Umi Waheeda, the mother to 15,000 children

‘When I’m gone, I cannot take care of my children, that’s why I am building this system.’ – Umi Waheeda

Taking care of just one child is a handful for most parents, but Umi Waheeda cares for 15 000. The 51-year-old Singaporean heads the Al-Ashriyyah Nurul Iman Islamic Boarding School in Indonesia, providing free education, accommodation, education and even health services to the thousands of children placed in her care.

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Her radiant and beautiful heart for service is combined with a desire to develop a sustainable form of enterprise that can support her children.

‘When [the children] see Nurul Iman, they will see that my husband and I built it from nothing. [They will see] how we found a way,’ says Umi, with tears in her eyes.

Her journey was no doubt arduous and painful — yet today, Nurul Iman is an inspirational success. The school is entirely self-sustainable and students are even taught entrepreneurship. The school has a bakery, recycling centre and even a hair salon that is run by students, allowing them to learn through personal experience.

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She shares with us her plans to buy a new machine that can convert plastic bags to diesel, such that even waste can be made into something useful.

This attitude, of creating something amazing out of seemingly little, is found everywhere in Umi’s school, showing how every small gesture, item and person is treasured.

Above all, Umi wants her children to be true Muslim leaders with virtue, character, a sincere heart and above all, the ability to love. By seeing her interact with people of other religions and nationalities,

She wants them to realise that the most important thing is to ‘love one another in harmony, since we share the same planet.’

Umi’s story is a powerful one. Her resilience and determination in opening a school, as well as her meticulousness in caring for so many, makes us realise just how much can be achieved when one has the heart to do it.

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The old saying goes,

‘Give a man a fish and he feeds for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he feeds for a lifetime.’

Umi Waheeda’s school does not just teach her children to fend for themselves but teaches them heart and soul — something that we all need a lesson in, every now and then.

If you’ve not checked out our video featuring Umi Waheeda, show it some love here!

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