Monday, March 31, 2008

The Star's centrespread report in the Metro pages

Monday March 31, 2008
A life-line for single parents

A YOUNG mother loses her husband – the family's sole breadwinner – suddenly, leaving her at a loss as to what she should do.
All these years, she has been a housewife, staying home to care for her four children, but on the fateful day, she is forced to take on her husband's role when he drowns.
This was the nightmare that 30-year-old Rainah Kinsang faced. As if coping with the trauma of her loss was not enough, the Sabahan had to get back on her feet quickly to find a way to pay the bills and put food on the table for her children.

Thankfully for Rainah and her school-going children, hope came in the nick of time – in the form of Jumble Station, a community outreach initiative founded by three women dedicated to helping single parents in need.
Mary Anne Tan, Sanice Yap and Lim Lian See had come up with the idea of opening a centre to sell items, donated by the public, at very cheap prices to raise funds for single parents, leveraging on the experience they had with jumble sales.
“We realised that in many cases, single mums in particular require cash to pay for their immediate needs like gas to cook and groceries, and to settle their electricity bills or house rent, as they have no source of income without their husbands,” said Tan.

For Rainah, Jumble Station, which opened in August last year, is a godsend. She now helps out at the centre located at Angsana Flats in USJ 1 and is paid a monthly allowance. Her children study at the nearby SJK (C) Chee Wen so she walks them to school.
Occasionally, Tan and Lim would give her bottles of hair conditioner donated by members of the public. Rainah is always delighted and extremely grateful for this, as she says the conditioner makes her hair very smooth.
“Single parents like Rainah fall below the radar, are scattered all over, and are rarely exposed to items like conditioners that may be ordinary to us but are a luxury to them.”

Lim stresses that Jumble Station is not a welfare organisation. She prefers to refer to Tan and herself as social entrepreneurs, whose aim is to help meet single parents' emergency needs.
“We'll help pay urgent bills and look after them for several months before linking them up with the relevant authorities, like churches or other organisations.
“Currently, we are supporting five or six single parents. We would first assess their situation and financial needs, by making house visits and talking to their neighbours, to ensure that our funds are extended only to genuine single parents,” said Lim, who is a single mother herself.
“But, more than just meeting their financial needs, our centre is also designed to give single parents items that they need, which they would otherwise have to buy.”
She added that Jumble Station was also about empowerment, so that single parents could be financially independent in the long term, either by owning or running small businesses.
Tan said one of the questions they were most often asked was why single parents did not look for jobs to earn an income.
The reason, she said, was that most of them had very young children who could not afford to let their mum out of their sight.
“The children have already lost their father, and they are sometimes too young to understand. So, if their mum is not around either, what do you think would happen?
“Also, there is the problem of logistics. The low-income families certainly cannot afford cars and some places are not accessible without your own transport. It is therefore not because they don't want to work but because of circumstances. This is something which people must understand,” she continued.
According to Tan, the centre accepts almost everything, but the items at the top of their list are electrical goods, a fridge, hi-fi player, microwave oven, ovens, cake mixers, sewing machines, computer CPUs, handphones, sofas, beds and mattresses.
A myriad of items, like clothes, bags, shoes, house decor items and even television sets can be found here, some neatly stacked on display shelves contributed by Hai-O.
“Sometimes single mums tell us that they would like to bake cakes or sew clothes to sell but currently, we do not have sewing machines or ovens to let them do so.
“So, it would really help if anyone could donate these items. I believe that everyone has something in their home which may not be of value to them but would be to others,” she added.
Tan said she would like to collaborate with companies whereby firms could have a collection day once every three months or six months and encourage their staff to bring any household items, and Jumble Station would come by to collect the items and sell them at the centre.

An interesting ongoing effort is the trade-up concept, which Tan explained was somewhat like barter trade but the items swapped would increase in value each time.
“It's something that no one has done before. We started off by posting online our RM5 toy train and anyone could join in this fun charity effort by trading off their unwanted stuff, just as long as the item is better or more expensive that the previous item.
“We are now at the stage of the watch item and it will continue until, hopefully, we achieve our objective - our swap for a van! We really need a van to ferry the single parents around and to collect items because we are so handicapped without one now,” said Tan.
Jumble Station is located at F1-01-05, Block F, Angsana Flats, Subang Mewah USJ 1. Its operation hours are from 11am to 9.30pm, Mondays to Saturdays, and from 3pm to 9.30pm on Sundays.
To help or to find out more, call Tan at 016-220 2958 or Lim at 012-387 1757, or visit

Friday, March 28, 2008

Media Moves

Well well... the media is gradually discovering JS and liking it enough to want to highlight it in their respective papers. New Straits Times was among the first to kick off this media train ride and then Klang Valley's most hip local Malay paper Kosmo called us up for an interview followed soon after by Subang Jaya's very own local community paper SJ Echo. Both Kosmo and SJ Echo interviews were held on the same day and the same time (since they ain't rivals) and it was nice sharing with them what JS was trying to achieve and what we really need. I'm still waiting for the pix that the Kosmo photographer promised to send to me ...

