Childcare is certainly no easy task and whilst many parents may have at one point or another jokingly wished their children would grow up and leave the nest, Mdm Sartha went in the opposite direction and took on more children into her nest. Mdm Sartha has always played a role in childcare, from that of her own children to looking after her sister's’ children as well as fostering many other children in need.

Despite already having 4 children of her own, all under the age of 14, Mdm Sartha decided to foster her first child 46 years ago. Mdm Sartha was initially hesitant to take in the child when she saw how fragile and helpless the child was. Nevertheless, she decided to become the child’s protector and under her watchful care, the child started to grow stronger day by day.

When the child turned 30 years, she moved into a home to learn how to live independently. She has a low mental capability and would otherwise be dependent on Mdm Sartha for life. Mdm Sartha continues to visit her often, having established a bond with her. However, her foster daughter is unable to recognise Mdm Sartha as the woman who had raised her.

Though the road was not with its challenges, Mdm Sartha has gone on to care for more special needs children.

“As my family members and myself treat them as our own kids, we do not consider it as a burden.”

After her first foster child, Mdm Sartha wholeheartedly fostered more children under MSF Fostering Scheme, many of whom were special needs children. Usually taking on two children at a time, Mdm Sartha treated them as her own, saw to their needs and ensured the children did not want for anything. She was also helped in this by her large family, all of whom lived together and hence were on hand to provide assistance.

Her first foster child being the longest she has cared for to date, other foster children have also come and gone under her care through the years. As such, Mdm Sartha is no stranger to the parting when the time comes. She remembers the bitter-sweet pain of parting when her foster children reunite with their parents or when they are adopted. Despite this, Mdm Sartha cherished time spent with each child. She wonders at the genuine love and joy each child has given her during their stay with her… “When you love them, they in turn have a way of making you feel loved, showing it in small ways.”

“We had an extended family - lived with us together and all of us take turns to take care.”

To date, 76 year old Mdm Sartha has fostered more children than she can count and shows no signs of stopping. She is currently looking after a teenage boy for the past 18 years. Worrying as other parents do, Mdm Sartha fusses over her son’s whereabouts and with the company he keeps. Evidently, Mdm Sartha cares for these children immensely just as much as any parent would for their own children and more so than some. Although Mdm Sartha has been through a personal loss when her own daughter passed on at 19, Mdm Sartha continues to be out-pouring love for these children in need of foster homes. In turn, it is no wonder then that this love is returned by the children as well. “My (current foster) son would bring me something to eat or bring me to a doctor,” recalled Mdm Sartha proudly on how her foster son shows his love when she was unwell.

Keeping in mind her promise to her own father, Mdm Sartha in turn passes her knowledge on to all the children she encounters and does her utmost to ensure each of them receives a proper education, no matter the circumstances. She also ensures that the right values are inculcated in all the children under her care, and feels proud when outsiders comment on how respectful and well brought up her foster children are.

“It all depends how we bring up our child.”

Under the MSF Fostering Scheme, foster families provide shelter, stability and love to children who need the service. Mdm Sartha had indeed through her commitment provided a nurturing home environment to many such children. It is obvious that she firmly believes this fostering scheme is a much-needed one and many should come forward to volunteer as foster families. In this regard, Mdm Sartha has recruited her own son to be part of this scheme and today he is also sharing his love with a fostered child.

50Faces salutes Mdm Sartha for the bountiful love she has shown to all the children whom she helped to foster and make a difference in every one of them.

A dedication to the pioneers in the Indian community.

50Faces brings your stories of ordinary Singaporeans who have contributed to our community and nation building.