By Mariam Mokhtar
Working mothers are often frustrated by the lack of support, when taking care of their children. A number of mothers are forced to leave their jobs, and stay at home, to look after their family. Having been forced to forego their careers, some have complained about many aspects of their lives, and the undermining of their confidence.
Major Shera Ann Bosco, also known as Mummy Juls, is a full-time working woman and the mother of a 7-year-old boy. She indulges in sports, and running is her favourite hobby. She has started an online community project, although she is based in Kuala Lumpur, hers is a good role model for mothers throughout Malaysia.
Realising the need for a support system, which focuses on the mothers' needs and the importance of building-up resources, she said, "The solution was to create a conducive atmosphere where mothers can support and motivate one another. I felt I could contribute to the economy and together with my friend, Umesh, started a Facebook page, called "Jobs for Caring Moms Malaysia – Babysitter, Tutor, Daycare". This was in April 2016.
"Most Malaysians are hooked on Facebook, and the Facebook group was a free platform with which to bring out the best in the mothers. In it, we offered a few basic principles and guidelines to support caring mothers.
"We dubbed the group, ‘Caring Moms’ and it signifies two things. First. Mothers care and love their families, irrespective of their monetary or social status. Second. We wanted to create a culture of care and support, whilst giving priority to the mothers who do so much for society."
Although the support network had taken one year, to get off the ground, Mummy Juls said, "We finally decided it was the right time and started. After all there will never be a better time. We had much support from our friends and families. Our parents were happy that we are able to help so many people.
"There was a little resistance, but resistance to change and the fear of something new is always present. We are stronger when we learn to face these challenges."
Describing the response to ‘Caring Moms’, Mummy Juls said, "It has been very encouraging from day one, and didn't expect the growth that we have, today. This gap was waiting to be filled. It was like awakening a sleeping giant. These mothers just bloomed, from a bud to a rose. From a caterpillar into a butterfly."
To date, ‘Caring Moms’ has a membership of around 40,000, who buy and sell on the platform, which Mummy Juls started. She said, "We hope to bring out the confidence in mothers. They have the power, the drive and they have tremendous potential."
Running ‘Caring Moms’, has not always been plain sailing and Mummy Juls said, "We experience problems daily. This is firstly a Facebook group. Buyers and sellers do not have a secure mode of transaction. There are integrity issues. Scammers and fake accounts. We have found it tough, running a group this large. We both have our own full time jobs and families to care for."
Despite the pitfalls, she said, "It is pure happiness to see the joy of a mother when her item is sold out and many people compliment her cooking. I am sad that running the group means I do not spend enough time with my son."
Seeing herself play an important role in the community, Mummy Juls stressed that she did not want ‘Caring Moms’ to be perceived as a charity group, because the products and services offered by the mothers are of high quality.
She said, "Our success is based on merit, and not on people's sympathy towards us. To ensure the safety of our mothers, we keep away from any charity that requires donation in monetary form.
"At the end of the day, we are just an enabler, to help make things happen. We are a social media platform which is easily found on Facebook. We are definitely not responsible, should something go wrong between buyer and seller, because we do not have a dedicated, secured platform."
Mummy Juls wants to empower mothers, economically, and make them feel confident about themselves, with the respect and position, they deserve.
With visions for the future, she said, "We want the support system to grow nationwide, with mothers who are celebrated. Children are the future of any society. We want ‘Caring Moms’ to become a culture that society acknowledges, where mothers are treated with utmost respect and special provisions are given to them at workplaces, and public places."
Mummy Juls message is simple, "Our effort goes across the board to all mothers, not just single mothers. We all have our battles. You are welcome to join www.facebook.com/groups/caringmoms.
"The magic is happening there."