Feature on The Pride – Humble beginnings to Law Student

IN THE NEWS

Feature on The Pride – Humble beginnings to Law Student

Mark (not his real name), 20, has had a tough start in life but is surprisingly matter-of-fact about the immense difficulties thrown at him.

For as long as he could remember, Mark’s parents were in prison. His mother, a repeat drug offender, was in and out of prison throughout his childhood and his father was serving a longer sentence for a crime Mark told the Pride that he didn’t care to know about.

He was four years old when he learned why his parents were never around. A year later, when most other children his age were spending time playing and learning about life, he finally got to see his parents — for just twenty minutes every month with his grandmother.

“My grandmother is the only family I have. She’s not my biological grandmother, but actually the godmother of my mother. They had met in a pub years ago and became close, and she took on the role of caring for me when my parents were incarcerated,” Mark, who is now a regular in the Republic of Singapore Navy, shared.

When he turned seven, Mark became a client of Life Community Services Society (LCSS) under its Friends of Children and Youth (FOCY) programme. It helps children and youths from ages 7 to 19, who have at least one parent presently or formerly incarcerated, to overcome their circumstances. Through home visits, mentoring sessions and workshops that focus on character, values, social-emotional support and life skills, the charity hopes to reduce the possibility of juvenile delinquency, drug abuse, school drop-out rates and issues relating to poor mental health.

Eventually, Mark managed to turn his life around, and went on to complete a Law & Management diploma at Temasek Polytechnic, a course he chose because he liked debating. It was during this time that Mark opened up to the community around him. “I learned that being vulnerable is a good thing. People understand you better and can address the problem better.”

Today, he has friends from church, polytechnic and the Navy who know about his background. “I do have more friends now compared to when I was growing up. I’ve met more people…and learnt whom I can trust.”

Mark plans to further his studies with a degree in law or social work, intending to study part-time after completing two years in the Navy. “It’s meaningful seeing lives transformed. I enjoy interacting with people.”

Read the full story here on The Pride.

– Article Courtesy of Lianne Ong, The Pride – Singapore Kindness Movement
– Read the Original Story here

Volunteering Benefits You

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Volunteering Benefits You

“Some may feel that volunteering requires a lot of energy and time, but surprisingly you will find it benefits you too.”

Han Hui Ying, a sales and marketing assistant manager, is a volunteer mentor in Life Community Services Society, under the ‘Friends of Children and Youth’ programme. Weekly, she visits her mentee to share a meal, finds out about his week, guides him with his homework and also any challenges he might be facing.  

“My hope is to bring much positive energy to children from underprivileged backgrounds.

I am touched that my mentee trusts me enough to share his life with me. Children from vulnerable backgrounds might not receive adequate care and concern from their families, and their family circumstances are challenging. This causes a lot of stress in them, which may cause them to act out or shut others out. I am just glad to see that my mentee has so much vibrant energy, openness and hope towards life.

He also has ambitions for himself. On my visits, I would encourage and guide him on ways to get there, and also to work hard and excel. I believe these children need positive affirmations, just like any other children, just like us adults too.

It is great to work hand in hand with Life Community caseworkers. The child benefits having more role models and consistent adult figure in his/her life. If I encounter any difficulties, I know there is always Life Community’s caseworkers or fellow volunteers I can receive support and advice from. 

 Some may feel that volunteering requires a lot of energy and time, but surprisingly you will find it benefits you too.

I find my source of energy from my mentee’s progress. To know that they trust you and you are helping them, I feel that it is very meaningful.”

– Article and Photo Courtesy of LianHe ZaoBao
– Read the Original Story here

Singapore Olympics Weightlifter as a Mentor

IN THE NEWS

Singapore Olympics Weightlifter as a Mentor

“After I turned 29, I started to have a desire to do things that are meaningful, and found EduGrow on giving.sg. I have always enjoyed interacting with children and with EduGrow, I hope to encourage this group of children to excel in life. Once a week, I will spend 2-3 hours with my mentees. Being a mentor does not take up a lot of time, but it has a huge potential to be impactful and meaningful.”
The first to represent Singapore in the Olympics Female Weightlifting Category 6 years ago (London Olympics 2012), Helena Wong is now giving back to society, as a mentor for children and giving them a listening ear under the Edugrow for Brighter Tomorrows programme.

