Another Week Beyond – 2022

Dear Friends,

The past 8 weeks were a very busy period for us, but we consider ourselves most fortunate to have been in a position of use to others.  We were not simply attending to the needs of families, but a significant proportion of our energy was spent attending to the numerous offerings of goodwill. The generosity, care and concern that came forth were tremendous and the saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” came to mind.  

As we processed more applications for financial assistance, we got a sense that it was very difficult for people to be asking for help in the first place.  Each had their own story, but a common theme was the pain of failure and feelings of desperation.  What they needed was not just a bit of money to get by but also the reassurance that they will not be judged harshly. Several kept emphasising that what they really wanted was being able to earn their own keep again.  The ability to care for oneself as well as to contribute is critical for our wellbeing.  Being told or having the impression that we cannot contribute must be one of the most painful experiences. 

After being told that they will be receiving some financial assistance, a couple spent a morning painting a peacock and sending it to us via WhatsApp with the explanation, “Everyone must stay united and strong together like the feathers of the peacock.  It is difficult now but like feathers of the peacock, life is beautiful.” Like the many who made offers of goodwill, they wanted to give, and it was a gift we felt really blessed to receive.  

During a time when movement into neighbourhoods were strongly discouraged and regulated, we were still able to deliver food, computers and wifi as well as essentials such as masks mainly because of the mutual care and concern among residents.  Once a resource was dropped off, residents got to work. These residents were also able to meet needs that our organisation does not usually attend to. When we were entrusted with a significant donation of masks that the donors wanted older persons to receive, these residents knew exactly where they lived. 

Like us, the residents who helped are aware of the privilege to be able to contribute.  A 19-year-old who delivers food with his mother, shared that he is constantly worried about the lack of family income but by being able to do something for others, he feels hopeful that his family will be able to overcome their challenges.  His confidence also stems from the enjoyable experience of working closely with his mother to care for others. 

In 3 days, we will try to gradually regain normalcy as we knew it. However, after these past weeks, we know that what was considered normal for the families in our membership is not necessarily a situation we want to maintain. Our focus on food, internet connectivity, employment support and financial assistance for family stability remains essential even as we pick up on work that we had to put on hold. We certainly could do with the continued support of everyone who is in the blessed position to give.

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

Sincerely,

Gerard

What is my life if I am no longer useful to others? – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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 »

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 »

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.

Read More »

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

Read More »

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 >