Ahead of International Women’s Day 2020 on 8 March, we bring you 8 inspiring profiles of everyday women with extraordinary stories; be it braving adversity with inimitable strength, tirelessly giving back, or pursuing their passions. This International Women’s Day, The DC Edit celebrates the spirit, grace and beauty of women who prove that nothing can, or should hold us back from greatness.  

1. Zarina Binti Jaffar, Founder Of The Sustainable Charity Facebook Group: 3R Recycle, Sharing Is Caring

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For this article, we had the opportunity to catch up with Zarina on her personal journey in starting ‘3R Recycle, Sharing Is Caring’. 

On 3R’s Backstory

Beginning with a simple desire to pass on her unused household items to those in need, Zarina started the Facebook group, 3R Recyle, Sharing Is Caring, in 2012. From its humble beginnings, 3R has grown to include over 24,000 members. The group continues connecting people looking to donate their under/unused goods, with the less privileged in need. Among the subgroups (a total of 8) that have since formed under 3R, Zarina anchors two: 3R Sincerely Giving, that facilitates the giving away of unused items to the needy, as well as 3R Recyle. On 3R Recyle’s slogan of ‘one starfish at a time’, Zarina explains: “We help people one at a time, within our means.” 

Joking that it is almost a 24-hour commitment, Zarina’s passion for her group and its cause is evident. “Even in the middle of the night at 2 or 3 A.M., [when] people message me — because I’m a late sleeper — I’ll still reply them.” 

“Every time I see a notification, or people message me [about 3R], I have to reply on the spot. I feel guilty when I don’t!” 

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On Growing 3R & It’s Purpose

The group has also expanded with bigger charitable ventures, including supporting high needs families on a longer-term basis. “We always need some buffer time [before] we can get help. Sometimes you can’t get help immediately…that’s where 3R comes in. We help them financially and holistically. Maybe we’ll write to HDB, or get a job for them, things like that.”

Zarina has even used 3R to reach domestic helpers in Singapore. She holds a flea market for donated goods at her own house bi-annually, where domestic helpers are invited to come by and collect what that they need. “We support our foreign friends here,” she says. 

And the reason behind Zarina’s drive? It is because she understands financial difficulties all too well, having had to single-handedly raise her 3 children when her husband passed away 10 years ago. This International Women’s Day, we celebrate Zarina’s zeal, kindness and drive to keep on giving, as well as her passion for encouraging others to do the same! 

2. Molly Shoo, The ‘Superwoman’ Living Her Silver Years To The Fullest

Age has nothing on her! At 70, Molly can be found keeping fit with morning exercises, catching up with friends and tending to her urban garden. She also actively serves her community by volunteering with the elderly through Red Cross. On top of these commitments, Molly still makes time to forge meaningful relationships with her neighbours and for self-development, like taking a new SkillsFuture art course! This International Women’s Day, we celebrate Molly for her passion to stay active, involved and to preserve the kampung spirit. 

3. Sindhu Mathew, The Senior Nurse At The Frontlines For Her Patients & Family

As a senior nurse in a high dependency ward, Sindhu is ever-ready to provide essential care for high risk patients. Though demanding, Sindhu is driven by her passion for nursing to remain on the medical frontlines. She also makes sure that she is always on the frontlines for her family of 7, while her husband works full time. From helping her 5 children (aged 3 months to 14 years) with their studies, to sewing them clothes, cooking and even baking — all despite the rigour of her profession. This International Women’s Day, we celebrate Sindhu for her tireless contributions as a nurse, as well as her dedication to her family.  

4. Emalin Rom, The Selfless Mum To Her 3 Special Needs Children

As the saying goes, a mother’s love can be one of the most powerful things. At 71, Emalin continues to look after her 3 adult children with special needs. Of whom her twin children, Edwin and Muad, were diagnosed with Autism 30 years ago. After her husband passed away 8 years back, Emalin has been receiving help from social services, neighbours and friends, as she weathers through tougher times to care for her children. This International Women’s Day, we celebrate Emalin for her fortitude and unwavering devotion as a mother. 

5. Sim Swhu Fong, The Grandmother Of 6 With A Zest For Life And Learning

One thing to remember: it’s never too late to start. At 73 and a grandmother of 6, age is but a number for Swhu Fong, who continues to care for her family while pursuing new experiences. Apart from putting her handicraft dexterity to use by making lanterns (from recycled materials) for friends, Swhu Fong’s quest for learning motivated her to complete a senior citizen’s swimming course. She also participates actively in SkillsFuture programmes, in her constant strive for new knowledge and novel skills. This International Women’s Day, we celebrate Swhu Fong’s drive for lifelong learning and self-improvement. 

6. Sabrina Binte Samri, The Full-Time Employee & Mum Of 5 Dedicated To Empowering Women & Her Community

Sabrina has taken holding a full-time job while being a mother to 5 young children in her stride, as she goes above and beyond to empower the community; from directing the Mrs Singapore Malays International Beauty Pageant, to chairing a social committee under the National Safety Council of Singapore (NSCS) and fundraising for various beneficiaries. There is no end in sight for Sabrina’s contributions. She is currently working on building W.A.N.I.T.A: a Malay women’s club aimed at fostering a supportive community among Malay women, to help them achieve their goals. This International Women’s Day, we celebrate Sabrina for her remarkable passion and commitment towards serving the community. 

 7. Patma Nanoo, An Enduring Passion For People, Community And Higher Learning

At 68, Patma has come a long way overcoming life’s hurdles. At one point, she held 2 jobs to support her family and her children’s education. In spite of the challenges, Patma has emerged with strength and a greater passion for supporting others. She gives back in her own way through active volunteering and reaching out to everyone regardless of race, or religion — particularly to those in need. Amidst devoting her time to family and community, Patma also pursued higher learning and even graduated with diplomas from Kaplan Institute! This International Women’s Day, we celebrate Patma for her determination, warmth and generosity. 

 8. Salina Johana, The Selfless Role Model Wearing Many Hats

Salina truly exemplifies the saying that nothing is impossible, as long as you never give up. Over the years, Salina has been a loving and selfless caregiver to her family; from her sick father-in-law, to her wheelchair-bound mother-in-law and now, her brother who requires regular dialysis. While ensuring she is always there for her brother’s needs and as his pillar of support, Salina remains devoted to community involvement. Apart from constantly seeking to learn new skills, Salina volunteers extensively in school through the Parent Support Groups (PSG). As an active PSG member, Salina guides, helps and befriends other parents, despite her heavy care-giving responsibilities (Even hosting the group at her house over Hari Raya Puasa!). This International Women’s Day, we celebrate Salina for her positive attitude, perseverance and magnanimity!

This post is written in collaboration with Sembawang GRC. Hear more stories from everyday remarkable women at Sembawang GRC’s Women’s Festival 2020 on Sunday, 8 March 2020 at Kampung Admiralty.

Andrea will also be speaking at the festival — she will be sharing insights into her career as a Digital Content Creator (i.e. the journey of setting up her own Social Media Production Company) and how she gets inspired.

To register, or to find out more about the festival, scan the QR code in the poster below. The festival is free of charge and is open to all. You can also come by to support up and coming women-led businesses at the festival.

“Here’s to strong women. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.”

Take care,

Melisa Goh

Melisa Goh

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