Another Week Beyond – 2412

Ignite! Is a group of youth studying in institutions of higher learning who share resources,
encourage each other and serve as role models for children in their neighbourhoods. It has been in existence for about 2.5 years and at its peak there were 25 members.

2 weeks ago, when a meeting was called, 3 members showed up and they were concerned that the group would no longer exist if there were no new members. Quickly, they discussed what a recruitment drive could look like and they drew up a collective list of friends they could invite to attend an introductory meeting.

On Wednesday, 20 youths showed up for a breaking-of-fast meal at our office. Famidah, 19 years old prepared a pot of Spaghetti aglio olio and was a little anxious before everyone helped themselves generously and wolfed down their serving. It was the first time she was preparing a meal for a big group, and she was relieved that her efforts were well received.

Famidah attends a mechanical engineering programme at the Institute of Education and when I asked her what the evening was all about, she replied “friendship, laughter and acceptance.” She elaborated that she hardly said a word when she first attended meetings, but she never felt judged. “Oh, what would judgement look like?” I asked. She grimaced and told me it would be the way someone looks when another is talking. She felt that at Ignite! people always listened to each other respectfully and this was a community she wanted to keep alive.

Wilson, 22 years old is reading law and he echoed Famidah by professing to all present that “Ignite! Is a safe place where you can talk about your first job, relationships, school stress and in short, things you probably can’t talk about elsewhere.” He added that diversity and growth are the key aspects of Ignite! and he really values listening to other members of the group. “Whenever I hear the stories, they tell or just their opinions, I am humbled by how people can see a similar situation so differently. By just listening, I find my own perspective on things changing.”

Both Wilson and Famidah live in public rental neighbourhoods but they have different lived experiences, aspirations and challenges. Nonetheless, they both value a safe space where people can talk and listen to each other without feeling judged. They have made some progress in their studies, and they would say that one important reason is just having someone older listen to them whenever they need to talk about school. Right now, they want to be that “older person” for members of Ignite! and younger students in their neighbourhood.

Community is created by the hospitality and generosity that people offer each other. Famidah and Wilson were full of these qualities as they worked together to strengthen Ignite! as a community where they belong and one that belongs to them. We feel blessed to be in the presence of young people who are committed to creating a safe and welcoming environment whenever they gather.

For peace and community,
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

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Another Week Beyond – 2427

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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 >