“After I turned 29, I started to have a desire to do meaningful things, and found EduGrow on giving.sg. I have always enjoyed interacting with children and with EduGrow, I hope to encourage this group of children to excel in life. Once a week, I will spend 2-3 hours with my mentees. Being a mentor does not take up a lot of time, but it has a huge potential to be impactful and meaningful.”

After work, she would head to a flat in marine parade to mentor Farah*, who is 11 years old, and her sister, Hana*, 10 years old. She would bring them to the nearby library to borrow books to read, or to walk at east coast park.

“I will listen to whatever they want to talk about. I am not there to lecture or play a teacher’s role. What they need is someone that can be there for them, and to care for them. Should the opportunity arise, I will teach them using my life experiences.”

Helena recalled an experience where she knew she had made some positive impact as a role model in her mentees – Farah had picked up litter that her neighbour threw on the ground, saying she knows Helena does not like the act of littering.

She felt even more touched when the children’s parents invited her over for a meal during Hari Raya. She believes that parents do love their children but due to some complications and challenges, they are unable to spend much time with their children.

To be able to help the family, be someone that the children can talk to and seek guidance/support from, she feels that her time spent has been very meaningful.

My life as a Social Worker

IN THE NEWS

My life as a Social Worker

“People might not understand their background, the environment and circumstances these children grew up in. Most of them lack their parents’ companion and care, and this sets them back compared to others. However, I believe they all have their potential and with encouragement and guidance from the right people around them, they can still achieve their goals when they are adults.”

Gabriel Lee has been a social worker with Life Community since he graduated with a degree in marketing. He decided to pursue a career in the social sector instead, hoping to guide/mentor children and youths from underprivileged backgrounds.

He handles cases of children and youths, aged 12-19 years old, under the Friends of Children and Youth program. This program serves beneficiaries whose parents are presently/formerly incarcerated.

Recalling one incident when he first started, “One of the children told me I will give up on him soon”. But Gabriel never did.

“I sincerely wanted to help him, and I wanted him to know this, that someone cares. Slowly over time, we built trust which changed everything. He gradually became more responsible. He started to care for his siblings and had plans to improve himself. Even though this child has graduated from our program, he still remembers our time together. Seeing him grow and improve so much brings me much satisfaction. It is why I am doing what I do.”

Truth be told, youths have their own thinking and peer influences, and sometimes they disappear and us caseworkers have a hard time contacting them. However, we understand their situations, and still try to reach out to them in whatever ways we can. We hope through this, they will know that someone has not given up on them and hope to guide them on the correct path in life.

My wish is for society to be understanding and not label them quickly. With guidance and a helping hand given, change is possible.”

Life Community provides our children and youths case workers to conduct monthly house visitations, workshops and activities to build character and life skills, provide mentoring and guidance, as well as food rations.

Update in 2020

Today Gabriel in his seventh year with Life Community and is as passionate as ever in what he does.

He is now the Assistant Manager of Friends of Children & Youth program, mentors a group of caseworkers under him, and looks forward to seeing more children and youths’ lives being transformed.

– Article and Photo Courtesy of LianHe ZaoBao
– Read the Original Story here

I have no regrets leaving the corporate world

IN THE NEWS

I have no regrets leaving the corporate world

“With guidance, we hope they will break out of their existing cycles, and that they will also know that they can choose different, better choices in life.”

To help the children break out of their current life circumstances and avoid going down the wrong path, Life Community’s CEO, Ms. Lam Moi Kwai, gave up her high-paying corporate job three years ago to join the organization.

She firmly believes that the decision to switch careers was the right one.

“These children may lack the warmth of a complete family since one and/or both of their parents are incarcerated. These families also often face financial problems – Usually one of the parents have to make a living and as a result, work much longer hours, or 2 jobs. This leaves them highly stressed, and with no time to take care of the child.

It then becomes easier for the child to feel neglected, and go astray without loving and careful supervision from their families. Various research and studies on children from vulnerable backgrounds also do show this trend.

Here at Life Community, we have a programme, called Friends Of Children and Youth, which helps children and youths with one and/or both parents who are incarcerated. In this programme, we have caseworkers and volunteer mentors who will visit our children regularly, to help them develop holistically, as well as to distribute food rations.

With guidance, we hope they will break out of their existing cycles, and also know that they can choose different, better choices in life.”

– Article and Photo Courtesy of LianHe ZaoBao
– Read the Original Story here.