Maria Skouras

Maria Skouras (eHomemakers): Maria describes herself as a life-long learner. She earned a BA from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, a Masters of Science degree from New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, and a Master of the Arts from NYU’s Graduate School of Arts and Science in Cultural Sociology. She then worked for seven years as the Senior Policy Analyst in NYU’s Office of Government and Community Affairs. Maria has been an active board member of The Posterus Foundation, a nonprofit based in New York City, studied abroad in Italy, London, China and Hong Kong and traveled extensively through the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. After her fellowship Maria wrote: "Speaking with locals and living in a country is the best way to learn about the real lives of citizens, not just the stories in the mainstream media. I will be more critical of what I read as a result of this experience.”

The Birth of eHomemakers

11 Feb

Chong Sheau Ching, known to friends as Ching Ching or C2, is the founder of eHomemakers (eH) and the Salaam Wanita eco-baskets project.  She completed a Master’s degree in international administration in Vermont and held an international career with the United Nations before returning home to raise her daughter in the 1990s.

Back in Malaysia, C2 became the primary caretaker for her parents and mentally challenged brother.  With these responsibilities and a newborn on the way, C2 needed to work from home.  She applied her love of writing and storytelling to a freelance career as a columnist with Malaysia’s leading English newspaper, The Star.  In her column, C2 ruminated on religion, family relationships, parenting, and other issues.

As a columnist for The Star, C2 balanced her family responsibilities while working from home and she believed other women could do it too.  However, one of the main deterrents was the widespread social stigma against women work from home and raise their children rather than having a more “prestigious” career in an office.

C2 wrote about her personal experiences being disparaged for this in “A Job Only Mothers Can Do.”   Mothers across Malaysia emailed C2 to share their own challenges and to seek advice on how to create more prospects for working from home.  The overwhelming response to the article motivated C2 to find a way to help other women improve their circumstances.

C2 hard at work in her home office

C2 hard at work in her home office

eHomemakers was born out of C2’s vision of using computer technology to empower homemakers to create their own online businesses and to connect with employers through the Internet.  The website is a portal of information to get users started working at home and able to create sustainable, profitable businesses.  The site also features discussion forums to exchange ideas on domestic issues and tips for single parents in areas such as childcare, law, nutrition, health, and financial planning.

Since eH was launched 13 years ago, it has registered over 16,000 users.  The site’s popularity is indication of its value for Malaysia’s citizens and the power of using ingenuity to prosper during difficult times.   Due to the persistence of people like C2, the perception of working from home continues to improve in Malaysia.  Check out eHomemaker’s site here.

Posted By Maria Skouras

Posted Feb 11th, 2011

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