Soo Yoke Cheng

After marrying, Yoke Cheng quit her job as a seamstress to look after the home and children. All that changed in 2004 when her husband passed away, leaving her a single mom with three young children. Yoke Cheng was then forced to take on the roll of both mother and father.

As a married woman Yoke Cheng was literally isolated from the world around her. Her husband paid the bills. Her husband carried a hand phone and had friends outside the home. Her husband earned an income to support the family. With no work skills, no support system from family, and no network of friends to count on, Yoke Cheng had to rely on herself to feed the family.

Next door, Foong Yee, a Salaam Wanita weaver, needed help and was willing to hire Yoke Cheng. She gradually progressed through the different stages of basket weaving. From cutting, to rolling, to finally weaving, these stages of continued growth marked different stages of Yoke Cheng's life.

As a roller, Yoke Cheng was still struggling with being a single mother, but her children motivated her to stay strong and begin to move on. Not long after she learned to cut paper, Yoke Cheng advanced to the next stage-rolling. She enjoyed the optimism and satisfaction of being able to earn an income while also caring for the home and children. What's more Yoke Cheng has made a new friend to support her in times of need. After a year of only cutting and rolling, Yoke Cheng finally learned to weave.

Perhaps the most extraordinary aspect of Yoke Cheng's story is the grace with which she has handled a tough situation. She has adopted the role of mother and father. This has meant overcoming the fear and self-doubt Yoke Cheng faced when taking on activities that were once reserved for only her husband.

Yoke Cheng hopes to continue growing in the future. Her children are 19, 14, and 12, and need support to be successful in school. Through Salaam Wanita, she has found friends, a way to support her family, and most importantly, she has found hope.