Another Week Beyond – 2134

Dear friends,

Ellyn joined our after-school programme at 9 years old and she remembers that she was placed 3rd in a 5km race at the East Coast Park that year. She was having a shower when her mother told her that her name was being announced on stage and urged her to hurry up so that she could collect her prize. The occasion was the Streetwise Run, an annual Youth Day Celebration that was part of our calendar from 2001 to 2010. She also remembers learning circus skills and performing for a Sunday afternoon crowd at Toa Payoh and singing “Seasons of Love” from the Broadway musical Rent for President SR Nathan during a fund-raising dinner.

After her “A” Levels, Ellyn took a couple of years off, backpacking around the region but decided to hit the books after that and was glad to secure a place with a distance learning programme at the University of London, majoring in Banking & Finance in 2017.  She received a loan from Mendaki covering 75% of her course fees and worked 40 hours a week in the food and beverage sector to pay for the remaining portion of her course fees as well household expenses. For the past 10 years, she has been living with her grandmother in a 2-room purchased flat and she has been servicing the monthly mortgage and paying for the utilities. 

In 2019, she failed 2 subjects and had to repeat the entire school year.  She was upset and disappointed as she had pay for an additional year of study. Ellyn told us that she was distracted trying to earn more money but ended up adding to her expenses. Nonetheless, she bounced back quickly, scoring well, and progressed to her final year. In 2020, as the pandemic was at its height, jobs in the F & B sector were hit and Ellyn landed a one-year assignment with the Attorney General’s Chambers as an assistant legal executive. It was a stroke of luck that she is most grateful for because unlike many, the pandemic worked for her. Because classes moved online, she was able to take on a full-time day job.

Last Friday, Ellyn sent us a copy of her Certificate of Completion and told us that she has been offered a full-time position as a finance and claims executive and she will start if she clears the background check.  She is now 26 and has regarded Beyond as her “second family” for the past 17 years. She joked that a colleague she used to think of as an “uncle,” she would not call her “grandfather.”

I laughed along with her but then expressed my concern. I enquired if Beyond had made her think less of her own family.  “I am very lucky to have 2 families,” she reassured me. “One that I was born into and one that I chose for myself, and both loved me in different ways.”

Several of the volunteers and staff she encountered are no longer with Beyond but she remembers them fondly and remains in touch with a few. “It was not one person but so many who cared for me, and those experiences meant a lot to me, and I learnt many things.” Curious, I asked her what she would say is the most important lesson she learnt from Beyond and she replied, “It is ok to seek help, it does not mean you are weak, it means you can be humble.”

Wishing you good health and peace of mind.

Sincerely,

Gerard

*Share love, give love, spray love, measure your life in love – Seasons of love…*

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 >