HAVING been a single mother herself, Noelle Nah understands the hardships that single mothers go through.
While she is now happily remarried and expecting a child, she remembers the dark days as a single mother.
“I was always depressed and needed a shoulder to cry on.
“Those days have passed but I know of many around me who want to get out of the situation but do not have the means,” she said.
Because Nah understood that single mothers need some assistance and most importantly a helping hand, she set up the Mermaid Market – a place for single mothers to find friends and seek job opportunities.
“They can buy a dress at a cheap price but we don’t want it to be like a pasar malam.
“It is a good platform not only for single mothers, but volunteers and people from all walks of life to gather,” she said.
Items at the Mermaid Market are donated by the public and companies.
Sales proceeds are channelled to the Malaysian Community Service Alliance Foundation, which then donates the money to charity organisations.
This is not Nah’s first charity endeavour. She earlier organised Dance for Love, a one-day dance camp for children.
As a former dancer, this came naturally to her.
Nah is also the managing director of Mega Movement Sdn Bhd, a performing arts school.
“Dancing is one way to bring happiness. It doesn’t matter if you know how to dance, because once you hear music, you will start to move.
“These days, there is not much human interaction as people are occupied with television and smartphones. But with dance, children can mix with each other and volunteers.
The camp is open to all, not just underprivileged children.
“We don’t separate the children into groups because we don’t want to label them,” Nah said.
Through her charity work and interaction with the children, she noticed that the children from the homes were often suppressed.
“They are taught to interact in a certain way. But when they are at the event, away from the watchful eyes of caretakers, they behave differently.
“We were surprised by their change of attitude and realised how important it was for these children to have a chance to express themselves freely,” she said.
She also takes the children out on excursions on some weekends.
“I talk to them about how to improve themselves.
“Unfortunately, I am unable to do it often because of time and manpower constraints,” she said.
The camp is not only beneficial to children, it is also a chance for volunteers to learn how to interact with and care for children.
“Volunteers told me that they experience a change themselves. Being around kids, they feel that they need to be a good role model.
“As a result, some have quit smoking, watch what they say and avoid swearing in their daily lives,” she said.
Nah believes that it is actually more important to help children from these homes to blend into society instead of categorising them as underprivileged.
“While the intention is good and donations can help charity homes with their expenses, it is more important for the public to spend time to educate the children and offer them educational courses.
“Many orphanage caretakers have told me that it is quite tiring to entertain visitors who visit or bring donation items every weekend.
“Sometimes they receive more than they actually need.
“So, they sell the items that they have an oversupply of to raise funds instead of letting things go to waste,” she said.
She hopes to organise another Dance for Love event next month.
“I’m touched by the help we have received. Some say it is difficult to carry out charity programmes but as long as you set your heart and mind on it, people will come forth and offer their help,” she said.