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March 2010


The official publication of the Methodist Welfare Services

Unveiling a current yet worrying social issue


More than just breadwinners for the family


Schizophrenia among youth should not be ignored



This may not be a common sight in Singapore, but does that mean there are no Singaporeans living in poverty?

4 26

Think you know all about this mental illness? Misconceptions debunked.

Find out why it is important for fathers to get more involved in parenting.


A dedication to social concerns is part of the lifelong journey of discipleship.

Heart Of The Matter Elderly Services

4 Is Poverty Legitimate in Singapore? 8 Who Exactly Are the Poor in Singapore?

Childrens Services

20 Volunteers at CMH 24 Event Overview

In the Spotlight

is when the Heartwarmers, a group of volunteers, are already busy preparing breakfast for residents at MWS Christalite Methodist Home

12 Mom, Its Telling Me to Jump!

Family Services

26 Wesley Walks the Talk 31 Tell Us What You Think!


16 Fathering Not Enough!

Your feedback is important to us. Please email your comments to Michelle Tan at

Editors Note
Eyes of Compassion
Poverty in Singapore may not be as widespread or as visible as in other countries. But there is still a group of people in our city-state that is living near subsistence levels. Moreover, they dont seem to be able to climb out of their impoverished situations. In recent years, there has been an increase in financial and other assistance schemes offered to low-income families in Singapore. Most are able to benefit but some would need these benefits for the long haul. They are the chronically poor. At Methodist Welfare Services (MWS), we have been serving some of these chronically poor families and individuals through our family service centres and homes. This year, the Methodist Church in Singapore celebrates its 125th Anniversary by giving and caring for this often unseen and unheard group in the communitythe chronically poor. MWS will spearhead this initiative which aims to provide funds and friendship to families and individuals all over Singapore. As we read and understand more about their plight, I urge you to read with eyes of compassion that will stir us to acts of love. We just need to do our acts of love a little at a time and be prepared to take a little longer time. Jenny Bong
Editor-in-chief MWS Executive Director

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MWS Cares for All

Methodist Welfare Services is the social concerns arm of The Methodist Church in Singapore and a registered charity

Children & Youth

DJoy Childrens Centre Daybreak Student Care iConnect Student Care Sembawang FSC Student Care Centre MWS Bursary Programme Affordable quality child care and student care services are provided for the holistic nurturing and development of each young life. Annual bursaries are awarded to school children from disadvantaged families.

Covenant FSC Daybreak FSC Sembawang FSC Tampines FSC Each of the four Family Service Centres (FSC) offers advice and support to families in distress or need. Core programmes include casework and counselling, information and referral, preventive and developmental programmes.

Bethany Methodist Nursing Home Christalite Methodist Home Agape Methodist Hospice (AMH Homecare) Residential long-term care and physiotherapy for the frail elderly. The destitute receive healthcare, counselling and a safe haven. Medical and nursing support are offered through AMH Homecares home care service.

Heart of the Matter Is


Michelle Tan
Executive (Communications)

Legitimate in Singapore?

As some people question the very existence of poverty in Singapore, we seek to show the face of poverty in this country. Although quite different from the images of deprivation in less developed countries, it is nevertheless worrying, especially when it tends to stretch over generations.

Who Gets Richer

In 2009, Singapore had 61,000 millionaires1. And a year before that, it was the seventh nation worldwide with the fastest-growing population of high rollers2. The number of affluent Singaporeans is expected to increase with the recovering economy. And as the rich and successful become increasingly affluent, do the poor become better-off too? Perhaps not. As Singapore progresses and the economy thrives, the less fortunate in the society may continue to be marginalised. Some are unable to enjoy the same benefits derived from the booming economy, unlike the majority of Singaporeans. Hence, the income gap continues to widen between the rich and the poor in this city-state. In a common measure of income or wealth inequality, Gini coefficient, Singapore achieved the highest placing when compared to other Asian countries. The higher the Gini Index, the greater the inequality. And in Singapores case, its Gini Index was 48.1 (as of 2008)3. Even the United States of America and United Kingdom had a lower Gini Index of 40.8 and 36 respectively. After effects of globalisation On top of an income divide, there is a knowledge and resource divide too. Irene Ng, Assistant Professor, Department of Social Work, National University of Singapore, attributes the main cause to globalisation, which has

