Women attend courses to learn skills which will enable them to start business with the help of Juita and the Johor Family Development Foundatio
WHEN she became a single mother, Ratna Haryati Ramlan registered herself for a gardening course with Yayasan Pembangunan Keluarga Johor (YPK), also known as the Johor Family Development Foundation under Juita's Income Generating Skills Programme for single mothers.
After she completed the course, she started a plant nursery in her backyard with a capital of RM1,500 from YPK.
Armed with her passion for gardening and good entrepreneurial skills, she gradually developed her business eight years ago.
She started by running a stall at the Saturday morning Pasar Tani or Larkin Farmers Market and expanded to another spot at Bandar Baru Uda.
In July, Ratna was commended for her business success and awarded RM3,000 to encourage her to further develop her business.
With new-found confidence and an established business, Ratna now trades as Hentian Hijau Nursery in a garden centre that also offers garden maintenance and landscape services.
She is one of the many success stories from the programme, the 12th project under the Juita-ku Sayang series of community projects.
In this programme designed for single mothers, the participants attend courses to learn foot reflexology and spa management, cooking, pastry-making, food and beverage packaging, tailoring, hairdressing, handicraft, child-minding, nursery care and gardening, to enable them to start a business.
YPK has been working in partnership with Juita to offer this programme since May 2003, and to date more than 3,000 participants have gone through the courses.
Those who complete their training are supported with the provision of equipment like sewing machines, cake-mixers, clothes dryers, waffle-making machines and freezers to help them in their business.
Juita, also known as Badan Amal dan Kebajikan Isteri Wakil-Wakil Rakyat Johor, is led by its president, Professor Jamilah Ariffin, who is married to Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman.
In line with the Johor State Government's aim to create a caring community through holistic development, Juita has implemented 13 welfare projects in Johor since 1995 to help needy single mothers and children under the concept of "smart partnerships" in cooperation with Johor State Departments, NGOs and the private sector.
In an event on Dec 19, graced by guest-of-honour Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, Datuk Seri Sharizat Abdul Jalil, Juita launched its 14th project to support development for indigenous people, in particular the Orang Seletar.
While Juita's previous welfare projects helped the multi-racial community in Johor, it is timely that the latest project focuses on the needs of the indigenous community.
"They are the original settlers in Iskandar Malaysia and we want to help them to upgrade themselves in tandem with the current development," said Prof Jamilah who emphasised that Juita's focus has always been on the most needy and vulnerable groups.
For a start, the Orang Seletar villages in Kg Bakar Batu, Kg Sungai Temon and Kg Simpang Arang will be cleaned up in a gotong-royong.
She said bridges and jetties in these villages will be repaired and there will be health camps for the villagers.
In addition, studies will be carried out to ascertain the health and needs of the children.
"It is important to record the achievements of Juita in the last 16 years," said Sharizat who had a preview of the book entitled Perkongsian Bijak: Kejayaan Projek-projek Juita (Bersama Agensi-agensi Kerajaan Johor dan Pihak Swasta) Dalam Kebajikan (1996 - 2011).
This book, which records the success of Juita welfare projects through smart partnerships with Johor government agencies and the private sector was launched by Sharizat.
She paid tribute to Prof Jamilah for her foresight, passion and leadership in Juita for the successful implementation of the 13 earlier welfare projects in Johor.
Prof Jamilah attributed its success to the participation and commitment of the wives of Johor State Assemblymen.
Prof Jamilah was particularly proud that Johor is the only state where the wives of state assemblymen are directly involved with the running of the 63 rehabilitation centres or Pusat Pemulihan Dalam Komuniti (PDK) for mentally challenged children in Johor.
These centres are also recognised as the best in the country.
The event was an opportunity for single mothers who had completed their course to exhibit and promote their products.
Teams from the Johor Family Development Foundation and the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development registered single mothers who were eligible for help while a medical team gave them free health checks.