“I and the one who takes care of an orphan will be like these two in the Garden.” – The Prophet, peace be upon him, indicating with his forefinger and middle finger. [Sahih Bukhari]
This post is a continuation of a previous post I’d written. Read it here.
In the last week of Ramadhan, I popped out of Singapore for a quick trip across the sea for a personal mission. It was something I had made a promise to do for a while now and the time was finally right to put it into action.
It wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Makchu & Cik Wati – they had the contacts. I knew they’d gone on similar trips so all I had to do was ask them to inform me the next time they were going so I could tag along.
The initial plan was to go after Ramadhan but the tides turned abruptly and hey ho, we managed to put together the trip within a week. You could say it was meant to happen because alhamdulillah, the entire journey was smoothsailing! We managed to pool together funds and donations, the weather was perfect and there weren’t any hiccups throughout. Sesungguhnya Allah mudahkan urusan kita. (:
Instead of giving the large amount of money as a lump sum to the children homes, we decided to use half of the funds we had to purchase cooking utensils and food. In their previous visit, Makchu and Cik Wati saw the dire condition of the kitchens and food supplies so we decided it was best to address their immediate needs. We also had some people who wanted to pay their fidyah so rice was an apt choice.
We were lucky to have a local driver who brought us to the local market areas to get the items – it helped us maximise the funds we had! Amanah orang ni!
We were luckier to have a van that could fit all the items! Besides cooking utensils, we bought sacks of rice and cartons of eggs – two very essential ingredients in any home – to distribute to the different children homes.
Once we got our hands on all that we needed, we went to find the different homes.
The intention was clear: we were going to the large(r) children’s home that my aunts visited the previous time AND visit the smaller ones along the way.
To be honest, I was more interested in the smaller, yet-to-be established ones because they get less publicity. Less publicity usually translates to lesser donations and help due to low awareness. I’ve participated in various volunteer projects prior to this and I know that once a place receives a significant level of publicity, be it from visiting individuals, schools, organisations and the likes, help will come streaming in. It can even be to the extent of blinding the eyes to other places that needs help just as much, or even more. In Batam itself, there are a handful of children’s homes that have gained much awareness, so much so that it seemed like they were the only ones on the island.
I did some research and found that there are at least 41 children’s homes in Batam.
Our driver drove us to a neighbourhood and within it, we found 5 homes. I was surprised to see them so clustered together, and in a non-affluent area at that.
We visited 4 homes in total, three being the smaller ones.
When I say small ones, I really mean that they blend in with the rest of the residential homes around them. It wasn’t possible to identify them as ‘panti asuhans’ if there were no signs indicating likewise!
These smaller homes usually take in about 30-50 children (both orphans and dhuafa) whereas the bigger homes tend to have at least 100.
Each home I went to had their individual appeals. In the first home, my heart was stolen by the children who were playing in the courtyard. Remember Yusuf? He was a child in this home.
I sat on the kerb, observing them quietly as they played. You know how sometimes, when you go on such trips, you go with a mentality of “I am here to help” and then subconsciously force your values and beliefs down the throats of others? You place yourself on an unworthy pedestal and stroke your ego for coming forth to help. I remember being that naive teenager years ago but alhamdulillah, time and experience have taught me to take a backseat and be open to learning lessons from them instead.
These children were content with playing with branches and leaves they’d plucked off a tree. They were barefoot, had no qualms with climbing up a makeshift ladder and were keen to share the little they had with me. Of course, then little Yusuf distracted me with his little beautiful soul, so all that remained of the others were a blur.
All too soon, we had to leave the home to move on to another. Till this day, Yusuf’s uncomprehending eyes still haunt me.
In the second home, we arrived while the head of the home was reading the Quran. He quickly placed the mushaf down and welcomed our unannounced arrival graciously. I immediately noticed the lack of, well, children. We were then told that most of the children had gone back to their relatives for the (then) upcoming Eid celebrations.
We didn’t stay long but did get to have a look at the kitchen. This was definitely one of the main reasons why we decided to purchase cooking utensils and food in the first place.
The third home we visited was Nujumul Huda. We’d found this home by accident. We were driving along and saw the sign by the road so we hopped off to search for it. It is located amongst other residential homes and truly, if not for the sign, you couldn’t have even possibly guessed there was a children’s home there.
Our surprise visit was greeted by Ibu Sinar and an ustadz (whose name I didn’t catch).
Ibu Sinar is one of the owners of Panti Asuhan Nujumal Huda. Together with her husband, one ustadz and several nannies (pengasuh), they run the small home.
I observed everything quietly from a corner as the aunts did the talking. Out of the 4 homes that we went to, this one grabbed my heart the most.
It was simple, well-organised and had a very good vibe to it. There were prayer garbs and paraphernalia in one corner, well-used Qurans on shelves and activity books neatly stacked.
Ibu Suria and the ustadz who’d greeted us had so much light radiating from them, I couldn’t help but feel good while in their presence. Humble, soft-spoken and so so warm, they were thankful for the little we gave and even said a prayer for us. I knew then that they were people of faith who are truly doing what they do as a calling.
Besides providing shelter for 51 students, they also have a preschool for the young ones and ensure that the older ones receive education from a nearby school. The fact that they had a school for the young ones and placed an empahsis on education made them even more endearing for me.
We were the first Singaporean donors to have ever paid a visit to their home & they are still looking for a consistent/permanent donor. To be honest, I am keen on developing a relationship with them, inshaAllah.
We didn’t get to stay long either since we were rushing for time. Our last stop was the home which my aunts had already established a relationship with.
It was a bigger home, with more children and staff.
Like I said, each of these homes have their individual appeals and each of them are in need of help. I am not saying that the well-established homes need to be sidelined and the smaller homes should be pushed forward; I am saying that help needs to be channelled in a more even manner.
So this is what is going to happen, inshaAllah:
My aunts, together with some of their friends, and I have decided to head to Batam on the 31st of August to celebrate Eid with these children. I am currently unsure of the arrangement or the numbers as I have yet to meet them BUT this is what I’d like to do first:
If you are interested in being a part of this project, please answer the following poll.
Once I am able to estimate the numbers coming from my side, I will be able to plan out the next course of action with my aunts. Henceforth, I will then be able to make the plan known and rope in all of you who are interested!
If you have any questions, do leave a comment or drop me an email!
I look forward to receiving your replies! 😀