And then there was The Star! At last soneone from the People's Paper, my old alma paper (was there from 1983-1993) realised that JS is worth some printers ink enough to highlight us in the paper in a more indepth basis... well we did have one small article about Court 10 conducting a donation collection drive but that was to coincide with Lee Hwa Beng's visit to his potential voters. This time around Lim Chia Ying scoured the USJ1 area to find us and we were able to share quite a bit about how JS got its start, what we've done so far and where we aim to go next. What was nice was that the photgrapher was able to snap a pix of single mother Rainah just as she was ready to herd her three feisty boys to afternoon school. I grabbed the opportunity to snap off shots as the Star reporter and photographer were taking photos of them.. and now we just await the printed articles and we hope more people will know about JS and the needs of Single Parents and want to step up to provide items or like Josephine did.. help sponsor a single mother for six months until things get more settled past the grieving period or she obtains a more regular source of income ... Antz

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Trade Up 4 JS (Round 2 - concludes)

Trade Up 4 JS (Round 2)

Round two has just concluded and this time, Lucky the dog was traded up for a watch… and no ordinary watch either! This watch is from Sereena and it’s got the words “My problem is You” on it, making it a uniquely interesting and unusual watch indeed.

Now why you wonder would we settle for a watch? Well for one thing, a watch marks the time of the day, a watch tells us how many more hours we have left of each day. A watch is a timeless reminder of how little time we have left to leave our mark on this earth.

I’m reminded of Benjamin Franklin a man of many talents and interests, a printer by trade, a scientist by fame, and a man of action by all accounts (culled from the Internet), who once said and I quote, “Do you love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”

On that same note of not wasting time, American motivational author and speaker Dale Carnegie also said something that I personally like, “Today is life-the only life you are sure of. Make the most of today. Get interested in something. Shake yourself awake. Develop a hobby. Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you. Live today with gusto.”

Amen, let the winds of caring for the down trodden sweep through you and the community you live in and make Trade Up 4 JS your newest hobby because there’s a poor Single Parent out there that’s having a particularly bad ‘time’ right now and we need to reach out to this soul.

Round Three is now on…let’s see what will be traded up this ‘time’ around….

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Campus Cooperation

We had a chance recently to share about Jumble Station to some college students from the Sunway International School. The Deputy Principal Mrs A. Alagarani learnt about JS existence from a mutual friend, dripped by for a visit last month, liked what she saw and felt that the students in her school would benefit greatly from participating in what JS is doing. It seems these students have to put in some 10 hours of community work before they can get their Ontario Secondary School Diploma.

The key purpose is to get the youngsters out of the classrooms and into the real world and for these relatively 'happy' youngsters to be more aware of the 'unhappiness' of the poorer folks as well as to have them actively doing something that can make the neighbourhood they study in, a far better place. With Jumble Station and its little off shoot JS Jr at Desa Mentari Sunway, being literally at their doorstep, it makes a great deal of sense to partner with JS, not forgetting the fact that JS is still the newest kid on the block where charity outreach is concerned.

During the presentation by Mary Anne, the co-founder of JS, students were told of the many ways in which the school could lend a hand - from organising a thematic collection every month (a paper collection one month, an electrical items the next month and toys the following month etc), there could also be a voluntary teaching programme where the youngsters can take turns organising a reading and writing session once or twice a week for only an hour for the children of some 20 single parents at Desa Mentari. Alternatively, they could also be involved in promoting the JS Jr shop at Desa Mentari by sending out the flyers, going door to door to sell items from JS Jr or manning a table filled with toys and knick knacks on the ground floor to drive more customers to the JS Jr store on level 1.

