A friend of mine recently paid a visit to one of the local welfare homes for children, and found within herself a renewed sense of appreciation for even the littlest things around her. Having met the group of children in the welfare home, she felt one step closer to understanding the varied people groups in Singapore.
Each year, various organisations around the island offer educational bursaries to children from lower-income families to enable them to cope with the necessary expenditures. These children and their families do not live the luxurious lifestyles that many others are blessed with, but they are able to hold value and meaning to the things they own and the environment they are raised in; they are known to be resilient. Despite facing difficulties, there has been a steady increase in the proportion of students performing better than expected.
Apart from differences in socio-economic statuses, there are children whose quality of childhood is hindered by dysfunctional familial environments. Children in welfare homes may have had a background of abuse, neglect, abandonment or have parents who have been incarcerated. A voluntary welfare organization like The Singapore Children’s Society alone reaches out to about 66,000 children, youths and families every year, with hopes to bring happiness and relief to children especially.
Children living in welfare homes have an experience of living with many other children and sharing in the various chores and activities arranged for them. Enrichment classes, field trips and small festival celebrations are some of the things the children are part of as well. With the support and guidance from the in-house volunteers, counsellors and staff, the children are shown the care and love they require to enable a smooth progression in their childhood.
When asked about their stay in the home, some answered saying that although they miss their family members, they are really glad to have made many friends there. Others also mentioned that they enjoy the times when student volunteers interact with them and organise fun activities on their monthly or weekly visits.
In general, when Singaporean children relate their feelings towards Children’s Day celebrations, or the significance of Children’s Day to them, it is centered on receiving gifts, having parties in schools and having a day off to indulge in leisurely activities. However, what society’s underprivileged children want usually extends beyond monetary and materialistic measures.
They thirst for genuine love and understanding, and individuals who can bring such warmth to them impact them in an immeasurable manner, that could possibly spark a new hope or zest for life within them, so that they, like all other children, have a chance of attaining a certain dream they have been holding on to.
To find out more about how you can help these children, go here.
By Debra Sherni