Diljan and Fadillah had arrived punctually as arranged. They both had a daughter accompanying them and when I suggested that we head for dinner, they politely refused explaining that they had already eaten. I then learnt that they decided to have an early dinner because they thought that they would be too nervous to eat just before the show.
We were on our way to Mediacorp as guests on Night Chat with Susan Ng on 938 NOW so I was a little nervous too but not their daughters who were mighty proud that that their moms would be on radio. Both were also excited to be able to see what a radio station looks like.
Fadillah shared that 10 years ago she was deeply concerned about inhalant use among children in her neighbourhood and decided to reach out to them. She accompanied them to their football games, cheered them on and provided the refreshments. Soon she got to know other parents who shared her concern and as a group, they agreed to look out for each other’s children, and to build a strong relationship with all the children in the neighbourhood.
Back then, she was introduced to Diljan who was trying to start up a tuition programme in the neighbourhood. They then worked together going door-to-door to get the support of other parents. When the programme began, she insisted that all those playing football had to go for tuition as well.
Diljan is proud that the tuition programme is still running and has become an important feature in the neighbourhood that has the support of the government grassroots organisations. Currently, together with 12 volunteers, which include her husband and daughter, she spearheads the distribution of food and other household necessities to families in her neighbourhood. The regular supply of provisions is the result of a partnership she had cultivated with FFFA (Free Food For All), a charity focussing on food security.
At the end of every food distribution exercise, she collects the leftovers to prepare dinner daily for 10 older persons in her neighbourhood. Often, she digs into her own pocket for the ingredients she needs to complete the meal. “They are unable to cook for themselves, so I support them in this way,” she told the listeners.
I too got a chance to speak and listening to Diljan and Fadillah, I reflected that without people like them, we would not be able to fulfil our mission of nurturing safe and vibrant neighbourhoods that support the healthy development of children and youth from low-income families. We are grateful to 938 NOW for amplifying the voices of people who believe that regardless of their personal challenges, they have it within them to care for their neighbours and to strengthen their community.
Toward the end of the show, I was a little lost for words when Susan asked me to articulate a hope I had. So, I am going say it now that my hope is for the voices of the community to be valued and taken seriously by all of us; especially those of us who proclaim to be in the service of others.
Enjoy your week.
“The tongue can paint what the eyes can’t see.” -Chinese Proverb