Another Week Beyond – 1940

Dear Friends,

A year ago, we broached the idea that   “Families, not services, lead change” (AWB – 1839) to several families and we are glad that 11 of them have signed up for the Community Independence Project (CII).  These families have been divided into 2 groups and they each received a tablet PC to login onto an online journal that tracks their efforts related to income and savings, health, education and skills, housing, leadership and connections.   CII is a new model of social assistance that focuses on equipping families with social networks, capital and autonomy to improve their lives independently. Families are to meet monthly to support each other and after arranging the first meeting for both groups, we are optimistic that these families will make good progress.

After reiterating that our role was only to arrange for the meeting and to take notes, we stood aside to let the 3 who came to get the meeting going.  Very quickly they started introducing themselves to each other by sharing   personal experiences and stories.  One spoke about having to live at a shelter after her divorce and her challenge of securing accommodation for her children. The wellbeing of their children was a common theme and they all realised that they shared a similar experience of losing a job because they had to attend to their   sick children. Everyone resonated when one of them shared that it was extremely embarrassing and difficult to inform an employer that they needed time off to attend to their sick child.

People were meeting for the first time, but they hit off quickly and started sharing about their job or how they are generating income.  We could hear pride in their voices as people spoke about their endeavours.  One shared about selling anything she could her hands on via different online platforms. Along the way, she learnt that she needed to register with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) but she is now quite adept and is even showing her 10-year-old son the ropes of her entrepreneurial effort.  Another shared that after years as a cleaner, she is finally doing something she enjoys by being in the healthcare sector looking after older persons.

Perhaps, by consciously being inconspicuous, participants did not experience the presence of a helping professional. So, it was encouraging to see people in a social assistance programme speaking about their successes and happy moments confidently instead of articulating a failure or a sad situation to be deserving of assistance.  One participant proudly shared that she found a volunteer run site that gave her access to pre-loved household items as well as bursaries and activities for her children. She attributed this discovery to her resourcefulness and passed the word to her friends. Together they applied for bursaries for their children.

In another context, this mother may have had reservations about sharing such information while attending a social assistance programme for fear that she would be regarded as having a welfare-dependent mentality.  If social assistance is meant to nurture initiative and self-reliance among people, we should be mindful if our programmes have inadvertently conditioned those seeking help to be weak and helpless in our presence.

Enjoy your week.

Gerard

Sadly, those at the bottom of our economic ladder are portrayed as “takers” from society.  But those in our poorest neighborhoods also create jobs and almost all the jobs go to low-income peers. – Mauricio Lim Miller 

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 »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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 >