Couple barely coping with dwindling donations and increasing costs

Cheerful and discipline: The happy lot at Lighthouse Children Welfare Home. SAMUEL ONG / THE STAR, 31ST MAY 2014.

IT HAS been a challenging year for the caretakers of Lighthouse Children Welfare Home, who are grappling with dwindling donations and increasing operational costs.

Having moved out from its previous rent-free bungalow in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur last year, the home has to fork out an extra RM6,700 every month for the rental of their current location in the vicinity. It is where 48 children aged between one and 19 years call home.

Lighthouse, set up in 2005, needs RM45,000 for monthly expenses.

Funding is always the biggest issue for husband-and-wife team Steven Silvaraju, 61, and Jacinta Steven, 58. In fact, Steven’s income as a schoolbus driver is used to support the home.

They rely solely on public donations, and support has been slow since the start of this year.

But with the caretakers putting their heart and soul into running the home, outsiders can hardly tell that it is plagued by financial woes.

Despite the high number of children, some of whom are in their most boisterous years, the home is spick and span.

Books, stationery and everything else are neatly organised and among them stand a row of trophies won by the children.

It amazes most people how Steven and Jacinta have managed to keep the children so disciplined and cheerful.

“It is not difficult, as long as we have enough funds to cover the month’s expenditure,” said Jacinta, who beamed when she related how some of the children would take the initiative to give her a massage whenever she was exhausted.

“Also, just look at our faces, do you think they dare to be naughty?” she asked with a laugh.

The seed for the couple’s lifelong dedication to caring for these underprivileged children was planted when they took in abused children referred to them by their church. Steven believes this is a calling.

Their original premises was converted from an vacant bungalow covered with undergrowth. A total of 25 mothers from Alice Smith School and their maids pitched in to clean up the place.

A normal day at the home starts at 5am with Jacinta and some helpers preparing breakfast while Steven wakes all the children.

They make sure every child is prepared with the necessary items for school, such as lunch and pocket money.

After school, it is homework time under the watchful eyes of the caretakers. Dinner is at 6pm and by 9pm, the children are ready for bed.

Every child came to the home with some baggage, especially the sexually abused girls, and this worries Steven and Jacinta.

In addition to instilling positive values and boosting their confidence, they are trying to engage psychologists to better help the children.

“We do not run the home like an institution, but a family,” Steven said.

Jacinta also shared how the children had once moved her to tears.

“On our wedding anniversary, they woke up early to surprise us with breakfast they made for us, and stood quietly by the table to make sure we savoured every bit of it!” she said.

To help the home, Strategic Public Relations Sdn Bhd is organising a bake-and-jumble sale today from 11am to 2pm and then from 5pm to 9pm at UBN Tower, Jalan P. Ramlee, Kuala Lumpur.

It is open to the public. For details, call Arvin at 017-371 7045.

The company’s general manager, Stefanie Braukmann, said dedication shown by the caretakers had moved her and made her want to do something to help them.

For enquiries about Lighthouse Children Welfare Home, call 03-2093 2504.

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Family & Community , welfare , children , home


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