Of greater interest would be the youngsters willingness to participate in the Trade Up 4 JS game where they can use their IT savviness to post items online or email pix of items being offered for trade to so that the game really starts to gather momentum. Considering this is a first for Malaysia, it should be an interesting experiment for the school to be a part of. Deputy Principal Rani says that the students will begin in earnest assisting us around April and supervisor Michael Hills will be there to make sure the campus cooperation arrangement goes smoothly... on our part, JS is really happy to welcome like minded and visionary partners like Sunway International School on board our train of help to the poor!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Converting books to Cash

Mary Anne and I went out to sell old books that were given by the faithful Js supporters. We had 2 begs filled with books. These books are collected by Js, sorted out into sections then we personally send it to the books seller at the flee market in Petaling Jaya. He is happy and so are we because it is a win, win situation.

* pictures taken by Jonathan Khoo

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Recycle initiative gets underway

Here's a copy of the letter of appeal that will be sent out to various companies to get their help to donate recycle items for JS... if you know of anyone who can participate, feel free to forward them this link or email me their contacts and I'll do the rest. The little we do today will mean so much to a Single Parent and children in need.

Jumble Station
F1-01-05, Angsana Flats
USJ1 Subang Jaya

Dear Sir/Madam,
Re: Recycle initiative

Jumble Station (JS) is initiating a recycle business specially for needy Single Parents which is located at Block F, Angsana Flats, Subang Mewah, USJ1 Subang Jaya, just a door away from the JS premises itself.

The recycle business will be managed by Single Parents themselves and is designed to empower them to be financially independent so that they don’t have to rely on handouts all the time. Establishing a recycle centre makes good business sense because it complements JS second hand goods business - items that are useless or those that cannot be repaired will go straight to the recycle centre..

To helm this fledgling start-up, we have Rainah Kinsang a single mother of four boys, aged 9,8 and 7 (twins). She became a single mother on January 29 2008 when her husband Jerry Rambayan from Sabah drowned while spear fishing at an abandoned development site at USJ1. Currently she has no job and therefore no income and is unable to pay anyone to care for her four children if she does seek employment. The recycle store will enable her to work close to home especially during the hours when her children are at school.
Chandra Babu is a single father of 9 children. His wife passed away in September last year and he has had to single handedly bring up the 7 boys on his own while two daughters are being cared for in Shelter Home. Babu is a lorry driver and his role will be to collect all recyclable items, send them to JS Recycle for sorting before selling them to the various parties that buy recycled items.

We seek your help in donating to Jumble Station any or all recycle items from your office/residential premises. They may include :
a) Papers – Photostat papers, newspapers, coloured papers
b) Cardboard boxes
c) Plastic materials
d) Metal – electrical items, cans, bars, rods etc
We would also appreciate if you could organize a Collection Day for Jumble Station where your staff and associates can bring in unwanted items from their homes which can be donated directly to needy Single Parents or sold at Jumble Station itself.

Call/sms Mary Anne Tan 016-2202958 or email: if you are agreeable to partnering us on this matter. Thank you for your understanding and support to this worthy cause.

Sincerely yours
Mary Anne Tan (016-2202958)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Lee Hwa Beng delivers!

Last month when Subang Jaya ADUN Datuk Lee Hwa Beng first mentioned during the Goodyear Court 10 collection day for Jumble Station on January 25th that he was going to give RM2,500 to Jumble Station for the Single Parents cause I thought it was mere 'politician' talk! Like most people I have a healthy skeptism about politicians grandstanding for the benefit of the media. I 'well wasn't really holding my breath' to see if Lee would keep to his word what with talk of election swirling around back then.

Lee obviously takes his pledges very seriously because not long after the event I received a call from his office, from a Carol asking for more details about JS and who should the account made out to. I told her to make it to Jumble Station and it will be put into the special account we have set up especially for Single Parents where every sen there will be utilised strictly for Single Parents in need.

Well just last Thursday I received a call asking me to collect the cheque from Datuk Lee's office and I did. That made me realise that Datuk Lee is someone who takes his pledges and promises very seriously and that he does truly have a compassionate heart...after all with the 12th General Election at feverish pace, one could forgive him for overlooking this very small matter but no, he did not dismiss this and today some Single Parents will benefit from this.

At least two of the most dire needs come to mind - Chandra Babu's 7 boys will get some, so will Rainah's 4 boys, Shanti who suffers from a bad back and can't do much work these days and a couple more poor Single Mums at Desa Mentari itself - all will be blessed by this 'gift' from this politician that cares enough to do his bit. Lee is now gunning for the MP's post and JS wishes him all the best in his political aspirations - society sure needs politicians with big hearts these days.