Another Week Beyond – 2019

Dear Friends,

We continued to enable internet connectivity and have pushed out another 40 computers to students who needed them. Digital inclusion is social inclusion and especially now, when it facilitates the strong social connections that are so important for our wellbeing.  Internet connectivity among our members will be uneven for a while more, even as we work at resolving the issue for the near and longer term.   As we provide devices to meet immediate needs, we are also working closely with IMDA and MOE to get our members onto government digital inclusion programmes.

Some members who had a head start with internet connectivity are those on our Community Independence Initiative project.  Last October (AWB -1940), they were issued tablets to monitor their income and personal development.  They are now reasonably proficient with the device and meeting online this week was a breeze. It was also a breath of fresh air that lifted spirits for members of the group.

A father of four teens has been working as a private-hire driver and a security guard.  Currently he has gone into security work full-time which means being requested to show up at least 3 times a week.  It is still a part-time job, but he reckons it is better than driving around for 3 hours and drawing a fare of $20 which does not cover car rental and petrol.  He shared that there is too much competition   because many white-collar workers have their fingers in the pie.  He added that these workers are currently employed but participating in the gig economy as a back-up plan in case they get retrenched. “Aiyah, I can’t do office work but now office workers take my job,” this father reflected wistfully.

Another participant lost her cleaner and play assistant jobs because the places that hired her  closed.  She thought that she could still hold on to her graveyard shift at a 24-hour convenience store but that closed too. “Things come in 3 lah, so now something new can come up,” was her hopeful posture.  A storekeeper in the group then assured her that he will speak to his boss about an opening because   the company had lost many   employees from Malaysia who are unable to leave their country.  This offer of help lifted everyone’s spirit as the opportunity appeared viable and it even attracted the interest of the father in security work as he wanted to be working more days.

The optimism and never-say-die attitude among the many low wage workers is admirable and as such, many take on 2 or more jobs to make ends meet.  Jobs where wages may fluctuate and often do not come with employment benefits. As we continued calling our members this week, many told us that they have been warned by their employers that their wages will drop when businesses reopen.  It has also come to our attention that gross family income often comes from small contributions made by different members of the household.  The efforts of teenagers, grandparents and parents add to the rice pot which is now empty because none of them have work.

Wage work pays from $5 to $10 an hour and many told us that with overtime, they take home about $50 to $70 a day.  Hence, families have been getting by because of the availability of long workdays with responsibilities that cannot be fulfilled working from home.  When we listen to all this, we cannot help wishing that the employment conditions of low-wages workers will improve soon.  The work we do does not command the same amount of wages, but it should at least command a level of respect that safeguards one’s health and the choice to call it a day after 8 hours of labour.

As of today, our Covid-19 Family Assistance Fund has   committed $ 462,370 to help 398 families get over this period. We will continue systematically to reach more families.

Wishing you and all at home, good health and peace of mind.

Sincerely,

Gerard

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them. – Dalai Lama

PAST AWB POSTS

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

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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,

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Another Week Beyond – 2420

Community offers the promise of belonging and calls for us to acknowledge our interdependence. To belong is to act as an investor, owner, and creator of this place. – Peter Block In 2021, as we were trying to get activities in the community up and running again following the gradual relaxation of the COVID-19 safe-distancing rules, we met 10 youths who were mighty pleased to see us. They were bored stiff and were ready to join any activity that we introduced. Initially, they helped with the distribution of food and other household essentials, and they surprised themselves when they concluded

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Another Week Beyond – 2419

Change is hard. It is not something everyone deals with well.   We discovered this when we spoke to 4 young people who had to relocate to new homes (AWB-2417 dated Friday, April 26, 2024}.  They had to leave their ageing flats in Henderson and move to new homes. It was a change they were not looking forward to.  But such change is not only often necessary, but it is also a good way to shake things up and create a better life situation.  To help spin what was to some a negative experience into something positive, we took it upon

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Another Week Beyond – 2418

As Wednesday was Labour Day, we thought we’d share Salleh’s story in honour of all workers. This is also a timely reminder to ourselves to value and appreciate those among us whose hard work has made our lives easier in one way or another.  53-year-old delivery rider Salleh used to be a Chief Steward at a hotel, supervising the cleaning of crockery… While the job was stable, it was not fulfilling, “No matter how hard I work and how many problems I solve, my hours and pay never change.” So, when the health of his parents started failing, he quit.

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Another Week Beyond – 2417

Four friends aged 17 to 20 years old were telling us that their flats would be demolished in a year or so and they would be relocating to a different public rental neighbourhood. One of them seemed rather distressed but when we asked if he would be badly affected by the move, he clarified that he was living a few blocks away and was not affected. He was troubled that his friends were moving away and was thinking that it would only be a matter of time before he had to move to a different neighbourhood too. These young men

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PAST AWB POSTS

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 >