impacted the market system. Those who cannot afford to have access to technology, which is a necessity in this day and age, ultimately become more disadvantaged. The latter will lag further and further behind, thus making them more disadvantaged. Couple this with a more open market where there are job exports to low cost locations and the influx of low cost foreign workers, the lower-skilled in Singapore will be offered lower wages and fewer job opportunities, said Irene. These issues in turn place the poor in a vulnerable and precarious position. Irene is worried about the implications of this inequality between the rich and the poor. Inequality breeds discontent and divides the people into two camps. Moreover, the long-term effect could be generational poverty, said Irene. When the children continue to be poor due to the lack of access to knowledge, they will remain at the bottom. It is a vicious poverty cycle that many social workers in Singapore are trying to break.

Spores rich list takes a hit, Straits Times, 26 June 2009 (http://www. 395649.html) Singapore Now Has 77,000 Millionaires, My Paper, 26 June 2008 ( The World Factbook, Central Intelligence Agency, https://www.cia. gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2172.html

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No shoes, but rich compared to one with no feet It is human nature to make comparisons. A millionaire will compare his wealth with a billionaire, and wonder how the latter achieved it. As for the poor, they might not compare their state of poverty among themselves, but the public does. Many believe that the poor in Singapore are more fortunate than those from third world countries. There are no slums within our community and no beggars living on the streets. There are very few reported cases of those who die from hunger. So are they really in need of help? Definitely. The poor and needy are struggling in relative poverty, which means that their financial resources fall below the average income threshold within Singapores economy. Hence, even though they might fare better than those in the third world countries, they are considered worse off than others in their own society. Gains in the countrys wealth may not have been evenly distributed across the population and thus, the poor are receiving the short end of the stick. They have great difficulty surviving on a day-to-day basis. Worse, they have no means of getting out of the poverty cycle.

Irene Ng believes that there are multiple barriers for the poor to get out of the cycle. They lack skills to survive in a technologically-intensive society and have no or limited access to technology. They are also bound by physical and psychoemotional limitations, on top of family issues, she said.

What they need is someone who values them. When you first value them, they will then value themselves. In turn, they will desire to do something valuable for themselves.
Throughout the Bible, Gods people are called to look after those who are overlooked by the society. Today, the poor amongst us are those who have been overlooked by societal systems. So in the face of this structural disadvantage against low wage earners today, it is time to stop harping on helping the deserving poor, said Irene. It is no longer productive to categorise them into the deserving poor or undeserving poor. While the poor needs to bite the bullet and work hard to achieve success, the public needs to help and support this marginalised group.

Deserving and Undeserving Poor?

The poor in Singapore are also sometimes differentiated into the deserving and undeserving. If it seems like they are not working hard enough, they are then deemed to be undeserving of help. Although it is true that there is no excuse for the poor to slack, Irene feels that help from society is necessary too. Joachim Lee, Director of MWS Tampines Family Service Centre (TFSC), has witnessed those who lack motivation or courage to look for a job, but through intensive counselling, many have come through and are now providing for their families. The initial negative mindset could be attributed to many reasons, not just sheer laziness, like many might assume. Irene believes that they could have experienced too many failings and setbacks in the past. Its a cyclical trap. As you get discouraged, you accomplish less, and hence you lose touch with the normal way of doing things and become increasingly less competent, she said. Irene relates a real-life conversation she had with a lady who ran a churchbased soup kitchen in America. She asked the volunteer: By giving free food to the needy, arent you worried that they will just keep coming back for more and not be motivated to find work? The lady replied: What they need is someone who values them. When you first value them, they will then value themselves. In turn, they will desire to do something valuable for themselves.

Bridging the Gap

Joachim believes in a strong focus on the younger generation to turn the situation around for the poor. It is sometimes difficult trying to change the parents mindset, so we work on the kids instead. We encourage the children to come along for counselling sessions, he said. In TFSC, the 44th Street Childrens Club introduced a money-wise management class for Upper Primary children. It is meant to help them grasp the concept of money and to learn to use it wisely. It is necessary to instill in them this virtue while they are still young.

