A Malaysian, Norani Abu Bakar is currently a Post Graduate Fellow at the Yale Center for Faith and Culture (YCFC) and her research work focuses on “Faith, Society, and Leadership.” She is also the Asia Director for Pathways For Mutual Respect (PFMR), a non-profitable organization which vision is to forge mutual respect in diversified communities.
Norani did her Masters of Arts in Religion at the Yale University, and took many courses related to reconciliation, religious conflict, and faith and globalization. During her studies, she founded the International Students Fellowship and was very engaged in fostering close relationships among the international students.
Her passion in engaging diversified community does not stop at Yale. Norani was selected to attend the Yale and Al-Azhar University Spring semester program in Cairo, and was among the ten Yale graduate students that were invited by Prince Turki Al Faisal, the former Director General of Saudi Arabia’s Al Mukhabarat Al A’amah (the Saudi’s highest intelligence office) to participate in cross-cultural exchange and experience in Riyadh.
Norani also holds MBA in Asian Studies and BSc. Chemical Engineering, specializing in Conventional and Nuclear Power Plant Engineering. She was a Senior Process Engineer and a Process Engineering Project Team Leader at Siemens Power Generation, Germany and Malaysia.
Interestingly, after years of working as an engineer and a specialist in water steam cycle for Combined Cycle Power Plant, Norani bench-marked the home décor market scene in Shanghai by establishing the first Southeast Asian Life Style store (Asian Touch) there in 2000.
Five years later, she used her Asian Touch company to found Home Sweet Home (HSH) – an organization that runs a holistic intervention program for the homeless and differently-able orphans who were homeless or grew up in orphanages in China.
Tenants of House of Love (HSH) in 2007
HSH send-off dinner for Norani before leaving for study at Yale in 2009
Home Sweet Home has served thousands of the shelter-less and above aged orphans, and draws partners and volunteers worldwide. Norani was not only the executive director but also the mother to the special people there. In December 2008 she was featured in BBC World News, and a year before, HSH was awarded charity of the year by the Expatriate Professional Women Society (EPWS) in Shanghai.
Her commitment to love and to care for the marginalized, and her experience in community project development had given her the opportunities to serve the marginalized in other places in China. She worked closely with the China government authority to establish new projects in difficult areas.
Norani has traveled to almost 30 countries and lived in Malaysia, Canada, Germany, Thailand, China, USA, and Singapore. She loves people, and is passionate about culture and faith. In her quiet time, she enjoys reading, writing, decorating, cooking, watching movies, and cycling.