Maria Skouras

Maria Skouras (eHomemakers): Maria describes herself as a life-long learner. She earned a BA from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, a Masters of Science degree from New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, and a Master of the Arts from NYU’s Graduate School of Arts and Science in Cultural Sociology. She then worked for seven years as the Senior Policy Analyst in NYU’s Office of Government and Community Affairs. Maria has been an active board member of The Posterus Foundation, a nonprofit based in New York City, studied abroad in Italy, London, China and Hong Kong and traveled extensively through the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. After her fellowship Maria wrote: "Speaking with locals and living in a country is the best way to learn about the real lives of citizens, not just the stories in the mainstream media. I will be more critical of what I read as a result of this experience.”

Sulastri – PT Foundation

23 Jun

Sulastri started working with the Pink Triangle Foundation (PT Foundation) in 1992 and over the years has been promoted to Manager of the Sex Workers Program.  Initially, she was searching for a place that would foster and accept her sense of individuality; she found what she was looking for at PT Foundation.

“I wanted to find the freedom to express myself.  I am so happy I can wear what I want and be myself here.  I’ve gone through a lot of difficulties; being on the street is not easy.”


While Sulastri knows the range of barriers transgender and transsexual people face; disapproval from their families, discrimination from employment opportunities, disparaging remarks from strangers; she is hopeful that more people will become tolerant with time.  She also finds that younger people who are coping with difficult situations are better equipped to handle them.

“The younger generation is more open, educated, and curious to get information they’ve never heard of before.”

And when members of the Mak Nyah (transgender) community come to PT Foundation with questions and concerns, Sulastri is happy to provide assistance.

“I am a role model for my community.  They might think they are weird or doing something wrong, but it is different here.  We tell them to be proud to be transgender—to be proud of who they are.”

As someone who has dealt with discrimination, Sulastri can identify with those who seek guidance from PT Foundation.

“I can relate because I have been through all of that.  I can read their body language and know what they are feeling.”

Even though Sulastri empathizes with those who seek guidance from her, she admits that it isn’t easy counseling members of her own community.

“There are many different issues and different circumstances – homelessness, drug users, sex workers.  Prevention and counseling is not that easy.  The problems are complex and can be shocking.”

Sulastri featured on a poster for transgender issues

To assist her clients best, Sulastri listens attentively to their concerns.

“We are not here to change them.  We are here to help them help themselves – just to guide them.”

Nisha, Sulastri’s colleague and Manager of the Transgender Program, chimes in, “We don’t play God here.”

Sulastri and Nisha

Sulastri and Nisha will be featured in an upcoming documentary by eHomemakers on inspiring women in Malaysia called Portraits of Perseverance.

Posted By Maria Skouras

Posted Jun 23rd, 2011

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