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But this does not mean that adults are left to their own devices. There are programmes and initiatives in place, be it started by the government or non-profit organisations, to provide them with opportunities to be financially-independent. The Workforce Development Agency (WDA) introduced its scheme, Skills Programme for Upgrading and Resilience (SPUR), to scale up training programmes to help people gain a competitive edge in the job market and strengthen their capabilities to prepare for economic upturn. Joachim and his team of social workers often encourage the poor families to upgrade their skills or learn new ones with SPUR. This will enable them to seek better-paying jobs, thus providing more for the family. TFSC also frequently links up with WDA for job opportunities. The Centre has also recently started a financial resilience support group for poor families to share new tips on stretching the dollar. Youll be surprised how simple things like buying cheaper fish can help them save a few bucks and make them happy, said Joachim. It is also a great platform for them to know that they are not alone and they can help ease one anothers troubles. Realistically, we are living in a knowledge- and technologicallyintensive world, and this fact will not change. Irene believed that the poor, especially the younger generation, needs to be educated on the relevant skills and knowledge that the present market values, so that they do not lag behind. There is then a higher chance of them breaking the poverty cycle and carving a brighter future for themselves. UV


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Who Exactly Are the

Michelle Tan
Executive (Communications)

The poor in Singapore are not homogeneous. They experience different degrees of hardship and are faced with various types of circumstances. We highlight the groups of less fortunate people that have sought help from one of our four family service centres in the past year.

Sole Guardian of Grandchildren
Grandchildrens parents abandoned family or incarcerated Not financially-able to support grandchildrens education and other living expenses Too old and frail to look after young children
An elderly couple, both in their 70s, is retired. One day, their son and his wife disappeared from home, leaving their two children with the couple. At that old age, they have the added responsibility of taking care of their school-going grandchildren. They are unable to cope financially. They are also worried about negative peer influence on the children. Moreover, they have to apply for legal guardianship so that the children can enjoy the usual benefits.

Sick and Frail

Suffering from health problems

Living alone with no income Too old to work or be employed Children not supporting financially (e.g. jobless, missing) Family members under his/her care
Mr Teo, 65 years old, lives alone in a one-room HDB rental flat. He was a taxi driver but ever since he got into a road accident, he has been unable to walk without any mobility aid. In addition, he now has no income to sustain his monthly expenses. He feels helpless as he has no family or close friends who can help to tide him over this crisis.

Inability to foot healthcare and hospital bills Children not supporting financially (e.g. jobless, missing) Children unable to care for him/her Family members under his/her care
Mrs Sundramuthy, 60, is a housewife and only understands Tamil. Her husband, also in his 60s, does not work as he suffers from a mental condition. Their son, 32, was the familys sole breadwinner but was recently diagnosed as mentally-ill. He had to take a leave of absence for at least a year. Mrs Sundramuthy has to look for a job to feed both her husband and son, but is limited by her language deficiency.


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Single Parent with Children
Divorced or incarcerated spouse Primary caregiver for children No income if children requires round-the-clock care No one to look after children if he/she works
Madam Lee, 40, is a single parent of three children, aged from eight to 15 years old. They live in a rental flat and she was working in an events management company. However, nine months ago, she was certified unfit to work due to a chronic medical condition. With no income, she had to rely on relatives and her limited savings to survive and provide for her kids.

in Singapore?
*Names have been changed to protect their privacy.

Middle-aged Couple with Children

Children are dependent as they are still studying Grown children are unable to work due to mental or physical disability Worry about schooling childrens increasing expenses (e.g. technology, food, utilities, tuition) Usually uneducated; no paper qualifications for better-paying jobs Struggle in an increasingly skilled- and knowledgebased society
Mrs Tan, a housewife in her 30s, looks after two kids, aged five and seven. Mr Tan, in his late 30s, was recently retrenched and had to settle for a job as a cleaner, earning $1,000 a month. They live in a rental flat and do not own basic furniture like sofa, dining table and study table. They are worried that they are not able to provide for their childrens education as they grow older.

