When he couldn’t take the abuse any longer eight year old Che Rozi Azrul Che Aziz ran away to his grandmother’s grave and stayed there for three days until someone brought him to the social welfare department (JKM).
JKM sent him to Rumah Kanak Kanak (RKK) Tengku Fatimah, an orphanage in Kuantan.
After his grandmother passed away Azrul had stayed with several aunts who forced him to clean their houses, didn’t send him to school and physically abused him.
After three years at RKK he transferred to Rumah Budak Laki-laki Tun Abdul Aziz in Melaka. On the day he returned from his SPM exams he found all his belongings packed in a bag. At seventeen he was told to leave his institutional home. Legally he wasn’t an adult and Azrul didn’t have a place he could call home.
A friend arranged accommodation for him and he worked in a restaurant to make ends meet. Despite the adversity Azrul was determined to further his education. He enrolled in a mechanical engineering programme and got a job. Joy turned bittersweet when he learnt his employer wanted to help an orphan and had hired him out of pity rather than merit.
The experience spurred Azrul. He collaborated with the social welfare department to establish an organisation to help orphans who have to leave their institutions when they turn eighteen. Pertubuhan Bekas Penghuni Institusi was founded in 2009. A little later Azrul and a few friends started halfway house Purple Homes to help young people making that difficult transition from institutions to looking after themselves.
Azrul and his friends at Purple Homes offer career guidance, arrange for sponsors, student loans and help look for jobs and accommodation. They run a catering service and operate food stalls to fund themselves. This is Azrul’s way of giving back.