Self-professed 'karang-guni' (garbage collector) Yvonne Sim is a discreet lady with a heart of gold. As the Singapore contact for the Love the Children Foundation based in the Philippines, she has for many years sponsored the delivery of boxes of toys, books and computer parts collected from various charity drives in Singapore to the foundation. Evolve Asia catches up with a lady who has found a useful and simple way to be of service to many.
1, How did you come to hear about Love The Children and what is the story behind what is now your three-year affair with them?
My journey with Love The Children Foundation ( LTCF ) began in Jan 2011. I have always been keen to explore a Social Enterprise model with a developing country to promote their home-grown resources for a sustainable livelihood project, as well as to work closely with an orphanage, for personal reasons. So when I was given the contact details for LTCF by a missionary friend, I quickly booked my flight and wasted no time in jumping onto a plane and flying off to Davao to meet Cindy and Tony Chua, the founders of LTCF.
That meeting had a profound impact on me. I met two people with such big hearts, that they would give up their time, careers, and emptied all that they had, based on a conviction that they were called to house and to care for abandoned children who had no one to take care of them. I saw that commitment and passion in all the staff of LTCF who treated the children with dignity, respect, and loved them as their own. The children were happy, secure, and had a home to call their own.
I left Davao with some soul-searching to do.
That same year, my family visited LTCF during our year-end vacations. Before our trip, I asked Cindy for wish-lists of the children at LTCF so that we could bring them over for Christmas. The wish-lists were modest, but the response from the people I sent out requests to were overwhelming. The donations filled up almost 10 jumbo boxes ( the size of a washing machine ) for shipment. This was the beginning of the “karang-guni” collection I now do on a regular basis. The boxes can be filled up to the brim and are charged a nominal rate per box. I learnt that this is the usual mode for domestic helpers to send stuff back to the Philippines and am thankful that such a service is available.
2. What kind of contributions do you make to LTCF on a regular basis?
My husband and I make a monthly contribution to LTCF to support their operating costs. Last year, we celebrated our 25th anniversary with Cindy and Tony as our special guests. A special offering was taken at our anniversary party for LTCF, for its livelihood programme. Our friends gave very generously.
3. How often do you visit LTCF?
About once or twice a year. I get monthly updates and statement of accounts .
4. What kind of obstacles and challenges have you faced in this journey?
The realisation that donors suffer from donor fatigue. Many charities run into difficulties when funding is uncertain, and they are therefore unable to plan, budget, and manage their operations efficiently. That is the reason why we decided to make a long term commitment to LTCF. Also, the “karang-guni” concept has taken off well, since people are more willing and ready to give away their pre-loved items than to make monetary contributions. In this way, I get a constant stream of donations ( from friends and through word-of-mouth ) and have no qualms about being thick-skinned in asking. The value-added of such items is beyond what we imagine. Our excesses become other people’s treasures.
5. What are the rewards of this association?
That in our own small way, we can make a big difference, like ripples in the ocean.
6. What are your current projects in relation to them/others?
Continuing with what I’ve been doing and being open to opportunities which can help LTCF expand and grow.
7. What are your future plans in relation to them/others?
I have big dreams for LTCF, to become a resource and outreach centre for their community. They are premature at the moment, but I’m working on it.