Another Week Beyond – 2241

Dear friends,

Last Monday, 10 October 2022 was World Mental Health Day. The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes mental health as a “basic human right. And it is crucial to personal, community and socio-economic development.” WHO elaborates that it is not just the absence of mental disorders, but good mental health is having a state of mind where we cope well with the stresses of life, learn and work well, and contribute to community. Importantly, mental health is not just determined by psychological and biological factors but by a “complex interplay of individual, social and structural stresses and vulnerabilities.”

A teacher at our child development centre was moved after listening a mother’s heartfelt sharing. Our colleague approached this mother to discuss her child’s progress in school but soon found herself gaining an appreciation of mother’s challenges. Mother shared that she had been under tremendous mental strain the past 18 months and only plucked up enough courage recently to speak with a mental health therapist. The positive experience at therapy has given her the confidence to confide in others and our colleague was someone she trusted.

Mother explained that she was most uncomfortable with the uninvited and unwelcome attention from a male colleague, but no one at work acted on her complaints. When she spoke to her husband about it, they decided that she should hold on to the job until she could find another that paid her just as well if not better. That was not to be and not long after she was unable to cope with the workplace environment and left without having another job.

Hence, there were frequent disagreements about finances which she accepted but found it difficult to cope when the disagreements led to fights about parenting styles, household responsibilities and the quality of their relationship. She experienced a sense of worthlessness which was exacerbated when her husband responded to her suggestion for marriage counselling by staying away from home. A month ago, as she was in much pain and feeling like it was the lowest point in her life, her children noticed and asked if mommy was sick. Their gesture of concern jolted her to seek help the following day. She reckoned her children gave her the courage and strength to pick up the pieces of herself that feels broken.

When we reflected on the mother’s story, we were saddened that she attempted to hang on to a job despite feeling traumatised because her family needed the income. It appeared that this decision strained her marriage in ways she could not cope. Seeking support early from people she trusted may have prevented her mental health from deteriorating.   

Social support is an important preventive factor, and we were heartened that youth in our HeadStrong programme recognise this. At the least session, they articulated the dreams they had for their personal wellbeing and this was how one of them eloquently put it, “My dream is that when I end up spiralling back into a mentally unhealthy state, I will know where and who I can go for support. I dream that I will always have someone to share my stories with because they help me understand myself better, and I will always do the same for others, to hear their stories and to understand them. I dream that we never forget that all of us deserve love and are loved, and we will never stop loving others.”

For peace, community, and love,

Gerard

PAST AWB POSTS

Another Week Beyond 2429 – An Experience of Connectedness and Contentment

by: Chia Jie Min, Community Worker  Last Tuesday evening, Lisfah, our community enabler, and I set up our usual table at the student care centre for the monthly “tabung” (savings) programme at Lengkok Bahru. We waited with anticipation for the usual buzz of mothers dropping in to sit with us, chat and swap stories about community happenings.   That particular day, however, many mothers could not attend. So, it was unusually quiet. Lisfah was looking a little forlorn as she was looking forward to catching up with her neighbours. She always found her conversations with them comforting as they reassured her

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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

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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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PAST AWB POSTS

Another Week Beyond 2429 – An Experience of Connectedness and Contentment

by: Chia Jie Min, Community Worker  Last Tuesday evening, Lisfah, our community enabler, and I set up our usual table at the student care centre for the monthly “tabung” (savings) programme at Lengkok Bahru. We waited with anticipation for the usual buzz of mothers dropping in to sit with us, chat and swap stories about community happenings.   That particular day, however, many mothers could not attend. So, it was unusually quiet. Lisfah was looking a little forlorn as she was looking forward to catching up with her neighbours. She always found her conversations with them comforting as they reassured her

Read more >

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 >