Mums are amazing beings who live to love, protect, and care for their children and loved ones. Sometimes, their capacity for TLC is so abundant that they go out of their way to share it with others. In these cases, it’s hardly surprising that this kindness and generosity rub off on their offspring too. This Mother’s Day, we highlight four inspirational mums who, motivated by or in tandem with their children, are working to improve the lives of other people and the society at large.
Raising Parents Who Raise Kind Children
Last month, 14-year-old Zachary wrote to us, sharing that his mother, Louisa Ch’ng, has published a book titled Raising Parents. It is a collection of parenting stories she had gathered during all her mummy breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and drinks. He called it her “passion project”, saying that she published it at the end of last year, as she didn’t want 2020 to be remembered for Covid alone.
My mum and I have an extremely close and strong bond. She has always supported me in all my endeavours, encouraging my efforts, no matter the result. During a swimming meet in Darwin, 2019, I was disqualified from a race I had the chance to medal in. Instead of berating me, Mum told me that the strongest blade is forged in the hottest fire and I was not to give up. I went on to swim my best in the other races and managed to make her proud.Zachary Tan
At Zachary’s suggestion, they are donating partial proceeds from the book sales to Pencils of Promise (PoP). This non-profit organisation builds schools in developing countries like Laos, Ghana, and Guatemala. For his 10th birthday, he built a website to raise awareness, asking friends to donate in lieu of buying gifts. He and his brother also organised a fundraising concert at the Arts House in 2019. To date, they have raised US$17.8k for PoP, and hope that the sales of the book will add handsomely to that tally.
Hear from mothers (and dads) who have scaled academic heights and corporate ladders only to cower at coaxing babies to sleep and teaching an eight-year-old Singapore Maths. They share real-life perspectives from Singapore to the Silicon Valley, from Malaysian Peranakan roots to British boarding schools. From Louisa: “I hope that these stories will make readers feel less alone in their parenting pursuit of excellence. I hope that they will laugh along with our foibles, identify with our angst, and feel the bond of the hopes we as parents have for our children.” Raising Parents is currently available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
P.S. We think that Zachary is awesome and hope you’ll join us in supporting his cause. And kudos to mummy Louisa on what is obviously an excellent parenting job too!
Mama Creature Sounds out Little Creatures
For young artist-mother, Natalie, parenting has been a series of life lessons. Learning when to take charge and when to let the child lead. Learning to discern between what matters and being mindful about what doesn’t. She also discovered that the learning journey changes with each child. Natalie describes firstborn Dodo as free-spirited, creative, and active, while number two Rhea is sassy, independent, and strong.
As an arts practitioner who educates, researches, and performs, I struggle a lot to balance how I imagined I would be with my children with what I actually do with them. At the end of the day, motherhood is a rite of passage for women to understand what giving life means.Natalie Alexandra Tse
Natalie is the co-founder and director of SAtheCollective, a not-for-profit cross-disciplinary, cross-ethnic arts organisation with roots in traditional Chinese music. When her little ones came along, they inspired her to create work that was specifically targeted at babies. “Exploration and experiences are as crucial to my artistic process as they are in my children’s day-to-day lives. We play together, sing together, jam together, grow together.” Today, she advocates for the nurturing of positive parent-child relationships through sound and music.
In her doctoral studies, Natalie involved Dodo in creating a performance of sound for babies and their families. The result was a multi-modal experiential concert where participants “heard” using their eyes and through moving their bodies rhythmically. This birthed LittleCr3atures, an initiative that offers younglings opportunities for free play through sound, sonic objects, and environments. It is an open invitation for parents and tots up to 36 months to bond through pure, unadulterated play with sound in a safe and immersive space. Follow LittleCr3atures on Instagram for their latest updates, and contribute to its work via SG Giving.
Tackling Food Insecurity and Food Wastage
A mum who wakes up at 5.45am daily to pack lunchboxes for her kids, Nichol has learnt to be creative with leftovers, from the previous night’s dinner to odds and ends of ‘ugly’ vegetables that can go into omelettes. She believes that today’s kids already know much more about climate change and sustainability than adults do. So as a parent, her job is walk the talk and by her actions, inspire her children to become purposeful citizens of the world.
My grandmother used to tell me that it was a greater blessing to be able to give than to receive. And my mum would take my brother and I to volunteer at elderly homes when we were in primary school. I’ve since adopted their philosophies to my own parenting style — it’s important that my children ask what they can do for others, even at a young age.Nichol Ng
Together with her brother, Nicholas, Nichol established The Food Bank Singapore when her eldest child was born in 2012. Their intention is to combat food wastage, and more importantly, end hunger in Singapore by 2025. “I am heartened that my children have picked up on this and began spreading the seeds even since kindergarten. They are often the inspiration behind our campaigns, such as the Drive Hunger Away food drive in October 2020. Many drivers, with families in tow, simply popped their boots and delivered food donations. It was fun and meaningful while being safe, given the Covid situation!”
The Food Bank Singapore
Besides collecting and redistributing food donations to needy beneficiaries, The Food Bank Singapore also works to inspire the next generation. They give talks and tours at schools, even to preschoolers as young as three years old! They also have over 2000 children in its Juniors Club, where 5- to 12-year-olds can volunteer as Junior Foodbankers. Learn more about eradicating hunger with The Food Bank Singapore.
(See also: 10 Places to Volunteer with Kids in Singapore)
Bottling Family Traditions
In January 2020, 28-year-old Jinyen was helping her mum, Mrs Yap Joo Eng, to make Fuzhou red rice wine ahead of Chinese New Year. It’s a tedious process they go through every year, and they wondered if future generations would continue this time-consuming tradition. This thought was precisely what roused the mother-daughter pair to embark on creating a new legacy of old recipes.
Together, they created a platform that recreates and preserves foods that are disappearing from modern existence. One year on, they have even partnered with five seniors to showcase recipes across three dialect groups — Hockchew, Hokkien, and Teochew. These include Auntie Lian’s Red Wine Chinese Sausage, Uncle Yi’s Fuzhou Dumplings, and Auntie Eng’s Bentong Ginger Longan Red Dates Tea. Apart from free marketing, packaging, and distribution services, these seniors receive a share of the profits. They look forward to more seniors coming on board to share their precious traditional recipes.
By reaching out to seniors, we can continue their legacy of creating heritage food for future generations. Many customers buy them for their grandparents who are no longer able to make these dishes themselves. One even said his grandfather cried after tasting Ye Traditions Red Rice Wine because its authenticity reminded him of his late mother.Mrs Yap Joo Eng
On top of offering seniors the space to preserve traditions and connect with other like-minded folks, Ye Traditions also has a dollar-for-dollar giveback programme, where partners bless seniors at retirement homes with nourishing heritage dishes for every purchase made. For instance, in October 2020, residents at Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home, including Singapore’s oldest Covid-19 survivor, Mdm Yap Lay Hong, enjoyed Red Rice Wine Chicken Soup one of the partners cooked. Support our seniors and our heritage by ordering from Ye Traditions via Instagram, Facebook, and Shopee.
(See also: 13 Meaningful Questions to Ask Your Grandparents)