THW was started initially to publish the books we wrote but quite soon after, we found that there were many people who wanted help publishing their own books.

The first such project we embarked on was with the Muhammadiyah Welfare Home. It was a project that found us through serendipity. Stephanie was giving a talk at the Arts House on her experience of having written and produced Samsui Girl. Jaime was cheerleading from the seats. After the talk, as we were preparing to leave, two ladies approached us and asked if we were interested in helping them with a book project. They didn’t have much funds, but at the time we didn’t have much experience.

There was also another point in their favour. When Stephanie was a teacher at the (now defunct) Delta Secondary, one of her students was a resident of the Muhammadiyah Welfare Home. “I recalled he was well-behaved, neatly dressed and hardworking. This gave me a good impression of the organization,” said Stephanie.

So we took the job.

The book was to be a compilation of stories about former residents from the Home, but written by volunteer writers. Underlying the project was the “many hands” concept of social work and as many volunteers as possible were recruited to help out. There were volunteer writers, illustrators, photographers and designers, and we were the editors and sometimes, writers of the project.

With so many moving parts, it took tremendous effort and tenacity to pull off. Our effort was not as much as the two ladies who helmed the project. With a lot of faith and determination, they co-ordinated hundreds of meeting, overcome numerous obstacles and solved many problems with tact and decisiveness. We came out of the project largely with great admiration for what the determined Muslim women can do – not knowing that one would be our next President!

It has been eight years since the book was published and nine since we worked on it. We continue to keep in touch with MWH. That experience taught us that in projects like this, it is not enough to have a good consultant. One needs the right client to succeed. The MWH book is still one of the projects we’re proud to have worked on.

In the Workroom: Many Roads Home
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