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IBU Projects and Activities- How our volunteers do what they do

Updated: Dec 8, 2023

IBU is an organisation mainly run by volunteers. Mothers on a career break, learning a new skill or keeping up with the times. Young parents who find parenting a lonely job after the hustle and bustle of regular life. Professionals, entrepreneurs, consultants, lawyers, accountants, an ex air-hostess or two, everyone wears a different hat for IBU in their off-time.

The IBU Volunteers secret sauce

IBU has existed for over 25 years now. Which means, some of the little munchkins are now grown up themselves, and we wait to welcome IBU Gen 2 into our volunteer network somewhere in the near future! And the parents are still in touch, still friends after all these years.

IBU has always been volunteer led. The reasons why someone volunteers that hard-to-find time to keep IBU functioning are as many as the number of volunteers we have today!

Did you know,

- our group meetings are held after 9pm, when the kids go to sleep.

- some of us have not met in real life yet, though we end up chatting nearly every day.

- our peak activity periods are weekends, when we source the next activity, the next child friendly location, plan the next bazaar, strike a deal with the next vendor…

The only thing that holds everyone together is the idea of raising our children as part of a Tribe; the wider we spread, the more friends for our children, the more things to do together.

The more memories we make together.

First person accounts

We spoke to a few of the hard working volunteers, to understand what they get out of stretching their limited time to volunteer with us. Here are their stories

Mary-Anne Ee, Leader, IBU Special Projects

Managing and participating in IBU Special Projects has been a whirlwind of joy, learning, and community connection. A roller-coaster of experiences!

- A connection to the community: You see the photos and the reels after an event, we see the happy faces of the children. We remember the laughter during brainstorming sessions, the camaraderie at meetings. Each time we see a photograph of any of the events, we get that same sense of accomplishment. It does not become old!

IBU at the Faber Castell workshop

- The Behind the Scenes hard work: There are the inevitable challenges. WhatsApp chats during all hours of the day and night meetings to plan and manage every logistical nightmare. We work overtime to ensure every detail was just right. We wear our mommy hats and we walk that extra mile to see that the comfort we desire as parents is available to other families, most of who we have never ever met!

- Overwhelming challenges- The diversity of our group meant that every event brings a new perspective, a unique idea. And often, an unexpected solution, a far cry from what we originally planned. What looks like a seamless event is the result of many hours of supporting each other, anticipating every problem together, often late into the night.

- A best of both worlds: Both a volunteer and a participant gave me a holistic perspective. As a volunteer, I could anticipate the needs and preferences of the participants because I had been in their shoes. And as a participant, I could deeply appreciate the volunteers’ efforts, having known the grind behind the glitter.

I would like to add a special thanks to all IBU volunteers. Your passion, commitment, and unwavering spirit are the backbone of every successful project. If you feel no one is noticing what you do, just remember, you are our unsung heroes, you are the drivers of change, and you embody what it means to give back to a community.

Here's to many more milestones and memories together!

Marlene Wargis, Leader, IBU Special Projects

‘Oooo, my kids will be so excited!’ That was my first thought when I saw the IBU Fire Station visit announcer. I’m not exactly sure if Mummy i.e. ME was more excited or was the kids. Probably both!

When I was young, I got to experience a ride in the fire truck as part of a church activity. The exhilaration was incomparable. But alas, I wasn’t an IBU member as my kids were already in school most of the day, and at time I wasn’t sure about why I should take up an IBU membership.

I waited for another session to be announced, and grabbed the chance to bring them to the next Fire Station trip.

Oh boy, it was fun! Riding in the fire truck, sliding down the pole (only Mummy got to do that), entering a smoke room, meeting the unsung heroes - the firefighters (Mummy got a little excited by that wink, wink) and the water play at the end.

And I met the other mums. Over the coffees and sandwiches that were provided, we talked. Of the endless possibilities and activities for the kids, of making plans to meeting up later, of discovering new connections and similarities with the other families.

I did more than dive into the IBU network after that- I volunteered! I began planning and curating activities catering to kids the same age as my own. And fulfilled a long term wish of this seasoned family treasure hunt planner, we set up the first Great IBU Treasure Hunt!

The team who stepped up to organise the Treasure Hunt was diverse. I am a messy play specialist and a speech and drama teacher. We had a certified Ministry of Health trainer and two who work full time. We managed to find a free slot where we could go walking the treasure hunt trail ourselves, creating clues together, and the weather behaved itself for us that day. We met, we chatted, we had coffee, we took mad photos for the posters… and above all we became friends.

What more can you ask for!

Eve Li, IBU Social Media Manager

Being a volunteer, you are often prepared for the unexpected. You learn to increase what you accomplish in your day, you adapt to change and unforeseen road blocks. And sometimes, all that leads to incredible experiences.

Such was the case when I picked up the courage to volunteer as coordinator for a fire station trip for our children. If you think my day job and as the social media manager of the IBU pages (plus, motherhood!) is doing a lot , I said to myself, “hey, that’s how I am!”

What started as a well-planned event turned into a rollercoaster of last-minute changes, which led to one of the most memorable days of any event!

The Original Plan: The event had been meticulously planned for months. We had chosen a local fire station (Sri Hartamas) with excitement in the air. The children couldn't wait to explore the world of firefighting, and we had prepared numerous activities and goodies for them. Everything was set, and we were ready to provide an unforgettable day for the little ones.

The Unexpected Twist: 3 days before the actual day event, the fire station called to cancel the visit due to an unforeseen issue. Panic set in, I knew we had to find a solution.

A journey to a new centre: Desperation turned into determination as I started scouting for alternatives. Luckily, I found a new fire station, located 11 kilometers away. With little time to spare, we coordinated permissions and payments, coordinated with parents who had already bought their tickets for the original location, coordinated work allocation among fellow volunteers, organised delivery of the snacks and goodies.. and all the time wondering if people will show up for a morning in a location so far away from the one they had bought the tickets for. Yes, many nails were bitten raw that weekend!

The New Fire Station- Hang Tuah: This last-minute change turned into a silver lining. The new fire station, while further away, was a bigger facility, gleaming with state-of-the-art equipment. The firefighters were excited to showcase their abilities, we were allowed into their smoke room, we slithered down the shiny poles, moms had so much fun while the fire fighters shared their knowledge and safety tips with the kids.

The venue change transformed the event from an ordinary visit into an extraordinary adventure.

The event was a success, thanks to the resilience of the volunteers, the unwavering support of the parents, and the new fire station's warm welcome. The smiles on the children's faces and the valuable lessons they learned about adaptability and community support made it a day we will cherish forever.

This experience reinforced something no amount of formal, by the book jobs can teach. IBU allowed us the flexibility to take the decisions, had faith in the team that we will make the best of the situation.

It is a reminder to me that even in the face of unexpected challenges, the spirit of

community can lead to a cherishable memory.

Contributions from Mary-Ann Ee: she brings 19 years of global finance leadership to the table. As a first time mom, participating in IBU activities helps her learn about the experiences of other parents and their perspectives

Marlene Wargis: Messy Play Specialist, Early Childhood Educator and Speech and Drama Teacher. And a mother of 2

Eve Li: A holistic wellness coach, an aromalift practioner, social navigator and the best story teller.

Also a mother to a 4 year young home schooled child

To know more about what IBU does, click here

To volunteer with us, click here

To sponsor one of our activities, click here


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