Puan Sharifah Adlan, who usually goes by Mak Pah, has been voluntarily helping others relentlessly. For more than 20 years, she has been caring for Rumah Titian Kaseh (RTK). It is a shelter for OKU (Orang Kurang Upaya --underprivileged people), homeless people, orphans, single mothers and even victims of violence based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Mak Pah moved to Kuala Lumpur when her (deceased) husband got a job in Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). After her husband passed away, she became a single mother. The situation was outside of her comfort zone. One of the challenges of single mothers is that society tends to judge and even outcast them.
Yet, Mak Pah did not grieve for long. At the age of 45 then, she opened her heart and started RTK in 1998.
She started by opening the doors of her own home. She built RTK with her own salary as a nurse. At first, she recovered four single mothers and seventeen children. And then the “family” grew bigger and she had to rent a bigger house.
Even though RTK is registered as an NGO, the house doesn’t rely on government money. Mak Pah initiated it, but then the rest of the family members try to support their home and needs independently. They sell nasi lemak (a Malay fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf), beading and sewing clothes, open a catering service and snacks to earn a living.
Even so, help from various institutions, organizations and individuals are significant in continuing their operation.
She was once asked why she made the shelter house in the city, not in the village? She said that villagers have more chances to be independent if they are poor (because their area has more resources) but in the city, there are so many abandoned children who are unable to support themselves.
She is an iron lady as well as a compassionate one. She cares for every child as for her, every child is a blessing. She even took in adults and children who suffer from mental illness, have disabilities, or suffer chronic illness such as heart disease.
Her sincerity is undeniable. Yet, it all began with a choice.
What if she hadn’t opened her home? About 100 adults and children probably still don’t have a roof to live, won’t survive, or end up in a bad place. But most importantly, she probably wouldn’t have found this big loving family called Rumah Titian Kaseh.