Young Couple with Children

Married young and had children without proper family planning Husband usually the sole breadwinner with wife as full-time housewife Usually has two or more children Too costly to place all the kids in childcare/infantcare
Mrs Ahmad is 26, and a full-time housewife and mother to her four kids. Their age ranges from three to seven years old. Her husband is an O Levels dropout and after being retrenched a few years ago, he has been dabbling in odd jobs ever since. She wants to get a part-time job to relieve some of her financial burdens, but she needs to look for an affordable childcare centre before she can start work.


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Childrens Services

Its Telling Me to
Jane Chan


John Nash Junior, a brilliant British economist and mathematician was a victim of schizophrenia. In the movie A Beautiful Mind, actor Russell Crowe took on the role of this real-life genius and portrayed the disorder most convincingly as he grappled with the devastating effects of endless hallucinations and the inability to anchor himself in any kind of reality. The Youth can often be a victim of this debilitating mental illness. The Institute of Mental Health debunks some misconceptions of schizophrenia, a top ten health problem in Singapore, and seeks to educate the public about the importance of early identification.

Spot changes in behavior early
It is unlikely that someone would develop the psychotic symptoms overnight. The period when subtle changes and disturbances occur is known as the prodrome. It may include thinking difficulties, mood changes (depressed, anxious or irritable) and withdrawn behaviour. The person might be distressed and baffled over these changes, not knowing where to seek help. Research has shown that late treatment of schizophrenia often leads to poor prognosis and a higher rate of relapse. As the old adage goes: prevention is better than cure. The key is early identification and intervention. Thus, it is vital to investigate schizophrenic prodrome as this will enable us to identify specific risk factors that mark the transition to psychosis.

What images does your mind conjure up when you come across the term psychotic? Some might think of psychopaths as people with violent tendencies, or are serial killers such as those portrayed in Hollywood thrillers like Silence of the Lambs and Psycho. If these are the mental pictures that you associate with the term psychotic, then it is time we clear the air.

speech, and catatonic behavioreither rigidity or extreme flexibility of the limbs. They also have difficulties interacting. Some patients with schizophrenia have no motivation to engage in favourite activities and withdraw from family and friends. Besides having problems thinking, they might have difficulties sustaining attention, concentrating, and making plans. If you are thinking that schizophrenia sounds very disabling and disruptive, you are right. In terms of disease burdena measure that combines years of life lost due to premature death and disabilityschizophrenia is ranked ninth in Singapore, tying with breast cancer1. In addition, up to 15% of schizophrenia patients will die by committing suicide. More than 40% would have attempted suicide at least once in their lives 2.

Seeing things, hearing voices

A psychotic person is one who experiences psychosisa type of mental disturbance characterised by a loss of touch with objective reality. Schizophrenia is probably the most severe type of psychotic disorder. But contrary to popular belief, schizophrenia is not split personality. Schizophrenia affects approximately 1% of the general population. In Singapore, around 40,000 people are afflicted with the disorder. It usually occurs between adolescence and early adulthood. Some symptoms include delusion, hallucination, disorganised

We need to understand more

Currently, the National Research Foundation Singapore is funding a Translational and Clinical Research in Neuroscience to help us gain a deeper understanding of schizophrenia and the related psychoses. The main component of this programme is the Longitudinal Youth-at-Risk Study (LYRIKS). LYRIKS aims to identify key genetic, biological, cognitive, clinical and social risk factors for psychosis among young

Factsheet: Singapore Clinical and Translational Research in Psychosis, 2010, sg/research_focus.aspx Preventing Suicide in People who have Schizophrenia, 2009, http://www.

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people between 14 to 29 years old by monitoring them for two years. Together with the Community Health Assessment Team, a mobile mental health assessment service run by the Early Psychosis Intervention Programme (Institute of Mental Health) will provide screening and assessments for young people. LYRIKS researchers will then identify individuals who might be at risk for psychosis.

Research has shown that late treatment of schizophrenia often leads to poor prognosis and a higher rate of relapse.
LYRIKS also seeks collaboration with community agencies to help build up their capacity by training frontline healthcare professionals, such as counsellors, social workers and general practitioners. They will learn to identify the early warning signs of schizophrenia so that they are better equipped to detect at-risk individuals. Schizophrenia causes tremendous suffering and burden to both the patients and their family. Hence, it is necessary for the community to learn more to help and provide support for those affected (refer to the sidebar for resources). UV Ms Chan currently works as an Assistant Psychologist at the Research Division in the Institute of Mental Health, and is a member of the LYRIKS team.

