Friday, April 24, 2009

Say hello to Urban Station

Urban Station, a collaboration between DUMC’s Urban KL Fellowship catering to the homeless, the street people and Jumble Station, focused on Single Parents in need, made its debut on April 22 2009.

Urban Fellowship of Street Ministry as all of us know it has been around for quite some time and is located at the 1st floor of the old Klang Bus Station. Back in its heyday the bus station was a hive of activity with many buses heading out from KL to the rest of the other states. Today however it acts as a feeder terminal for the Klang and KL centric buses.

JS was approached to assist urban Fellowship set up a thrift shop in the heart of KL specifically to help create job opportunities for its many street folks, most of whom find it tough to get anyone to give them a job. Since Jumble Station believes in partnering others to assist the needy plus it makes it easier for others to reach us in KL instead of in Subang Jaya, the collaboration made a lot of sense to both partie

Urban Station was born from this need to recycle items, re-energise humans and rebuild lives. In line with that we began employing a young homeless couple to assist us in the shop but the weekend before the launch, they scooted off, never to be seen again.

Ah well, some people blow the opportunities given to them, others make good use of them. Now we have a more matured woman and a street savvy yet very teachable guy willing to assist us in making Urban Station a success.
So folks, if you are around the KL bus station area, do drop by with your friends and buy an item or two to help the needy. Proceeds after overheads will go towards the needs of the street folks and single parents who are poor so every helping hand in making Urban Station a success will be mightily appreciated.

Just for the launch we had DUMC senior pastor Daniel Ho, CES director Pastor Margaret Loy and Jumble Station co-founder Lim Lian See cutting the ballooned ribbon while our JS dancers performed a short country line dance to the beat of Achky Breaky heart song and I must say we were a refreshing change, adding both colour and youthful zest to this once very quiet place.

A big thanks to all our fiesty boot stompers from Adrian, Lian See, Joyce Leong, Mae Ane, Noni, Meksue, Eng Yao and DJ Pingngan. Let’s put our special caring stomp on KL and its environs via Urban Station itself!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Teaching Single Parents to fish

Some people deplore the idea of assisting those in need by giving out purely cash or groceries. For Jumble Station, we believe in meeting emergency needs via cash or in kind (giving donated items to single parents free of charge) first so that physical needs are met uppermost, after which, we will look at a more long term solution to their current predicament.

So yes, giving them fish to eat is important but teaching them to fish is a more sensible and more sustainable way to ease them of their financial woes. However teaching single parents in need to fish is a pretty daunting task not least because the desire to learn to “fish” has to come from them first.

One key thing is that one must first try to ‘lure’ them into the benefits learning to fish and it’s tough because first off many of the poor single parents are less skilled, poorly educated and lack self-confidence or are still psychologically too traumatised to try something new.

There are of course some exceptions and two of them come to mind. The first is single mother Rusnani who has 6 children to care for and whose spouse, a drug addict, abandoned her while she was expecting her last child. Nani possesses an enviable skill – she can cook and her signature dish – ayam berempah and nasi kukus (spicy fried chicken and steamed rice) is deliciously mouth-watering!

Nani came to Jumble Station’s attention when a friend who had promised to loan her the down-payment for a van that she needed to ferry her cooking utensils and ingredients, was nowhere to be found. All she needed was just RM3,000 to get a van that would help her to kick-start her food business at Damansara Heights, KL.

Recognising her desire to work and feed her children Jumble Station gave her the money needed to get a second hand van and she has since garnered quite a loyal following of customers who were willing to stand in line to await their ‘packed aromatic lunch”.

The snag is that she does not posses a licence and was constantly facing harassment from DBKL officers who would cart off her cooking gas tank, her cooking implements and chicken and impose a hefty RM300 fine each time she wanted her items back.

We stepped in to assist again by writing an appeal letter to DBKL seeking their help in getting her a licence but to no avail. Fortunately, she managed to secure a spot near the mosque premises where she is now able to conduct her daily business unhindered while her customers are delighted to know that their supply of ayam berempah remains uninterrupted. For Jumble Station it is enough to know that she is now capable of shouldering the burden of caring for her children independently and her desire now is to be able to hire some workers to help her in this business whilst expanding her reach to other places as well.

For single mother Panjalai, who earns only RM600 as a kindergarten helper and has only RM200 to survive on after deducting rental each month, learning to ‘fish’ is something she is just beginning to grasp. Jumble Station assisted her by securing her a small space in a shoplot at Angsana Flats for RM100 rental where she can now sell some items to the local residents there.
This little shop now sells detergents – powdered and liquid – formula from the well recognised name Kleenso.

Kleenso’s founder Mr Lee Teck Meng was kind enough to participate in this ‘teaching to fish’ exercise by supplying Panjalai’s shop with several of his branded products including bleach, softener, floor, glass and bathroom cleaners, car polish etc. There were also liquid detergent refills where one could bring one’s old plastic containers and buy the refill for a much cheaper price. Panjalai would earn some 30sen to 50sen per bottle sold while Jumble Station chipped in by passing to her some children’s toys, both big and small, to enable her to draw in the mothers and children to her shop.

It’s been only a month or so since this fishing experiment got started but so far, the indications are that both Nani and Panjalai are excited and pleased with their little ‘ventures’ and are gaining greater self confidence as the days go by. For Nani it is a move that is paying off well because she is now able to return RM200 a month to Jumble Station while Panjalai finds her retail venture very encouraging – she is able to pay off her RM100 rental for this month and have a little left over for her two teenage children.

Jumble Station hopes to get some flyers printed for them and that should help get more people to know about their products and to actually buy their products so that they can live more financially independent lives. So if you have a party planned and need great food – don’t miss Nani’s mouthwatering ayam berempah and if you need dishwashing liquid detergent to clean up after that, just swing by Panjalai’s shop to get some.

Admittedly both do not need ‘charity’ but they can go far with your strong, unstinting support. At Jumble Station we’re truly hoping that these two early successes will visibly inspire many more single parents to do likewise and thereby free themselves from the shackles of poverty. We really do want them to know that a hand-up is far better than a hand-out long term!

Jumble Station has a singular vision to assist single parents in need. If you have toys, clothes, electrical or electronic items, collectibles, furniture, books etc, do drop them at F1-01-05 Angsana Flats, USJ1 Subang Mewah, Subang Jaya, Selangor or call 016-2202958 for collection of bulky items.