George Town, 28 November 2018 - WHEN her husband walked out on them four years ago, Che Intan Abdul Kader, 43, became a single mum.
"I never imagined it would happen to me. My son was six and my daughter was four. Life became hard almost straight away," she recalled.
She remembered breaking down and sobbing uncontrollably when her son had an asthma attack late at night and she carried him while pulling her daughter along in search of a taxi at 3am to reach Penang Hospital.
Recently, however, her life began changing after getting five weeks' training at KDU Penang University College (KDU Penang) in a social project called 'Wonder Mama', a collaboration between the campus and Penang Women's Development Corporation.
Led by mass communication lecturer Andrew Wilfred, six undergraduates pursuing their Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Communication and Public Relations taught 16 single mothers how to start online businesses.
"They learned how to register a business enterprise, launch digital and social media marketing programmes and take good photographs to promote their products," said Wilfred. He said his team also roped in a culinary arts lecturer from the campus, who taught the mothers how to bake cakes and pastries.
To fund the project, Wilfred said his six students sold food and drinks on the campus and raised about RM2,000. Asked why Wilfred thought up 'Wonder Mama', he revealed that he was the son of a single mother.
"I know what a hard time single mothers go through to raise their children," said Wilfred, 32, who is armed with a bachelor's degree in public relations from Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, a master's degree in business administration from Universiti Utara Malaysia and is now doing a doctorate in education at Universiti Sains Malaysia.
Wilfred added that KDU Penang will intensify such social efforts after it opens its flagship campus in Batu Kawan on the mainland by 2020.
After being trained, Che Intan has created a startup called Iman's Delicious Bakery. "Iman' means 'faith'. We must have faith in ourselves and in God. We must never give up," she said.
She said she was now applying for funds to get baking equipment from Zakat Penang and wants to find a second-hand car to do home deliveries of her baking products. "The training changed me. It made me realise how much more I can do for myself and my children," she said.
But the "best thing" about 'Wonder Mama' for Che Intan was the fact that when she attended the training sessions at KDU Penang, she was allowed to bring her children along. Her boy is now 10 and her daughter is nine.
"When I was learning, the KDU Penang students spent time with my children. They taught them handicraft, Chinese and English. My kids can speak simple Mandarin now. It was a wonderful experience for my family," she said.
Che Intan also forged a sisterhood with the other single mothers she met in 'Wonder Mama' and on realising the value to sticking together, she founded Persatuan Kebajikan Bahagian Bukit Bendera.
"We are compiling a list of single mothers in the area and devising training programmes. Training is a must. With a little learning, we can do a lot of things," she said. She worked as a clerk in a law firm and a kindergarten teacher to make ends meet.