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Pesta Ria – An Afternoon Filled with Fun for Caregivers!

Pesta Ria – An Afternoon Filled with Fun for Caregivers!

On 18 June 2022, CaringSG and co-organiser MIJ Hub organised Pesta Ria, a fun-filled event for 30 participants from 13 special needs families.

Mdm Rahayu Mahzam (Guest-of-Honour and CaringSG Board Advisor) and Dr David Ang (CaringSG Board Co-Chair) chatting with a participant

Taking place at Enabling Village, UOB Ability Hub, participants heard from speakers such as Mdm Rahayu Mahzam (Guest-of-Honour and CaringSG Board Advisor), Ms Faraliza Zainal (Founder of MIJ Hub), Dr David Ang (CaringSG Board Co-Chair) and Ms Florence Lee (CaringSG Head of Programs).

Ms Faraliza Zainal welcoming caregivers and families to Pesta Ria organised by CaringSG and MIJ Hub
Mdm Rahayu Mahzam addressing caregivers and families at Pesta Ria
Dr David Ang (CaringSG Board Co-Chair) speaking to caregivers
Ms Florence Lee (CaringSG Head of Programs) sharing about caregiver issues and gaps

An energetic Zumba session conducted by instructor Siti Zhywee Binte Ramle had caregivers and their dependents dancing to the beat with smiles all around.

After photo-taking to remember the event by, participants were treated to tea refreshments and a lucky draw! Pesta Ria was supported by one CAREchampion, three CAREambassadors, and four CaringSG staff and volunteers. Special thanks to our co-organiser MIJ Hub. This event was also supported by the Enabling Lives Initiative Grant by SG Enable and Tote Board, and the Temasek Foundation.

“While it takes a village to raise a child, a community of families form a village which caregivers can support and encourage one another in the caregiving journey. Coming together like this to spend an afternoon is a great example to do that! Keep it up MIJ & CaringSG!” – Dr David Ang.

Staff and volunteers from CaringSG and MIJ Hub
From left: Dr David Ang (CaringSG Board Co-Chair), Ms Rahayu Mahzam (CaringSG Board Advisor and Guest-of-Honour), and Ms Faraliza Zainal (Founder of MIJ Hub)

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More caregivers have come forward to receive support

More caregivers have come forward to receive support

Faraliza Zainal

This is an English translation of the Berita Harian article “Kian ramai penjaga tampil dapatkan sokongan” published on 7 Feb 2022, translated by our CaringSG CAREconnect volunteer Faraliza Zainal.

Featured photo of Faraliza Zainal: File photos by Berita Harian


CaringSG has helped almost 1000 parents and caregivers of children with special needs through various programs. More than 1500 caregivers are now members.

 More than 1900 people, including almost 1500 parents and caregivers of children with special needs have enrolled with CaringSG, a non-profit organization, supported by SG Enable. Out of the 1500, almost 1000 have benefited from the inclusive programs and events that have been conducted.

Dr Lim Hong Huay, the board chair of CaringSG, shared that since CaringSG was established in November 2020, it has continuously increased awareness among parents and caregivers with regards to its programs, services and assistance provided.

According to Dr Lim, with a consistent routine, a child with special needs will be able to function better. However, it is not easy for parents or caregivers to carry it out continuously. A disrupted routine will cause a big issue for the parents and caregivers.

To give support to parents and caregivers in managing such an issue is the main objective of the organization.

Dr Lim, an epidemiologist and paediatrician, has two children with special needs.

One of the programs that CaringSG provides is Project 3i with the objective to focus on individuals, families and community of parents and caregivers of special needs. It is supported by MSF and funded by Temasek Foundation Cares, SG Enable, Tote Board-Enabling Lives Initiative, and NCSS.

According to Dr Lim, there are three programs to Project 3i, namely CAREbuddy, CAREWell and CAREConnect.

CAREBuddy connects caregivers (who feel lonely as they are not being supported) with other more experienced caregivers. CAREBuddy hopes that more caregivers who are able to take time to spend three to five hours a week and are more experienced in managing children with special needs, to join CaringSG as volunteers.

Presently, there are fifteen members who have received support through CAREbuddy program.

Apart from CAREbuddy, there is also CAREwell for those who wish to seek advice and support from the experts. This programme is carried out in close cooperation with established doctors, psychiatrists, and therapists.

The third program, CAREconnect, involves numerous support groups of caregivers of children with special needs, professionals and community supporters.

Faraliza Zainal, a mother of a young adult who has autism and the founder of MIJ Hub, is one of the volunteers of the CAREconnect program. “My role is to give support to caregivers so that they do not feel that they are alone through the sessions, which share knowledge and recommendations,” she said.

Dr Lim explained that CAREconnect is inclined towards knowledge development through webinars on issues faced by caregivers of children with special needs as well as in organising various activities to build close relationships within family members of the special needs community.

To be updated on CaringSG’s latest events and join your preferred caregiver support groups in our CaringSG Alliance Network (CAN), sign up as a CaringSG member and let us know your preference!

