A heart for social work

Yap, who founded Rumah Caring, is about to enjoy tea time with residents of the home.

Yap, who founded Rumah Caring, is about to enjoy tea time with residents of the home.

WENDY Yap’s ex-employer was willing to give her 49% shares of his timber factory to keep an honest and efficient manager like her, on the fifth time she tendered her resignation.

Still, the lucrative offer failed to waver Yap’s will to become a full-time social worker.

It has been 26 years since the life-changing decision.


Not only her life was changed, but those of many others whom she helped.

From generously giving donations and raising funds for charities in the beginning, Yap went on to found Rumah Caring welfare association that helps old folk, mentally-challenged adults, single and unwed mothers, and drug addicts.

Dedicating oneself to social work does not mean only stripping off luxuries and career prospects, but also facing the harshest challenges of life.

Every day, Yap deals with the sick, old, poor, dying and suffering – caring for them and exhausting various means to help improve their conditions.

“Honestly, I cried a lot when I began what I’d call the blessed road of social work, because I could not bear watching the sufferings.

“I lost sleep too and on those nights I would drive myself to the Kajang Hospital carpark – where there was security – to cry my heart out,” she recalled.

Although caring for the needy makes her happy as she is following her late mother’s footsteps to be helpful, there was a time in 2002 when she felt too drained out to carry on.

She wondered about the lost opportunities, including her childhood dream of becoming a businesswoman.

Then came “a mosquito to show the way”.

Three of her four children contracted dengue on the same day, and it dawned on her that no material gains could ever replace her children and she should continue aiding the needy as per the teachings of her faith.

Over the years, Yap has helped 200 single mothers through their hardships with donations and empowerment. She finds jobs for them and most importantly, ensures that their children receive a good education.

Yap helping visually impaired Chong Yee Cheong, 55, in the home.
Yap helping visually impaired Chong Yee Cheong, 55, in the home. — SAMUEL ONG/The Star

She believes the children should grow up under their mother’s care, not in orphanages.

The old folk’s home takes care of 48 now. They were rescued from the streets or refer-red by hospitals, the Welfare Department and non-governmental organisations. Most of them were sent to the home in a poor condition but they have all since become cheerful seniors.

Its drug wing has treated 4,000 addicts but sadly only 25% cared to stay through the 18- month rehabilitation. It hurts Yap that only 20 of the drug addicts have stayed clean after 10 years but this is a relatively high success rate.

The brain damage caused by designer drugs makes it even harder to treat addicts.

Yap and her team also often send food supply to orang asli villages and victims of natural disasters.

“It is a job that anybody can do, but everybody shuns it,” she said, adding that her faith, family and societal support were the source of her strength.

Yap treats the needy as her family, often asking herself when she sees someone in distress: “What if she is my parent or child or sister, what can I do to help?”

While those who know her are bowled over by her great heart, she thinks she is the one being loved.

She grins ear-to-ear seeing children she has helped live their dreams, yet often asking “Aunty Wendy” – some even want to call her mother – if Rumah Caring needs any help.

Yap likens these children to seeds that have grown into flowers, who show her the miracles of life.

If there is anything she wants in return, it will be for these flowers to be like dandelions, so that they will help spread the seeds of love far and wide.