I am Rahayu, 49 years old, born in Malaysia, raised and educated in Singapore. Since 2010, I have been active in community work with people who are homeless, drug users, sex-workers and with the HIV/AIDS community. I have no qualms about telling people about my status – a former sex worker (I was sold to the brothel by my former husband), I am a recovering drug user and HIV-positive since 2005. In 2017, my life story came third place at the Women International Short Film Festival in Pakistan. I was selected by British born artist, Vix Harris, for her 50 Rebel Women project alongside Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Amelia Earhart and other influential women.
In 2017, I set up a shelter for HIV-positive women, Sinar Sofia, in Johor Bahru and to-date I am still running it. To sustain the shelter, I crowdfunded via launchgood.com and all proceeds from my autobiography Be Careful of this Woman: My Journey to Freedom go to the shelter. We also accept donations on the Sinar Sofia website.
Besides running Sinar Sofia, I hold other responsibilities:
- Country Coordinating Mechanism for Global Fund (CCM-PLHIV Women)
- Board Member of the Cure and Care Rehabilitation Centre, Kota Tinggi, Johor, Malaysia
- Board Member of International Community of Women Living with HIV – Asia Pacific Region (ICWAP) @ICWAPasiapac
- Vice Chairperson of Positive Living Women of Malaysia (WAPOMA)
- A volunteer with Sultanah Aminah Hospital, Johor Bahru, Malaysia