How to give when you don’t have a lot? Do it on your birthday!

Giving to people who are not as fortunate as I am had always been on my mind. I was waiting until I am more capable – more income, more time, more help etc. I feel what I can give at the moment is too small to even make a difference.

Then one day I realise that I might never feel that I have enough to give and decided to give whatever little things I have now. So on my birthday, instead of having my friends buy me dinner at a fancy restaurants, we decided to go to the orphanage instead.

ozanam home klang

We cannot afford hundred of thousands ringgit of donation (yet), but we can give our time and some money. We played games and bought them some groceries and food. We gave what we can. I believe that’s most important thing. Here’s a reminder for me on how to do it again and simple guide on anyone who wants to do the same:

1. Pool your friends to do something good together.
I’m very lucky to have a group of girlfriends who celebrate birthdays with each other. My good friend Adeline and I decided that we want to do something with out limited resources and time. So we thought since our friends are willing to spend time and money on us on our birthdays, we can celebrate it at a home instead. Adeline who organised this ‘party’ for me got 7 friends to come and more to contribute monetarily.

How? I think the best time to do this is on your birthday when people who cares about you want to pamper you. The time and money for party, dinner and cakes can be channeled into a charity of your choice.

2. Find a charity that means something to you
Find a cause that you and your friend are passionate about. As we were classmates and studied in an all-girls school, we have a soft spot for underprivileged girls and education. First we found a teenage girls shelter in PJ but ended up at a young girls shelter in Klang. The little girls in Rumah Ozanam Klang from age 4 to 11 are from broken homes. They go to school and speak good English.

How? A simple google helps. Many homes have websites. Or ask friends on Facebook if they know or attached to any charity. 

playing with girls at Ozanam

3. Call the charity to secure date and find out their needs
Shelters are always looking for sponsors and are quite flexible to visits. Especially homes with trouble finding patrons. It’s a matter of giving a call, ask them for the perfect time and date (they have schedules) and what they need. We secured a Sunday (yesterday) from 3 to 6 pm.

How? Call them. Voice your interest to give your time (who you are representing, what is your intention, what you want to give, etc). Secure a date with the home and then your friends.

4. Buying/ giving things that they need 
Giving things is not necessary. Often, our time is already appreciated. But my very cool friends want to give more so we asked the home for a list of things they need. The home needed tuna, mushroom soup, fish curry powder and a few other things.

So we went to a nearby supermarket and bought them. We spent a few hundred ringgit on groceries, gifts (marker pen, drawing book and bag) and McDonalds Happy Meals. But if we were to do it again, we probably will spend on things specifically asked (no stationery/toys, just food/groceries)

How does it works? Home receive things from sponsors and they often come in bulk. When they asked for detergent for example, sometimes they get a dozen. So even though you want to give Milo to kids, if they didn’t ask for it, they probably really don’t need it. Sometimes they have trouble with storage too. So though giving is good, but I learned that its important to give what they say they need not what we think they need.

games at ozanam

5. Creating an agenda and go!
For the girls home that we’ve chosen, we’ve learned it’s quite important to have an agenda. It’s not easy to handle 16 of them if you don’t have rules and a concrete plan to keep them occupied. Though when I went to the boys home last Christmas, there were no plans and the boys were happy just eating pizza and playing football. I think it really depends on the people. The best is to ask the person in charge.

How to create agenda? The basic will be some food (e.g pizza/ McDonalds/ KFC) and games to keep them engaged. A few simple ideas:

  • Get them into groups and have one adult to be in each group. A good ratio is one adult to four girls.
  • Play dress-up girls withs newspapers. Tell them to make the best dress, crown and jewellery. You need: newspaper, masking tapes, scissors
  • Get them to pass ping pong ball from a spoon in their mouth. This can teach them about teamwork. You need: ping pong ball, plastic spoons and a paper cup (as the goal).
  • Get them to dance and then freeze when the music stop. You need: smartphone and speaker.
  • Play charades. Write down words like ‘Gorilla’, ‘Bathing’, ‘Dog’ in a piece of paper. Get a girl to act it out and the rest should guess. You need: paper and pen.

Notes: We manage to do all the above in 3 hours, on top of eating McDonalds Happy Meal and cakes. 


Thank you my very good friend Adeline for putting together my best birthday celebration ever! It truly exceeds my expectations. I only wanted to eat pizza and play together, but she also got provisions, gifts, fun games and two cakes for me! (So happy I can cry).  Thank you to all my friends who contributed their time, money and love.

Oh, my friends are Gryffindors without a doubt!