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Thu, Jun 05, 2014
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Mums help mums online
by Benita Aw Yeong

While most expectant mothers go on buying sprees for their coming bundle of joy, all Madam Candy Lim could think of was how to find enough money for the essentials such as clothes and a pram.

Says the 41-year-old housewife: "Money was tight during that period of time, and purchasing the bevy of items required by a newborn would stretch finances at home."

Her fourth child, now 11 months old, was a surprise. Her eldest is 22. Madam Lim came across the Facebook group "Sincere Blessing for babies and mummies" on the Internet sometime last year. The group, which began in 2011, aims to redistribute used and new baby essentials in good condition to needy mothers and families.

Madam Lim approached the administrators, hoping to gather some baby items to tide her through her baby's first months.

Within weeks, donations of baby necessities came pouring in, says Madam Lim.

The group is brainchild of Madam Yvonne Chng, 24, who works in administration. She was inspired to start the platform after realising how many usable baby items she was throwing away.

"I wanted to donate them and put a smile on the face of those who need them, even if they are strangers to me," explains Madam Chng, who has two children aged three and one.

The group began with under 100 people. The number has now grown to 4,264. About half of them are mothers who have items to spare.

So far, more than a thousand items have been donated.

Their first beneficiary was a mother who was about 20 years old. Her husband was still serving national service.

"The couple didn't have help from their parents to buy baby stuff, and the father of the baby wasn't earning much, so they came to us," Madam Chng says.

Needy mothers are not allowed to post a request for a particular item. Instead, they have to write to administrators, who will then post it on their behalf.

Madam Chng says this allows more control rather than the group "descending into a chaotic situation resembling a noisy marketplace".

Items required, along with the name of the needy mother are organised into a wish list and posted on the Facebook group where givers can browse and donate.

The team goes to great lengths to "screen" potential members before they are allowed in.

They also ensure that the items donated go to those who really need it, instead of those greedy for freebies.

"We manually check out the Facebook profile of potential members, looking out for pictures or status updates of their children," she says.

But she acknowledges that there is no fool-proof way to ensure what she sees is credible.

Madam Chng is frequently logged on to the page via her mobile phone, and spends between four and five hours on it daily.

The satisfaction she gets from helping others is what keeps her going.

"It's a great feeling to be able to help others who require the baby items more than I do, and seeing them receiving what they need Makes me happy," she says.

This article was first published on June 1, 2014.
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