Food campaign helps low-income families with special-needs kids
The Takeout Campaign provides food twice a week to low-income families
With two children diagnosed with autism and another child with learning difficulties, this mother of three has her hands full.
The housewife, who wanted to be known only as Madam Ismaliz, 41, had her burden eased when she was introduced to The Takeout Campaign in November last year.
Spearheaded by non-profit organisation My Inspiring Journey (MIJ) Hub, the initiative provides meals twice a week for lower-income families who have a child with special needs.
MIJ Hub also offers educational services and programmes daily for those with special needs aged four to 30.
Madam Faraliza Zainal, 50, director of MIJ Hub, kick-started the campaign last October after learning some families could afford only one meal a day.
Parents would also be struggling to take care of their children, many of whom are diagnosed with autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
"The kids that attend MIJ Hub - their families would have only enough for sardines and instant noodles. Other times, it would be rice, eggs and soya sauce," she told The New Paper.
Madam Ismaliz, whose family is one of 30 that receives food from the campaign, said: "This lessens our financial strain because buying and cooking food for five people is not cheap."
Her husband, a chef, is the sole breadwinner. Their elder sons, Ilham, 17, and Tasnim, 11, are autistic. Hasif, nine, has learning difficulties.
Madam Ismaliz has to pay constant attention to her children as meltdowns and tantrums are common occurrences in the home.
"It is hard for me to spend time cooking in the kitchen. Sometimes, we resort to instant food that (I can) microwave," she said.
Her children love having food delivered to their flat in Jurong East as it makes them feel special.
"The food is healthy, tastes good, and my boys are always excited to eat something that isn't home-cooked."
Madam Faraliza, who also has a son with autism, said the employees at MIJ Hub - many of whom have special needs - prepare more than 50 meals a day and have extended help to families outside the MIJ Hub community.
"They are tasked with preparing and packing the food, which empowers them and ensures they have continued employment with us.
"Just because they have special needs doesn't mean they can't make an impact on society," said Madam Faraliza.
The Takeout Campaign has since raised more than $120,000 on Give.asia.
Potential donors can pledge $40 to provide a meal to a family of five.
"It was truly an eye-opener for all of us when we delivered (the food) to the families. It is rewarding to see the smiles on the children's faces and the gratitude from the parents," said Madam Faraliza.