Different Chinese New Year do at JARO


Every year, the staff of the Johor Area Rehabilitation Organisation (JARO) will look forward to celebrating Chinese New Year with a buffet lunch hosted at the New York Hotel, Johor Baru.


The Reception Desk and pay-point at JARO

This special outing to the hotel restaurant for their Chinese New Year lunch was a treat that the staff enjoyed, generously sponsored by the hotel for the past eight years before the global pandemic reached Johor.


To meet with health and safety requirements during the pandemic for the past two Chinese New Years, some 50 staff from the three workshops in JARO – tailoring, basketry and book-binding – could not have their annual outing to the hotel.


While dine-in was allowed in restaurants this year, JARO Chairman, Datuk Jimmy Low Boon Hong, and the administrative committee in JARO, decided to host a celebration with a difference, held in the recently renovated premises of JARO.


Shopping in the JARO showroom

For safety and protection, the committee arranged for the staff to receive lunch boxes to enjoy a leisurely meal held in their staff canteen located on the lower ground section of the premises.


Meanwhile Datuk Jimmy and JARO committee members welcomed a few guests and well-wishers from the Johor Baru Tiong Hua Association to a simple buffet hosted in their event hall.


In his welcome address, Datuk Jimmy gave a brief introduction about how JARO provides training and employment for people with disabilities in workshops that create quality, custom-made handicrafts and book-binding services.


Dato Jimmy Low presenting his welcome 
address to guests at the Chinese New Year event

It was encouraging that some of the trained staff who were able to find employment elsewhere, had left JARO to pursue their own careers.


In addition to receiving training, employment and a salary, JARO also provided staff with EPF savings and SOCSO insurance coverage.


He, however, expressed his concern for JARO’s future due to the financial toll caused by the global pandemic that had affected businesses and NGO’s like JARO.


In fact, the long periods of lockdowns had badly affected the sale of JARO’s handicrafts and quality products and with corporations struggling to survive and everyone tightening their belts, JARO hardly received any donations in the past two years.


Striking a pose in the elevator,
[L to R] Datin Janet Yap,
Datin Seri Jenny Cheng and
Datin Seri Yong K H
This Chinese New Year lunch was among the annual celebrations in a calendar of social events that JARO has with their staff, like Hari Raya Aidil Fitri and the International Day for the Disabled.


The annual Chinese New Year gathering was always a joyous occasion where the JARO staff would look forward to receiving traditional gifts of Ang Pau or Red Packets of fortune money from well-wishers.


This year, however, instead of presenting the Red Packets to the staff members individually, generous well-wishers including Datin Seri Jenny Cheng, Datin Seri Yong K H and Datin Janet Yap, handed their gifts to the JARO Management for distribution to the staff. 


JARO Honorary Secretary, Mrs Sumedha Sehgal, was pleased that guests who came to the Chinese New Year event, had the opportunity to visit the showroom to buy a selection of quality handicrafts.


She was also pleased that an elevator was installed in the renovated premises to facilitate more convenient movement of their staff who were physically disabled.


Useful quality handicrafts created by the 
Tailoring workshop in JARO

She explained that the installation of this elevator was made possible through a generous donation from the former Lord Mayor of London, Alderman Allan Yarrow, who personally presented the gift to her when she visited him at his office in London in 2016.


This was a courtesy call to him as a follow-up to his visit to JARO with his wife in 2015 while he was on a two-day working visit in Johor.


The work of JARO and other charitable organisations for people with disability, was close to his heart not only because his mother, Paula Yarrow, once volunteered at JARO but also because his son also suffers from cerebral palsy.  


Yarrow has a special bond with Johor and JARO because he was born in Johor Baru in 1951 and lived his first six years here.


A range of products in a section of the showroom

His family was in Johor because his father, Colin Yarrow, founded Metal Box Company, a can making factory in Woodlands in 1948. [Note: Malaya and Singapore were then, still one country.]


In 1952, JARO was established as a sheltered workshop for recovered tuberculosis patients, then known as the Johor Anti-Tuberculosis Rehabilitation Organisation and his mother used to help out as a volunteer. From 1955 to 1956, C. D. Yarrow took over the role of Chairman of JARO from the founder, Dr Beryl Wilberforce-Smith.


While the Chinese New Year celebration in JARO this year was toned down for very good reasons, it was encouraging to see the refreshed showroom stocked with a wide range of quality handicrafts and souvenirs along with the generosity of shoppers and well-wishers during this difficult time.


Visit the JARO showroom for your next handicraft and souvenir shopping spree. Open from Sunday to Thursday, 8am to 5pm. Closed on Friday and Saturday.


Johor Area Rehabilitation Organisation or JARO is located at No. 18, Jalan Sungai Chat, 80100 Johor Baru, Johor. Tel: +607 – 224 5632.

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