Archive | October, 2012

Confession of a new mother doing charity work

18 Oct

I’ve been wanting to write about this topic and seeking for feedback for a long time. The enthusiasm grew larger especially during the recent Ramadhan. Finally, here I am at The Banjaran, seated on a solid wood furniture inside a limestone cave trying to put my thoughts together. Indeed this is a different kind of retreat experience compared to my usuals, which are the islands and spas in the city.

Reciting Yaasin with a nenek during Ramadhan as most of them has poor eye sight

I can’t really say how young I was when I was introduced to charity & welfare activities. One thing for sure I could feel the charity atmosphere since I was small. My late mum one thing for sure was a giver. I would not say that we are well off but we were comfortable. My late mum would buy gifts from time to time for our loved ones and donate our seldom use items to those who need them most. She would prepare simple foods if we were going to make special visits. The smile on their faces was very satisfying. There was also my late Nenda Yah (Tengku Jauhar) and Kak Wa (Azura S.) who have big hearts, warm love, selfless soul and touch of an angel. They are my biggest influence in doing charity work.

Wheelchair race in Port Dickson

It was not until I joined the Sister Enda Welfare Organization and then the Leo Club in Assunta, I got the hands-on experience and opportunity to be actively involved in charity work. I was 13 years-old then. Along the way, the charity work has taught me many priceless lessons about life especially. The beauty of being a muslim in a missionary school is charity has no boundary. We will extend our help and services regardless of race, gender, age or even time of the year. Therefore, our charity work was not only busy during Ramadhan and Syawal months but throughout the whole year. We committed our hours twice a week to either the old folks home, orphanage, disabled centres and even helping our peers with distributing food coupons, books and uniforms. Fund raising activity is my favourite as it challenges your creativity and project management skills to achieve target and objectives. My 1stconfession, I felt out of place at first as I did not understand some of these volunteers as they speak in  English most of the time and I was from a different primary school (co-ed school and speak Bahasa Malaysia most of the time). I just tagged along and smiled and eventually some helped me along the way to blend in. Some just perceived me as cold as I was not as expressive as most girls are. Being cold helped me a lot especially when it comes to handling the opposite gender and those of less fortunate. It was important to stay focus, getting the charity work done, be friendly with the less fortunate but at the same time remain emotionally detached. I can’t afford shedding tears in public, not even during my late mum’s funeral.

Old Folks Visit to Aquaria

As I grow older, the scale of charity work became larger. I was selected to represent the university in the Tun Razak Youth Leadership Award (TRYLA) program after a few rounds of interview. From there I met more charitable souls alike. Again, my volunteer work is nothing close to Radzi’s and Adeline’s but they are my catalysts until today. It was a bonus for me when I had the opportunity to continue my charity work under the company’s umbrella when I started working. I was given the privilege to sit on the company’s charity board to manage the welfare fund. It was never easy but I sure enjoyed my time with the less fortunate. It was an honour to have some of the staff knowing me as the Welfare Lady instead of my real name.

Second confession, some people who are close to me raised some concerns on my volunteer work. About 80% from the circle of volunteers I’m in are singles and they are happy not being married. Some elders were OK with charity work but against the idea of me spending time with the disables. They said it was a taboo and I might pass the disease to my offspring. Some reminded me to prioritize my volunteer work towards the muslims first. The best I could do was thanking them for their advice, put on a straight face and do what I think is right. I got married and that did not stop me from doing volunteer work except that the frequency is much less now.

Radzi & Adeline TRYLA – my motivation

I am not pious but I’m taking some baby steps to become a better person the Islamic way. Islam IS a way of life but the fact is most of the muslims I encountered with preach Islam more than practicing it in their daily life. This goes beyond Rukun Iman and Rukun Islam. In short, please don’t judge me simply because I’m wearing a hijab now. It does not make me any better than my other muslim sisters who are not wearing hijabs.

After being married, there were other challenges to conduct charity activities. Getting permission from my husband was one and getting him and our family involved was another. Allocating time and effort are the biggest part in becoming a volunteer as you have to be sincere in doing charity work. Many fresh volunteers that I met took part for many reasons and sadly some did it for bragging rights. One of the things many volunteers failed to do is blending into a home’s community. They would prefer and feel comfortable to visit a home and have a chat among themselves instead of striking a conversation with the inmates. If you are planning to volunteer in the future, I would suggest a few things to make your effort more worthwhile. Firstly, find out more about the home whether it is an old folks’, orphanage or the disables. The old folks would love if you talk to them, show some interest about their life but be careful not to be too intrusive or personal. You may want to ask for their advice or tips on area they are expert in. Never look down on them and always have some respect. Help only when necessary as some find it an insult to perceive them as being helpless. Next, the orphans may be the easiest. Play with them, enjoy yourselves but never make promises that you cannot keep. Challenge and motivate them. Some would have disease like AIDS, flu and other minor skin disease. Ask yourself whether you can handle the situation or not especially if the kids want to touch you or even hug you. You must be mentally and emotionally strong to go thru these situations. Practice makes perfect. Come with an open mind. Most often than not, the lessons I learnt from each visit is more than what I could offer them.

Handing out CNY Ang Pow while pregnant with 2nd baby

Next confession, I rather leave my children at home if I’m visiting homes. I feel that I can focus more when I’m alone. Sometimes I feel that they might catch some disease there or the old folks might scare them. But deep down, I know I want to expose charity work to them as early as they can understand. This year’s activities have definitely improved as my eldest son started asking questions after each visits and learn how to appreciate things more. My baby is manageable with the help of Boba wrap or Boba carrier. Working with a baby attached to me with limited movement and sometimes down with one hand only is better than not being there to volunteer at all. My husband appears to be calmer and more adaptable compared to our first few excursions when we first got married.

Handing out CNY goody bags with Ayfaa in my Boba wrap

All being said and done, I wish I can continue doing charity work for many years to come. I think that whatever rezeki that you receive is not 100% yours. Therefore it is our responsibility to share the rezeki with others, even the smallest amount. Sometimes, I don’t have enough to contribute monetary wise but I try to spare some time for them. I strongly believe that a great person is incomplete without his contribution towards the society. What do you think? What value do you strongly believe in and should be instilled into our children? I really hope that each visit we make will benefit not only for the homes but for members of my family as well. And I know that this will work with the help and support from my beloved family and friends. Happy volunteering!