If you suspect that you or your loved one might be experiencing some symptoms of psychosis, there are people who can assist you. Here are some numbers you can call to receive help: Early Psychosis Intervention Programme (EPIP) Hotline: Institute of Mental Health Helpline (24-hours): Singapore Association of Mental Health Toll-free Counselling Helpline (24-hours): Caregivers Association of the Mentally Ill: 9017 8212 6389 2222 1800 283 7019 6782 9371

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Family Services

Fathering Enough!
Was it ever meant to be this hard?
Pearl Lee
Director (Communications & Fundraising)

If you are a father in Singapore today, chances are you are probably getting the very short end of the stick. Especially after a recent survey1 indicated that only 36% of all respondents (sample size of over 2,000 adults above 18) said that a fathers role included providing emotional care, support and giving love/affection to children and family. Most (46%) define the fathers role as predominantly the breadwinner , and that a father spends less than three hours per weekend with their children, compared to almost five hours for mothers. The Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) launched a Dads for Life campaign in November last year urging fathers to be more involved with their childrens lives. However, a few quizzical eyebrows were raised, and more than a few

men, especially the older ones (45 and above), were wondering what the fuss was all about. Why is there a need for such a nation-wide cry for more involvement from fathers? And why now? Are todays fathers less involved than their own fathers or grandfathers?

Great improvement
On the contrary, they are much better at parenting today, especially the younger fathers. Except that there are not nearly enough men who have expanded their role from that of simply a provider of services to a nurturer. Neither have they done so fast enough. Mr Wong Suen Kwong, Director for Centre for Fathering Ltd said: In the olden days, fathers worked alongside their sons on the farm or taught them a trade, and mothers stayed at home. Then the Industrial Revolution took the fathers away. That was still all right because the mothers were still at home. But that changed with the Second World War. The mothers were then taken out of the homes into the workforce. So who is filling this void? Nobody, it seems. It was difficult, for the men, who are so used to the role of breadwinner, to provide the emotional and daily involvement that a child needs, which has been diminished somewhat by the mothers physical absence and her shift of focus from the home to the workplace. Women are still the nurturing parent, simply because of biological reasons, and they are still the ones attending talks on parenting and meeting teachers in school. But they are only human and they cannot perform the entire job anymore! said Mr Wong.

Fatherhood Public Perception Survey 2009, Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports

Are todays fathers less involved than their own fathers or grandfathers?

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As such, there are signs that more children are growing up without close or meaningful relationships with their parents, resulting in discipline issues, behavioural problems and a lack in sound or moral judgement2.

So, do we turn back the clock?

Obviously, we cannot. So how do we get more fathers to adopt a more inclusive role and to speed up this process so that we can begin to close this growing abyss left by absent parents that our children are tumbling dangerously into? The Dads for Life campaign is taking the first step to address this need and is actively working through schools and churches to engage fathers. There are also other ways fathers themselves can adopt to form a more close-knit family. Fathers involvement in school At Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road), a group of about 20 fathers meet every month to pray.

Fathers, you are not alone! Centre for Fathering Blk 128A Lorong 1 Toa Payoh #01-01 6252 8428 MWS Family Service Centres (Please refer to the centre listing on the back cover) ACS Barker Road Fathers Prayer Support Group 6256 1633 (General Line)

Its a mad, mad world!

Compounding this problem is how much the social environment has changed over the last generation, particularly in technology. In about 20 years, the Internet has made the entire world, from Timbuktu to Tibet, accessible to a child. Technology is so advanced that information of all kinds, be it good or bad, is instant, constant and blatant. Moreover, digital technology can now create images or duplicate physical objects so exquisitely that it is sometimes impossible to tell the difference between myth and reality. In fact, a prominent South East Asian politician said that the destruction of the World Trade Centre back in 2001 could have been engineered by CGI experts! Some more liberal Western values, particularly on sexual behavior, are increasingly replacing the more conservative Asian ones. To counter the negative impact of the fast-changing environment, it is almost imperative that a child develops in a stable, consistent and nurturing environmentone that can only be provided by involved parents.

important to make it a ritual to gather once or twice a week, catch up on one anothers lives, and make family life a priority, said Mr Tan. Activity-based bonding Men tend to bond better when the activity is physical or sports-related. Hence, it is a no brainer for fathers and sons to go biking, rock climbing or rollerblading together. But does this mean that daughters are at a disadvantage? Not really.

