CARING FOR THE CAREGIVERS
By Asian Beacon
How far would you go to help a total stranger on the street?
For AgapeCARE Melaka, it was this one act of kindness towards a child which led to a ministry that pioneered a work amongst single mothers.
It began with a Christian couple, a lawyer and his wife who met a young child in an unplanned meeting. It happened during a simple dinner, which would eventually change the lives of many single mothers in Melaka.
Miss Gan of AgapeCARE shares the true story of how it happened.
“It began one day, a Christian couple was eating at a food court. While they were having their meal, a little girl carrying a lot of keropok bags came over to sell some to them. The husband who was a lawyer was curious as the following day was a school day, so he questioned the girl.
“Aren’t you going to school tomorrow? Why are you still going around here at 8 – 9 pm selling keropok,” he said.
The little girl replied that it was her mother who asked her to sell keropok.
After a friendly chat, they discovered that her mother was a single mother, and needed her to help sell keropok in order to support the family.
Moved by her story the wife brought all the keropok from the little girl and asked her to go home.
Later on the lawyer’s wife brought the keropok to my bible study group,” Gan recalled.
She added that after showing them the packets she challenged them.
“Look, we are all Christians. Here is a single mother in need with her daughter. What are we going to do about it?” She asked.
“After an intense discussion, we all agreed to start a single mother’s ministry. We started it because, we didn’t want single mothers to raise up children in way that would repeat itself throughout history. In many of these single parents’ homes, the mother is left to care for the child after the husband had divorced her, or has been sent off to jail. Some of the mothers have no choice and have to work unsavoury jobs. Among these single mothers were those who worked as Carlsberg beers servers at bars and night clubs, as part of their second income at night.
Thus AgapeCARE a non-profit registered society was officially launched on 1 April 2007.
“In order to help these single mothers we contacted one of our church friends. She had a big factory that processes food. So, she gave us bags with zip locks for food packing purposes. We gave them to single mothers, so they could take them back and work from home. In this way they can stay home at night and don’t have to become beer servers,” Miss Gan explained.
On top of that AgapeCARE managed to find other factory jobs such as cutting fruits for packaging for single mothers. But due to the increasing number of single mothers, AgapeCARE is still on the lookout for Christian Business owners who may be able to provide small jobs for these single mothers.
Miss Gan also stated that AgapeCARE does more than serve single mothers.
“Besides the mothers, we also care for the children. We help in the process of transferring a child to a different school. We started an after school daycare for little children, since their mothers work late. We take care of the children until their parents return to take them home. Here we cook for the children, bath them, and watch over them until their mothers come over at 5pm. The day care is at our Agape office. We also tutor the children, as we believe that education is a must to help them break free from the poverty cycle,” she explained.
She said that when they first started it was a miracle that God blessed the project by providing many kind souls who were willing to provide places for their operations.
“How we got the places is through God’s blessing. When we started off, we were using the upstairs of a Wesley church as an office. It was a goodwill offer by the pastor of the church. We went around spreading the news that we were here to help the single mothers. When word got out, the single mothers who heard the news also shared it with one another in the same predicament, and thus our numbers automatically increased,” she said.
She added, meanwhile other kind souls also started to offer more places to them to do the ministry. Although AgapeCARE maintains primary focus on poor single parent families, the society has now extended its services to other marginalised groups, particularly the elderly and unwed mothers.
“Then later, one single Christian girl asked us to take her shop lot and to renovate it for AgapeCARE use. We decided to use this for another ministry which is called Crisis Exit. It’s actually a place of shelter for victims of domestic abuse. It is also a place of refuge for young girls who may even be still schooling, and have gotten accidently pregnant,” she explained.
But AgapeCARE does not just stop there. In fact, the organisation has branched off into many other different ministries. “Our latest venture is Life Guide. This is a place where we are setting up a school for UNCHR refugees in Melaka,” Miss Gan said.
As such Agape CARE welcomes contributions from all over the society so that they will continue to grow out and to reach those in need at all different places, continually.
And to think of it, it all happened from a simple kind act of helping a child in need.