LOSING a husband in an accident after a year of marriage was painful. But worse was to come as R. Ritanamala was then abandoned by her family.
To make ends meet, the then 29-year-old worked as a helper at a senior citizen’s home for 17 years in Klang.
Her experience made her even more determined to help those disowned by their families.
“There is a single mother in our home here who was kicked out by her husband. He hit and chased her out of the house and disowned their three children, who now live with us in our home,” said Rita, 58.
She started the Rita Welfare Association Home in 1997. It is located on 10th mile, Jalan Kapar, Klang.
The home has a total of 123 residents — 85 children and 38 senior citizens comprising orphans as well as physically and mentally disabled individuals.
Many are referred by the Welfare Department, hospitals, courts and friends.
“We try to provide a better quality of life to the disabled and special people, whether it is a child or an adult. It is sad that most of the residents do not have any relatives or parents visiting them.
“I feel for them as I was also abandoned by my family. We cater to children from as young as two years old and even single mothers and old folk.
“We send the children to various schools but some cannot go because they do not have birth certificates.
“So, for these children and adults, we provide skills training in areas such as tailoring, printing and dog breeding,” said Rita, who is ably assisted by Klang Samaritans, Selangor president and advisor to the home, P. Maheswaren.
Maheswaren started helping the home in 2008 where his first task was to improve the residents’ living standards.
He helped get the home certified as an ISO 9001:2008 organisation. This is an international quality management system and the home is also in the Malaysia Book of Records as the first to receive the ISO certification.
“I wanted all the children at the home to go to government schools.
“At the same time, we ensured that for others, their skills in fields such as sewing, car-washing, making of soy bean drinks, landscaping and printing T-shirts were developed.”
Over 50 children attend kindergarten, primary and secondary schools. Special children go to special schools. The children’s education needs are supported by a fund initiated by some well-wishers.
“Only through education can children break the cycle of poverty and insecurity. The money is used to help the children pursue academic excellence,” said Maheswaren.
The home has engaged tutors, acquired computers and set up a library.
Maheswaren has introduced a non-profit Food Trust Programme, whereby contributions are solicited to feed all residents four meals a day, which costs RM500.
Donors choose a date in a year and commit to it for the coming years.
“You can also choose a special date (either birthday or wedding anniversary) and come and celebrate the occasion with the residents,” he said.
The home has received tax exempt status for donations. Its financial activities are computerised and it also has internal and external auditors. It costs about RM120,000 a year to run the home.
Maheswaren said they bought a neighbouring plot of land using funds raised from a charity dinner to cater to the number of residents that had increased.
They plan to build a new three-storey building which will have a public physiotherapy centre, tailoring unit and additional amenities for education, therapy, counselling as well as packing and storage area.
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