In January 2022, the Akar Umbi Development Society, sister organisation of SUKA Society, an IDC member, launched the first series of workshops of the Azalea Initiative. The initiative is a women’s leadership development programme that aims to empower women of marginalised identities and increase their capacities to become changemakers within their communities. The aspiration is for them to become advocates in their own right, and catalyse change towards alternatives to detention (ATD) and an end to immigration detention.

Participants of the Azalea Initiative presenting an activity during the ‘Visioning Human Rights workshop session. Photo credit: Akar Umbi Development Society

In collaboration with IDC and IDC partners in Malaysia, and with close reference to IDC’s Community Leadership Curriculum, Akar Umbi has developed their pilot programme with modules surrounding themes of migration, identities, power, resilience, justice, solidarity and community organising. IDC’s Community Leadership Curriculum was developed with the goal of supporting the leadership and meaningful participation of people who have experienced or have been at risk of immigration detention. This is grounded in our belief that people with lived experience of detention must be involved in shaping the policies that directly impact their own lives and communities.

Participants in action during the Justice and Solidarity workshop sessions. Photo credit: Akar Umbi Development Society

The first series of workshops of the Azalea Initiative was joined by 12 participants, who began their journey of learning how to plan, lead and implement projects with Akar Umbi’s support. A participant of the Azalea initiative reflected, “I now feel I can go outside to work if I wanted to. Before this, I felt that I could only stay at home and be a home-maker,” demonstrating the significance of an initiative like this in changing lives, even in its initial stages.

For more information on the Azalea Initiative, visit Akar Umbi Development Society’s website and Instagram. For more information about IDC’s Community Leadership Curriculum, please contact IDC Communications & Engagement Coordinator, Mia-lia Boua Kiernan at [email protected]


Written by Hannah Jambunathan Community & Engagement Organiser – Malaysia