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Bringing Hope at MIJ Hub

Bringing Hope at MIJ Hub

Featured photo: Mohammad Ali Dawood and Faraliza Zainal at MIJ Hub’s 3D printing station (Photo courtesy of MIJ Hub)

Located on the third and fourth storeys of a commercial building at 168 Changi Road, MIJ (My Inspiring Journey) Hub Ltd is a cumulation of sacrifice and hard work by Faraliza Zainal and her husband, Mohammad Ali Dawood.


From left: Mohammad Ali Dawood, Faraliza Zainal, and their son, Ashraf (Photo courtesy of MIJ Hub)

It began when their son, Ashraf, was diagnosed with a rare disease, tuberous sclerosis, when he was just 18 months, and suffered from epilectic attacks as he grew older till today. When he was three, he was diagnosed with autism and sensory processing disorder, which means the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses, and at one time, he wouldn’t stop eating until he vomited as he couldn’t feel that he was full.

He struggled with meltdowns and was bullied in Primary 3. One day, some classmates threw a bucket of water over him, which gave him so much trauma he had to crawl back into class by the back door. His parents then decided to transfer him to a private school, followed by Pathlight School where he took his PSLE.

Although he was able to move on to vocational training, he was more keen to do more studies that relate to faith.

In 2010, Faraliza took a leap of faith to quit her job and become a special needs educator, taking up short courses on behaviour management, alternative therapy, and movement therapy to help her son, Ashraf, continue his education. She and her husband even sold their private property to raise funds to start a school for him and other special needs kids.

While looking for a classroom, she and her husband encountered numerous rejections until Sultan Mosque agreed to let MIJ have a space, where they started MIJ Hub with 15 students. Today, MIJ Hub now serves almost 300 individuals with special needs across three centres.

With MIJ Hub and the launch of Ashraf’s Cafe in 2018 and MoAsh in 2020, Ashraf has bloomed into a young man who has not only found the balance he needed in his education, but also thrives in a job with an environment that is inclusive of his needs.

Special needs employees at Ashraf’s Cafe serve customers a variety of local and western food, cakes, pastries and drinks
How does MIJ Hub create a welcoming space for students?

Taking one example, the MIJ Hub at Changi Road has been purposefully furnished to cater to students with special needs from various backgrounds.

On the same level as the preschool and student care, MIJ Hub has carved out space for a cosy library, and an even bigger space for a gym fitted with a rock-climbing wall, trampoline and various gym equipment.

MIJ Hub’s gym is kitted with a rock wall
Padding ensures children play safely, with natural lighting coming in from the windows
An MIJ student and parent participating in a bonding workshop conducted by Faraliza at the MIJ’s gym (Photo courtesy of MIJ Hub)

On a weekly basis since 2016, Evolve MMA has volunteered to conduct fun fit programs for MIJ’s students. MIJ also runs paid art therapy and expressive classes for adult students conducted by Acting Up as part of the adult programs.

Faraliza also meets her teachers on a monthly basis to discuss each and every single student, to understand their challenges and brainstorm how to help the student as a team. 

At the top level, MIJ Hub runs adult classes, with stations for different skill sets neatly spaced out for practice and also for MIJ’s employees with special needs to complete their tasks.

Step by step recipes are provided for students to follow when making corporate gifts
An MIJ student making a corporate gift following the step-by-step recipe (Photo courtesy of MIJ Hub)
Top International Holding donated a 3D printer for MIJ Hub students to create their own 3D prints
Students learn basic housekeeping skills, along with other employability skills

MIJ Hub has branched out into complementary service offerings, such as:

INSPO by Ashraf’s Cafe: This brand provides individual and corporate customers with products and services which are created by employees with special needs who require moderate to low needs and are unable to fit in the open employment market.

Faraliza showcases a popular product from Inspo - unpitted organic dates (kurma)

Work Readiness Adult Programme (WRAP): WRAP prepares students with learning differences for job readiness and jobs that they are capable of doing.

fara (4)
Standing, from left: Mohammad Ali Dawood with Mayor Fahmi Aliman at MIJ Hub’s showcase of its Work Readiness Adult Program (WRAP). Photo courtesy of MIJ Hub.
  • Bridging Program: This program provides an appropriate bridge to meet the various needs of young learners with learning differences, to ease their transition into the primary level.

Faraliza’s hope for the future is for MIJ Hub to attain ECDA licensing, so that caregivers are able to obtain subsidies for their children’s monthly fees. Currently, MIJ Hub charges fees which are below their operating costs, and depends heavily on donations to fund the balance.

To support fellow special needs caregivers with emotional support, Faraliza has signed up with CaringSG to be trained as a volunteer CAREbuddy. She encourages fellow caregivers like her to take good care of ourselves; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, in order to take care of others.  With positive well-being, we can continue to feel a sense of purpose and lead a fulfilling and meaningful life.

About MIJ Hub

MIJ Hub is a non-profit organisation that provides school readiness, student care, intervention and enrichment programs plus employment opportunities for individuals with learning differences or special care (e.g. Autism, ADHD, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome and Developmental Delay) ranging from 4 to 30 years old. The school now serves almost 300 individuals via 6 different Special Education programs provided at 3 centres located across Singapore – Changi Road, Jurong, and Woodlands.

To be updated on CaringSG’s latest events and join your preferred caregiver support groups in our CaringSG Alliance Network (CAN), sign up as a CaringSG member and let us know your preference!

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