Another Week Beyond 1811

Dear Friends,

Rose, not her real name is 16 and doing reasonably well in school. She is looking forward to her O level examinations this year as passing well will give her a chance to continue pursuing her studies in Singapore.    As a foreign student there is the issue of higher fees, but she cannot imagine returning to Indonesia alone if she does not get her student pass renewed.  Rose lives with her mother, 2 half-brothers, their grandmother and her step-father in a modest 2-room rental flat.  Her mother is in Singapore on a dependent pass, but she certainly would not want mom returning to Indonesia with her because she cannot live with the thought of taking mom away from 4 others who need her love and care.  The possibility of being separated from her family frightens her but for now she has been able to transform the fear into a steely determination to succeed.

Last week, we spoke to 3 other youths aged 19, 21 and 23.   Two   siblings who were born in Indonesia have been in the country since they were 5 and the other born in Malaysia has been here since he was 2.  Unlike Rose, their families could not keep up with the school fees and they dropped out in primary school. After which, they spent their days as care-givers for their younger siblings who have Singapore citizenship.  These youths spoke English reasonably well and they told us that not being in school meant that they had to find other ways of picking up the language. They often looked out for    opportunities to learn the language or other skills offered by volunteers and welfare organisations.  They were more than aware that making a living would be challenging but remained optimistic. However, what moved us was the pride they had in being responsible care-givers for their sibling and ailing relatives. To have cared well for a family member was a duty and purpose that made life worth living.

More than a third of citizen marriages in 2017 involved transnational couples and we frequently encounter challenges arising from them.  Population in Brief 2017. For the past 2 years, the sole purpose of a 30-year-old mother from Bangladesh was saving enough for a return flight to Singapore so that she gets to be with her child for a few hours a day. She was awarded joint custody following her divorce but as she no longer has a dependent pass, the child can only live with her ex-husband.  Thankfully when she is visiting, a woman from the Philippines who was once in a similar situation puts her up. Perhaps, we should say props her up as this friend is now living with her children and making ends meet as a housekeeper and a seamstress; a reality that encourages her to no end.

 

Stephen Hawking, passed away on Wednesday aged 76. This quote from him seems apt here, “Here are the most important pieces of advice that I’ve passed on to my children. One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet, Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is rare and don’t throw it away.”

 

Enjoy your week.

Gerard

PAST AWB POSTS

Another Week Beyond 2428 – The Making of a Youth Leader

By: Nina, Community Relations I met Atiqah ten years ago when I was a Community Worker. It was at a photography workshop we had organized for youths. She was a shy, soft-spoken 16-year-old. Her family had only recently moved in, so she didn’t know any other youths in the neighborhood yet. Throughout the few sessions we held, she mostly kept to herself, except when she offered to help me with minor tasks. Despite her discomfort being around others, she always showed up when invited to our programmes. I always admired Atiqah’s quiet determination and was pleased to see her slowly

Read More »

Another Week Beyond – 2427

No Wealth, No Health? Written by: Pei Ling, Community Relations How often do you find yourself in this situation? You’re unwell or in pain, and it’s been going on for while. But you choose not to see a medical practitioner because you feel you cannot afford it. This is a common scenario amongst Singapore’s financially-challenged – families living in rental public housing. And this is what happened to Ismail. When I visited Ismail on a routine follow-up, he was limping and clearly in pain. He told me he had a slipped disc. I asked about the medical treatment he was

Read More »

Another Week Beyond 2426 – Grizzly to Teddy

by Wilson, Community Worker Grizzly to Teddy During one of our recent learning programmes, one of the kids who attended was an often moody, sometimes truculent 8-year-old.  Let’s call him “Teddy.” Our expectations of Teddy were, from experience, tempered. How well he participated in our activities and interacted with others depended on his disposition from week to week. At this particular session, Teddy was what we had come to describe as “his usual self” – shouting vulgarities and being disruptive. He risked injury by playing with a sliding door, even after being asked by a volunteer to stop. In fact,

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Another Week Beyond 2425 – Do you see me? Do you hear me?

