CELEBRATING MOTHERS… A mother helping other momsSunday, May 09, 2021
CLARENDON, Jamaica – Anna Chang-Liao grew up in her family's wholesale business in May Pen and, fortunately for her, she was never in a position where she had to struggle to survive. A firm believer in helping those less fortunate without expecting anything in return, the mother of four has a soft spot for single moms.
“When I see other mothers, some of whom are employees, struggle to provide for their families, as a mother I really feel compelled to help them out because being a mom is really hard. Sometimes we just need a helping hand to help us get by; so I help out because I can,” she told OBSERVER ONLINE. Chang-Liao is the wife of prominent businessman and owner of the National Self Serve Wholesale in May Pen Clarendon Stephen Liao.
“Apart from assisting with food here and there, I also help some moms send their children to school. If they are sick I ensure they are able to go to the doctor and buy medication and, trust me, that is my greatest enjoyment: to see that those that I've helped out are alright,” she beamed.
Pointing to the impact that COVID-19 has had on working mothers – reduced hours or job losses that have made it challenging to provide for their children – Chang-Liao told OBSERVER ONLINE that every month she provides several mothers with basic food items while others get assistance on a one-off basis. “When I hear of these situations I just have to reach out and help them. I cannot turn them away, I simply cannot send them away empty handed,” she explained.
Among those who benefit from her help is a two-year-old she refers to as 'Baby Kim'. The child's biological mother suffers from mental illness and Chang-Liao sees herself as the child's second mom. “When I learnt of the situation I felt the need to step in and assist. So, through our business, she is provided with food, diapers and medical help whenever the need arises,” said Chang-Liao.
The family business has a history of helping those in need. Two years Chang-Liao she was awarded the Order of Distinction in recognition of the help they have given to the community.
She is not burdened or bothered when mothers ask her for help because she believes it is a blessing to be in a position to help. “I don't know how to say no. No matter how bad it gets, I always try to help because some persons may have fallen on hard times for various reasons and just need a push to get over a rough bump,” Chang-Liao insisted.
Just last week, two mothers visited the store to pick up their supply of food items. Sophia Howe is a 46-year-old unemployed mother of four. She told OBSERVER ONLINE she was grateful for the helping hand as there are many days when she has no idea how she will be able to feed her 14, 12, 10 and four year olds. “I am so happy for Miss Anna and I pray God continue to bless them,” Howe said with a smile.
Beverly Pryce, 53, is the sole guardian for her two grandsons – one of whom is an orphan. “I also have another grandson whose father [got] sick and died and we have no idea where his mother is. I used to work and take care of them and then I lost my job. Not being able to provide for them has caused me great distress,” said Pryce. “Now with the onset of the pandemic it is even harder to get a job. Because of that, [lately] I have been suffering from high blood pressure which is sometimes unstable and so I have to be on medication to control it. Sitting down now [unemployed and] not seeing a way out bothers me, so I am grateful. Many thanks for what she does for us because she never had to do it.”
This expression of gratitude is very familiar to Chang-Liao.
“A lot of persons show gratitude and come and say thanks. Those who can, whatever produce they reap they always save me a portion just to show their appreciation. Sometimes I don't really need it, but I take it because I understand the gesture. It's their way of saying thanks. It really brings me absolute joy, I'm happy and overwhelmed to the point where words can hardly describe the feeling I get just to hear a simple thanks,” she disclosed.
“The children are our future and when the mothers are struggling to provide for their basic needs, sometimes it takes a toll on the family mentally and the children end up suffering from abuse and other forms of bad treatment,” she added as she pleaded for others, especially business owners, to do whatever they can to assist the less fortunate.
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