Being the Bridge of Love

Columbia Asia Hospital – Iskandar Puteri’s CSR effort reaches out to a safehouse for women


Columbia Asia Hospital – Iskandar Puteri (CAH-IP) gives back to the society through its new project “Titian Kasih”.  Translated, it means “bridging love”, an accurate description of the work they do to bridge their medical service with the community.

Collaborating with its Sports and Recreation Club, CAH-IP’s Corporate Social Responsibility benefits Baitus Solehah Caring Centre, a home that houses unmarried pregnant women and mothers.

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The event supported women by educating them on cervical cancer, handling newborns, milk storage, nutrition, and providing emotional care.

Dr Ding Eng Li,CAH-IP General Manager, conducted a talk on cervical cancer, giving information on the risk factors and symptoms of cervical cancer and the importance of seeking medical evaluation.

The charge nurse also covered how to know if your baby is suckling well

Hanidah Kasmin, Charge Nurse, demonstrated the proper technique of breastfeeding, positions, and explained baby’s behaviours, movements and what the baby is trying to say through how his actions. She emphasised on the importance of breastfeeding and ensuring the baby is comfortable. The women also learnt what a normal breastfeeding baby’s stool looked like to reassure a new mother’s worries about her baby’s bowel movement.

Wan Nur Safariza Suhaili  Charge Nurse, shared insights on expressing breast milk effectively, how to massage the breast when engorged, breast milk storage and how long to thaw frozen breast milk.

Yap Pau Lin, dietician, talked about nutritional needs for both mother and baby. Questions from the floor were raised, and amongst them, their concerns about eating herbal supplements after giving birth answered and finding out that drinking black coffee keeps the baby awake at night.

Dr Ding, General Manager at CAH-IP and Ummi Munaliza, affectionately known as Ummi Liza, founder of Baitus Solehah Caring Centre

CAH-IP donated electrical equipment such as standing fans and a vacuum cleaner, after receiving feedback from the home on their needs. The machines, along with basic daily essentials and medication, were contributed by doctors and staff of the hospital. Collectively, all staff raised funds to purchase the items. Selected women were also given HPV vaccine shots.

“Columbia Hospital – Iskandar Puteri plays a role in promoting health awareness to the public. Our aim is to host more CSR events promoting health-related awareness and healthy lifestyle campaigns which include health screening and health talks by our specialists at public places in Johor,” said Dr Ding Eng Li.

“As a health care provider, we must also give back to the community,” she concluded.

CAH-IP will be organising Cervical Awarness Day and Blood Donation Campaign at their hospital, East Wing, Outpatient Area, on 18th January 2020 (Saturday) , 9am to 3pm. The public is cordially invited. CAH-IP will be celebrating their 10th years anniversary in 2020. Baitus Solehah Caring Centre, location undisclosed, appears to be like any normal family house from its façade. No signboards were hung, nor were there commotion that shouts any of its activity. It was meant to be that way: a safe house for women and their babies from their sexual predators, irresponsible boyfriends, and society’s stigma.

All 50 occupants – 39 mothers and remaining babies, follow a schedule that starts their day as early as 4 AM. The woman’s day is filled with Islamic studies, delegated house chores, and dedicated nap times. Most of them knew what they signed up for – finding the house through their search for help online and willingly admitted themselves to be sheltered.

Being the GM doesn’t mean you can’t assemble the new fan – Dr Ding was the first to set hers up

Since their establishment in 2013, the home has seen over 800 occupants – not a figure to be proud of, but at least over 300 infants were saved from rash and confused acts of newborn abandonment and abortion that is potentially harmful for the mothers as well. All mothers are given counselling to aid the psychological trauma. According to Ummi Munaliza, a retired educator and founder of the home, 30% of the pregnancy cases are victims of rape while the remaining are pregnancies from premarital sex. Their youngest occupant was 13, a victim of pedophilic sexual activity. All underaged pregnancies are classified as police cases.

“The first case we handled was a university student in 2012. Back then, not everybody had access to the internet. You need a laptop and a modem to be connected, so these cases were more prevalent in university students. Now, everybody has access to the internet,” shared Ummi.

The women must stay at the home for a minimum of six months before they would be allowed to leave with their parent or guardian, or lawful husbands. Ummi said that sincere men have approached her to ask for the hand of the women to marry. She carefully assesses the man’s background, along with the woman’s liking and consent, before arranging the marriage, just like she would with her own daughters. She had seen 30 of the women from her home tying the knot through her help.

Columbia Asia Hospital – Iskandar Puteri learned about Baitus Solehah at the Iskandar Malaysia Social Hero Awards gala dinner in October 2019. Baitus Solehah won the Human Empowerment, organisation category in 2019. CAH-IP were inspired by their good work and reached out to support them.

Private organisations and non-governmental organisations best go hand in hand to bridge the gap and make our communities better, stronger.