. Inadvertently, they are also promoting themselves and their fundraising efforts (though this was not mentioned by Dr. Othman). According to Prof. Rosemary, awareness programs at CaRE are actually just promoting general cancer awareness while education programs focus on more specific aspects, such as Islamic healing, newer treatments for cancer, or continuing education for nurses.

We also heard jokes from a nostalgic Cornell alum:
AD White and Ezra Cornell were relaxing in a warm tropical place. Ezra said: “AD, I’m going to found a University where everyone can study any subject.”
“But Ezra, if you do that everyone will want to study there. There will be too many people.”
“Oh AD, you just wait to see where I put it.”

Day 13 (1/17/12)

Today, many of the guests from the survivorship program and some additional Cornell alumni came to our farewell lunch. We were happy with the response we received and look forward to continued contact with many—some immediately “friended” us on Facebook! The beauty, kindness, and hospitality we experienced in Malaysia, and at CaRE, made the experience unforgettable for all of us.