Singing their hearts out for mums in need

Ms Fazslindah (in blue) receiving a rose from her husband during the grand finale of a charity concert yesterday. The Songbirds - Where Dreams Take Flight matinee is the first large-scale fundraiser by Daughters Of Tomorrow.
Ms Fazslindah (in blue) receiving a rose from her husband during the grand finale of a charity concert yesterday. The Songbirds - Where Dreams Take Flight matinee is the first large-scale fundraiser by Daughters Of Tomorrow.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Daughters Of Tomorrow charity raises $28,700 to help train women for return to workforce

It was her late mother's favourite song. But housewife Fazslindah Ahmad Sualey never got to perform Beyonce's soul ballad Listen onstage in her mother's lifetime.

Yesterday, the 30-year-old put aside her stage fright and the struggles that have consumed her life - her family's financial troubles, her daughter's sickness and mounting bills - and seized the chance to sing her heart out.

In a concert at the Raffles Institution Performing Arts Centre, she raised her voice in song alongside more than 20 volunteers from the Daughters Of Tomorrow (DOT) charity to raise funds for mothers in need like herself.

The Songbirds - Where Dreams Take Flight matinee was the first large-scale fundraiser by DOT, which aims to empower underprivileged women and train them for a return to the workforce.

Incorporated as a charity just a year ago, DOT raised $28,700 yesterday for 70 mothers from low-income families.

The funds will put these women, who have stayed at home for many years as caregivers, through a training programme to prepare them for employment again.

Ms Fazslindah had to give up her waitressing job about five years ago to take care of her daughter, 10, who has diabetes.

Her husband's monthly salary as a deliveryman is not enough to cover her daughter's medical bill, which can go up to $3,000 each month.

She said: "It's very challenging. Her sugar levels are not constant and I have to look after what she eats, what she drinks, monitor her activities 24/7. She is so precious to me."

Diabetes claimed the life of her mother, then 49, two years ago. She rushed to the hospital to be by her side but did not make it in time.

She said of her mother, a divorcee who raised two kids single-handedly: "She had a hard life. Once, she spent a day in a lock-up because she stole a packet of biscuits to feed my brother and me.

"If only she could be here today to hear me sing. I would say sorry, sorry, sorry for all the times I didn't listen to her."

DOT founder and executive director Carrie Tan said of the charity's beneficiaries: "These are women from poor families with limited access to support. About 30 to 40 per cent are single mothers. Some have several children, some have husbands who are incarcerated.

"It's not easy for them to find employment. Some, because of family reasons, have not been looking for many, many years."

The concert was the brainchild of volunteer Rita Liu, a vocal trainer who realised last September that her fellow volunteers' avid karaoke habit could be put to good use.

The 45-year-old said of Ms Fazslindah: "I have such respect for her. She is not just a beneficiary, she puts herself out there to benefit others."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 06, 2016, with the headline 'Singing their hearts out for mums in need'. Print Edition | Subscribe