“A positive mind to continuously strive and being ever ready to try something new is what keeps me going,” said 55-year-old Jenny Pong.
After giving birth to stillborn twins back in 1985, Jenny suffered a major health condition that led to paraparesis (when you’re partially unable to move your legs). A postnatal infection caused her to fall into a coma for two years. After regaining consciousness, Jenny had a minor accident and unfortunately lost both her legs.
“I recall how my father in law purchased a coffin for me when I fell into a coma. He told everyone that I was never going to make it, but my own family members did not give up on me. I could hear all the arguments that were going on, but I could not respond. It felt as if I was in a deep sleep. My late mother and father never gave up on me and they believed that I would be awake one day. To be honest, my parents are God’s greatest blessing to me,” said Jenny.
Jenny moves around using a trolley that her youngest brother made. Although she faces several health issues including diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney problems which she was recently diagnosed with, nothing appears to be a barrier for her.
Her indomitable spirit and positivity has helped her to face insurmountable odds. She now owns her own business making scrumptious curry and sambal paste using only fresh ingredients with no preservatives added.
“The idea came about when one of my friends from Soroptimist Ipoh (SI) asked me to cook for her and upon tasting, her husband suggested that I should start up my own catering business which I declined. To start up a catering business, it requires manpower and I obviously don’t have such support. That was when they suggested that I should market my paste instead. At first, my brother doubted if I could make it but being a fast decision-maker, I told him that I was positive about my decision.”
“After the first batch was completed, I rang my friend up to try and she immediately loved it. I live by a simple rule. Opportunities only come by your doorsteps once, grab it when you have the chance. Once I have an idea, I tend to execute it immediately with a positive mindset because you will never go far with a negative mind,” she told Ipoh Echo.
The first batch comprised three flavours, namely the Nyonya Curry paste, Sambal Belacan and Ginger dipping sauce. Recently, since the movement control order (MCO) was implemented, Jenny took this time to create three new flavours, the steam fish paste, anchovy’s sambal paste and Asam Laksa.
“Those three new flavours are not available in the market yet, but I will be launching them soon,” she mentioned.
When asked about her business flow during MCO, Jenny told Ipoh Echo that her business has indeed slowed down. This is because she could not get her ingredients on time.
For our readers’ information, Jenny’s products are not available at outside stores. Because she does not use preservatives in the paste that she makes, the product needs to be refrigerated or frozen. Currently, the Terrace Cafe in Meru Golf Resort carries her paste.
Despite having her ups and downs, she is grateful for having a great family to support her.
“We work as a team. We have each other’s back and if you ask me, I would say that God has been extremely kind to me. Of course, in the beginning, we faced a few obstacles as a family especially in terms of communication.
“God only gave us two ways: to either be happy or sad. Life is short but the journey is long. Therefore, I chose to be happy and no matter what happens, I will keep moving forward. Despite people thinking I was dead; I came back stronger. I need to give thanks for this life and not just moan about my fate. Suicide was never an option to me,” she explained.
Although her lower limbs are dysfunctional, Jenny never bemoaned the challenges she faced. She wakes up every day being thankful for the life she has. Every Chinese New Year, Jenny will host gatherings for those physically challenged. She cooks for them and enjoys their company. During this time, she often receives sponsorships from kind-hearted citizens.
“My late mum is my biggest inspiration. She was hardworking and at the same time, she was kind to everyone. It is because of her I’m where I am today,” she expressed.
If you wish to purchase the homemade curry/sambal paste, Jenny Pong can be reached via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Chef/Jenny-Pongs-1823755687842870/ or call her at 012-5875407. Orders can also be made via WhatsApp at 016- 6306837.