KLANG: Long after the VIPs have finished posing with the children and leaving the venue, the volunteers are left to tend to the loose ends, such as cleaning up, sending the kids back and giving each of them a warm hug.
Katijah Atan said people like her are often missed by the media but they get so much satisfaction from helping in charitable causes for disadvantaged children.
Met at a buka puasa do for 30 underprivileged children organised by Dairy Farms Giant Retail Sdn Bhd on Saturday, she said:
“Some people are crazy about shopping. It gives them tremendous satisfaction. I get mine from helping others.”
Katijah, 44, had helped to bring 11 children from the Bukit Lanchong housing scheme for the hardcore poor to the function at the Giant shopping centre.
Other volunteers brought children from the Good Samaritan Home.
The children were invited to shop for clothes and shoes, followed by a dinner as well as joyrides at a nearby funfair.
They were accompanied by Giant’s marketing manager, Jasmine Chua.
The volunteers made sure that each child received a bag of goodies and duit raya.
Often, they had to dig into their pockets to provide for some young ones who might have been unintentionally left out as recipients for the new clothes and goodies.
Katijah, a Singaporean who married a Malaysian, said she inherited her caring nature from her mother, an Indonesian who migrated to the island republic during the Second World War and stayed at a shanty colony with other migrants.
“She helped to look after the neighbours’ children apart from her own. There was always not enough food but I remember my mother would put whatever food she had in a big bowl and insist her children share with the brood she cared for.”
During her school days, Katijah joined friends to distribute used clothes to children in poor areas or help them to get medical attention.
Her helping nature continued into adulthood.
Even personal tragedies, including a divorce and the death of a baby while under the care of a baby sitter, did not make her bitter about life.
Katijah, a member of the Mercy group of volunteers, has since remarried and said she was thankful that she has an understanding husband who supports her volunteer work as well as five children who are willing to share their mother with others.
She said there are many children who need to be cared for and given tuition, many old folks who need medical aid and many handicapped people who yearn for support “but there are just not enough people who care.”