by Nina, Community Relations Do you see me? Do you hear me? Last Saturday, we held a Learning Journey for members of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO). This is an immersive journey we offer to interested parties who are keen to understand how   communities in public rental housing live, work and play. Our 19 YPO guests were led on a Community Walkabout by 11 Community Guides – each a resident of Lengkok Bahru of varying ages. Their task was to lead our visitors through shared spaces in the neighborhood, while revealing the purpose and character of each area visited. After

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Community, a place to care and grow (Another Week Beyond – 2424)

By Grace Yew, Community Worker “Pergi, jom” (Let’s go!). We go back to office with you to help you carry all these. You one person, how to carry all alone?” Fauziah insisted as she walked to the side of the lorry, ready to jump onto the passenger’s seat. Her husband who had helped her to hoist two huge tables and fifteen stools onto the lorry followed.  I laughed in disbelief.   It was 6 pm and Fauziah, had been out since ten in the morning, supporting 15 children to set up a community gathering below their flats that boasted carnival-style games

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Another Week Beyond – 2423

“Oh no, more bee hoon,” a mother uttered half embarrassed. “We need to coordinate better the next time,” she added. Our colleague who was present at this children’s birthday party organized by neighbours quickly responded, “Hey, we are having a been hoon feast prepared in 3 different ways and it’s great to have 3 flavours!” The generosity, hospitality and ownership displayed by the organizers were the indicators of success that we sought, and these were already in abundance. For example, a young man appeared in his military uniform to check that the cake his mother had baked on his behalf

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Reconnecting with Gratitude 

2 weeks ago, our senior advisor Gerard received an email titled “Reconnecting with Gratitude” from someone who volunteered with us 20 years ago.  She told Gerard that she got his email from a friend of a friend and wanted to thank him in person for what he had said to her then. “I recall what you said to me that has impacted my life to this day,” was how she had put it.  She wrote that she was helping with a juggling programme where she accompanied the children to performances and as she was driving them back to the Centre

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Another Week Beyond – 2421

“Don’t bring your hooligan attitudes from your neighbourhood into ours!” A mother screamed at a teenager as he continued taunting her from a distance. Just a few minutes ago, the teenager and his friends were enjoying a game of street soccer against opponents below 12 years old.  His friends and he were visibly bigger and those watching were rooting for the “home team” of younger boys.   When spectators accused one of the older boys of unsporting rough play, play stopped, and angry words were exchanged all around. Recognising that they were not welcome, the older boys left the court grudgingly,

Read More »

PAST AWB POSTS

Another Week Beyond 2428 – The Making of a Youth Leader

By: Nina, Community Relations I met Atiqah ten years ago when I was a Community Worker. It was at a photography workshop we had organized for youths. She was a shy, soft-spoken 16-year-old. Her family had only recently moved in, so she didn’t know any other youths in the neighborhood yet. Throughout the few sessions we held, she mostly kept to herself, except when she offered to help me with minor tasks. Despite her discomfort being around others, she always showed up when invited to our programmes. I always admired Atiqah’s quiet determination and was pleased to see her slowly

Read more >

Another Week Beyond – 2427

No Wealth, No Health? Written by: Pei Ling, Community Relations How often do you find yourself in this situation? You’re unwell or in pain, and it’s been going on for while. But you choose not to see a medical practitioner because you feel you cannot afford it. This is a common scenario amongst Singapore’s financially-challenged – families living in rental public housing. And this is what happened to Ismail. When I visited Ismail on a routine follow-up, he was limping and clearly in pain. He told me he had a slipped disc. I asked about the medical treatment he was

Read more >

Another Week Beyond 2426 – Grizzly to Teddy

by Wilson, Community Worker Grizzly to Teddy During one of our recent learning programmes, one of the kids who attended was an often moody, sometimes truculent 8-year-old.  Let’s call him “Teddy.” Our expectations of Teddy were, from experience, tempered. How well he participated in our activities and interacted with others depended on his disposition from week to week. At this particular session, Teddy was what we had come to describe as “his usual self” – shouting vulgarities and being disruptive. He risked injury by playing with a sliding door, even after being asked by a volunteer to stop. In fact,

Read more >