On 19 December 2019, FLY: Malaysia held a financial literacy initiative with the children from the House of Love. Whilst there, we had the opportunity to speak with Dr Joseph Pang, nicknamed the Father of Orphans by Sin Chew Daily for his social work.
Dr Joseph Pang, a philanthropic figure who has been giving back to society through social work for 24 years, established House of Love in 2012 with the core belief that all children should be showered with love and care. He currently serves as the chief administrator for House of Love and co-founded Yayasan Kebajikan Berkat Kasih Malaysia alongside Dr David Lim in 2013. Along with his charity work, Dr Pang has also ventured on an entrepreneurial journey with his wife in both the F&B and beauty industry. Dr Pang’s work with children from underprivileged brackets of society earned him an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration by SABI University, France.
“Again? Why are you starting another project again?” Dr. Joseph recalls his wife’s frustrations.
Starting his journey in social work from the age of 18, Dr Pang believes that his passion for social work stems from religious values ingrained in him ever since he was young. Dr. Joseph believes in love, compassion, kindness, and giving back to society; that in the non-profit field, “Love” triumphs all else.
House of Love
House of Love was established as a home for the abused, abandoned, neglected or orphaned children. With the slogan “Together, We Love and Care”, Dr. Joseph emphasized the importance of providing a loving familial environment, where the children refer to each other as siblings and their caretakers with endearing terms, such as papa, mama, uncle and aunty. He also noted the importance of the presence of parental figures in a child’s life, as it is the key to a loving family. Currently, housing 27 children, House of Love focuses on a few pillars to nurture the children – faith, education and character-building.
As a rather spiritual man himself, Dr. Joseph incorporates religious values and ethics in the children’s education. He emphasizes and encourages honest behaviour and compassion towards each other. As part of the journey to develop character, each child is tasked with house chores to provide them with individual responsibilities and to educate them about the values of accountability and teamwork. He believes that if the children are nurtured from a young age, they tend to cope better and adopt said values more easily.
Education Project & Aquaponic Project
The Education Project and Aquaponic Project were kick-started to see the House of Love children grow into independent adults with practical income-generating and soft skills.
Through the day to day activities that the children are involved in, the caretakers also take note of the interest and talent exhibited by children in their care for example in culinary arts or botany. Dr Pang acknowledges that not all children are academically inclined and so, House of Love tries to encourage the children to further enhance other skill sets that can potentially be a source of income in their future by bringing in friends and family with the necessary skill sets to coach them.
House of Love possesses its ambitious project, The Aquaponic Project, to introduce the children to sustainable farming and entrepreneurship. Inspired by the saying “You reap what you sow”, the Aquaponic Project is designed to instil good work ethics such and patience and perseverance. House of Love makes it a priority that the Aquaponic Project remains a hands-off project with minimal adult supervision, but rather, assigning the responsibilities to the children instead.
The Education Project is self-explanatory in its name. As part of the project, House of Love is currently in discussion with corporate companies that might be willing to sponsor their children for tertiary education such as college degrees or vocational training, based on their interests and academic performance.
Challenges at House of Love
Of course, running House of Love isn’t all sunshine and rainbows as housing and taking care of 27 children presents its challenges. The children taken into House of Love tend to have low self-esteem, understandably, after facing unimaginable life-changing circumstances or, in some cases, abandonment or abuse. These children may also find it difficult to receive unconditional love and acceptance from the people around them and are very pessimistic about the future as they cling on to the trauma of their past.
As they grow older, they may be influenced by negative peer pressure from friends, and potentially transition into a “rebellious” phase. Growing maturely into the real world may cause some of these young adults to question right from wrong, making them susceptible to external negative influences such as gangsterism.
There have been cases where the teenagers lash out and make sudden and striking changes in their appearance, perhaps to fit in with their friends. Dr Pang believes these incidences to be a cry for help in a quest to seek a sense of belonging. He believes that being stern or strict with the children when they are “rebelling” only ends up pushing them further away, hence preferring a more gentle approach that tries to understand the children’s perspective.
HOL 448 Volunteering & Foodbank
Stemming from the primary purpose of House of Love, the 448 Volunteering and Foodbank initiative is one built on the essence of creating attainable opportunities for anyone to involve in social work. The founding concept of the project is oriented on one’s innate need to give back to society in a tangible manner. Reflecting the underlying intimidation of committing to a demanding volunteering project, the 448 initiative contrasts itself by requiring volunteers to work only 4 hours a month, amounting to just 48 hours annually- thus the figure 448. Dr Pang believes that this manner of social work circulates the realization that such forms of contribution have monumental impacts on the lives of both the underprivileged and the volunteers alike. The Foodbank is one of the ways volunteers can put their volunteering hours to good use by contributing back to society, thereby providing “adopted” families that are in need with groceries on the first Sunday of every month.
Challenges with Foodbank
Acknowledging the ever-present threat of scams and deceptive practices, the 448 Initiative goes to great lengths to ensure their efforts are not misdirected. Background checks are conducted twice a year on the families on the receiving end of such aid, which is a measure found to be of immense requirement in ensuring the financial relief implied with the support given is not misguided. For instance, it is ensured that the families receiving aid from the foodbank genuinely require it and do not simply commercialise the resources provided to them. This reassurance has enabled the Foodbank to provide support for over 300 families across the nation.
Dr Pang mentions that while a person may feel the necessity to contribute to social work, one must ensure that they are giving back responsibly. The Foodbank initiative seeks to be a cause to alleviate the burdens of the poorer communities and treads on a fine line to not eliminate their burdens to not create a sense of dependency. The long term goal is to enable the communities to gain a stable foothold and independence for themselves in the future.
Yayasan Kebajikan Berkat Kasih Malaysia and House of Love are both relatively new organisations and Dr Pang aspires for the network and contributions to grow exponentially larger. Commending the efforts poured into the Foodbank initiative and House of Love from both the 448 programme volunteers and HOL administrators/caretakers, Dr Pang recognizes that it requires a great team to move mountains in the field of social work. He is grateful for all the contributions and sacrifices that his family, team, and donors have made to the organization which have enabled a meaningful impact on the society.
When probed about his plans, Dr Pang mentions that the grand scheme of things is to nationalize the 448 Volunteering and Foodbank programme, which, given the success he has seen, definitely seems like a possible feat in the not – so – distant future. Working actively on expanding his operations while delegating responsibilities, Dr Pang seeks to build a socially conscious generation of contributors and leave behind an honourable legacy.
With an ambitious target set in mind, Dr. Joseph ponders and considers the plausibility that in 10 years, he can retire and spend more time with the children.
FLY: Malaysia thanks Dr Joseph Pang for taking the time to share his thoughts and experiences with us. Learn more about the House of Love and how you can contribute here.
Journalist: Wilson Teh
Authors: Wilson Teh, Melanie Fernandez
Download article : The Father of Orphans, Joseph Pang
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