WHEN Malar Mathews (pix) got married, she did not count on having more than a few children. But fate would deal her a different card.
Thrust into the role of manager at an orphanage, she now plays mother to 55 young children, all eager for her attention.
“In 2003, my mother-in-law, the Reverend Dr Mary Rayappan set up the home for four abandoned children,” she told theSun.
The orphanage, named Pertubuhan Kebajikan Anak Yatim Mary after the founder, is located in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur.
But Mary’s untimely passing a few years later left the orphanage without a strong and capable person to manage it.
It was then the family decided that Malar, who had been helping Mary from the start, would take on the task.
Reluctantly, she took on the challenge thinking it would only be for a few years. But several years on, and with the number of children having swelled to 55, she continues to hold the orphanage together.
It is obvious the children are very attached to her as all of them, boys and girls alike, call her “Mummy”. The youngest is a 10-month-old infant and the oldest a 19-year-old college student.
As expected, the going has not been easy. The home depends entirely on charity to operate.
“It costs us RM28,000 a month just to keep a roof over the children’s heads and to put food on the table. Then, there are other extras like utilities and essentials for school,” she said. Unfortunately, help has been dwindling.
“We’re lucky to get RM12,000 a month from public funding now,” she said.
The home was already behind in rental payments and utility bills before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Attempts to get help from the Welfare Department and Kuala Lumpur City Hall proved equally challenging.
Malar said DBKL was still “processing the paperwork” while it has been years since she applied for assistance from the Welfare Department, but nothing has come of it.
“We’re always short on wet and dry food. What we need most urgently now are rice, baby formula, cooking oil, curry powder, sugar, biscuits, vegetables and poultry,” she said.
“We have enough funds to probably last until the end of the year only,” she added.
A recycling plant that was set up 17 years ago used to make about RM6,000 a month to supplement the income, but with the Covid-19 pandemic, that project also had to be abandoned.
Even her three employees, whom she calls her “Good Samaritans”, have stopped taking salaries.
Despite the gloomy outlook, the home is filled with love, warmth and pride of the children’s achievements. Trophies, medals and plaques are on display in the living area and certificates of achievement adorn the walls.
Despite the many years she has spent with so many children, Malar still finds it a challenge understanding each and every child’s character.
“But with patience and persistence, I get to know them a little more every day,” she said. Malar also credits her personal development to the children.
“Without them, I would not be here today. They are my pride and joy,” she said.
Anyone who wishes to know more about the orphanage, or to offer help can contact Malar at 016 623 9235 or 019 3482 448.