Marlina, who has been living in a public rental neighbourhood for more than 12 years has recently joined us as a colleague responsible for coordinating programmes where she lives. She told me that securing a full-time job with employment benefits was not something she thought was possible after being a full-time caregiver for many years. Blessed with an outgoing personality, she succeeded in securing contract work, but she revealed that the job seeking process has always shaken her self-confidence.
“I completely understand when other mothers in the neighbourhood are unable to secure work. Interviews can really be intimidating,” said Marlina and so last year when she discovered the Confidence Curriculum by Daughters of Tomorrow (DOT) which is an 8-session programme imparting soft skills and coaching to acclimatise to the workplace, she decided to introduce it to her neighbours.
Last week, participants proudly received their certificates from Mr Eric Chua, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth and Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development. It was the completion of the 2nd run and so far, 34 neighbours have been on the programme which Marlina coordinates with DOT on her own.
Marlina was in touch with DOT way before she joined our staff and so it was not the job but her empathy for her neighbours’ challenges with employment and her strong sense of belonging to her neighbourhood that fuelled her efforts. We appreciate Marlina’s labour of love because it affirms our helping principle that those directly impacted by the issue at hand are best placed to be a part of the solution.
Hence, we continue to invest directly in the leadership efforts of residents in the neighbourhoods we operate by offering training, and stipends for initiating and managing a community project that speaks to them. Marlina tells others that securing a fulltime job is not an overnight process. She credits the experiences from volunteering, ad-hoc jobs, and training programmes in the community for her current confidence and competencies. Her advice for others is to simply get involved with activities in the community.
Elsewhere, 2 mothers planned and organised their neighbourhood’s first Community Tabung, a savings matching programme, which resulted in 21 children having $30 more in their child development account.
Both women have not held a job for several years and by organising the event, they learned to fill up a spreadsheet, scan documents, verify electronic payments, and manage group chats. Importantly, they confidently participated in decision-making meetings with volunteers and other parents in the community.
Working on the Community Tabung has changed their daily routine completely and they are grateful that they have the full support of their husbands who are proud of their development. Both told us that on the first day of training, their husbands took time-off from work to join them for breakfast before dropping them off at our centre.
They are very proud of the new skills they are learning but what drives them to give their best is the opportunity to promote the importance of savings among children and helping them do so. “We know how difficult it is for parents when children need extra money for school and other emergencies, so we do this to help ourselves and families just like us.” We felt most encouraged as their statement reflected the principle that “The people best placed to resolve a problem are those directly involved.”
For peace and community,
Our efforts to build a fairer and more inclusive society cannot be limited to just monetary redistribution by the Government. It must involve the community – to engage the human spirit, to provide personal fulfilment, and to strengthen collective well-being. It must strengthen the culture of responsibility for one another, so that we all feel a sense of duty to each other and not just a right to the benefits of citizenship. – DPM Lawrence Wong