Hard time making ends meet

The House of Joy, in Puchong Petaling Jaya, was razed after fire gutted the two-storey building. The disaster left about 35 underprivileged children homeless and in tears.

PUCHONG: Lesley Mah constantly worries about finding money to run shelters for the underprivileged and the disabled under her care.

The administrative director of the House of Joy runs 13 homes and learning centres, depending solely on public donations as the main source of income.

"Each year, between April and August, the cash dries up," said the 47-year-old who, along with 14 other staff members, looks after more than 100 orphans, including the disabled and old folk.

"It is no easy task, especially when handling children with different personalities on a daily basis. But we continue to do it because of passion," she said.

Among the main problems is that the children, aged between five and 12, don't have enough space for themselves.

The Girls' Home, for example, has two bathrooms and four rooms for 21, with an average of five to six in a room.

"I hope to get a bigger room because the present one is overcrowded," said Wong Siok Nee, a 14-year-old homeschooler.

The organisation is also facing manpower shortages, as there is only one supervisor available for each home.

"There are times when I have use my own money to pay for expenses," said Lee Ching Mun, who founded the organisation with her husband in 1991.

"Some of the old folk have to go for dialysis every three days but there are not enough people to take them," she said, adding that they needed RM70,000 a month to run the homes.

The organisations' transport vans are in poor shape. To make matters worse, one of its shelters in Taman Tenaga, Puchong, was destroyed in a fire recently. The estimated cost of rebuilding it is RM2mil.

Lee Boon Tat, 13, one of the boys at the shelter, said he would be very happy to get a new shirt this Christmas.

"But more than anything, I wish our burnt house can be rebuilt as soon as possible."

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