As fathers pray, they develop a larger perspective with Gods stirring and they will impact their sons in a positive way, said Mr Peter Tan, the schools Principal. Time is of course the biggest obstacle for more fathers to get involved. Many are burning the candle at both ends. Our observation though is that disciplinary issues amongst boys are reduced when fathers are more involved. Making the family a prioritya conscious decision Putting aside time for the family is a commitment and requires discipline. Perhaps fathers, after understanding the reasons behind the need to be more engaged, can take this small step forward.

A father brought his daughter to a camp organised by the Centre for Fathering. During one of the activities which involved going through a tunnel together, the daughter showed her care and love by helping her father through a narrow part. At the end of the programme, he broke down and cried and apologised to his daughter for his repeated bad behavior of putting her down in front of others and not respecting her feelings, said Mr Wong. Give the man a challenge and the child an adventure, added Mr Wong. This seems to sum up a winning formula for father and child bonding. Now all it takes is TIME. Fathers, are you up to the challenge? UV

Harris, K.M & Morgan, S P (1991); Harris, K M , Furstenberg, F. F., & Marmer, K. K (1998) Paternal involvement with adolescents in intact Families: The influence of fathers over the life course, Demography, 35 (2) 201 -216

Unlike previous generations, spending time together these days does not come naturally. Even having dinner together may be a struggle sometimes. Its

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Elderly Services
OK, sure!

But at

No Problem!



on a Saturday?

Mylene Koh
Manager (Communications)

Most of us probably see Saturday mornings as an opportunity to lie in bed a little longer and catch up on some sleep. Not the Heartwarmersa group of volunteers helmed by Mr Foo Say Thye, Mr Joseph Ng, Ms Ho Ching Kee and Ms Shermin Lim. They are already at MWS Christalite Methodist Home in Marsiling, busily making coffee and preparing breakfast for the 200 residents in the Home. Not just one Saturday, but three times a month.

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Serving breakfast and warming hearts

The Heartwarmers began serving breakfast at Christalite Methodist Home (Christalite) about two and a half years ago. Breakfast was the only time they had available on Saturdays as the group also volunteers at other homes for the Aged. Mr Foo, a veteran volunteer of some 17 years, considers volunteering to be his second job, being active in volunteer recruitment and training even during the week. The elderly have a special place in his heart. They have contributed to the society and if they end up this way (in a Home), its a very sad thing. So Im trying my best to find more volunteers, to befriend them to make them happy at least for the few years that they are here, he said. He now helps to set up volunteer groups in the aged Homes, Christalite being one of the latest.

you for coming, or ask you to come back in the afternoon. On Saturday afternoons, other members of Heartwarmers come to serve the residents afternoon tea, play games and entertain them. Weather permitting, 20 wheelchair-bound residents are also taken out to the nearby hawker centre. One may wonder how they find the time and energy as working professionals to do it all. Volunteering helps them to keep a balanced life. As Ching Kee said: Monday to Friday, we really, really work. And then we come here on Saturday. Youre not feeling that you are just working, making money. Shermin agreed. Volunteering is doing something meaningful. Even though you have to wake up very early in the morning on Saturdays, it is worth it because it makes every Saturday a meaningful one.

Shermin Lim, the newest and youngest member of the group added: I dont have any grandparents now, so I thought it would be good to build up some interaction (with the elderly). Even though I cant speak very fluent Hokkien, I try my best to build up some relationship with them. I feel that we should respect them, and take proper care of them. She joined the group after learning about them through the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre, just less than two years ago. The Heartwarmers have also noticed changes in the residents. When we first came, the residents were not smiling to us, said Mr Foo, but now they see us like good friends. When you lift your hand and wave at just one person, the rest will wave at you. It keeps me coming back. Ms Ho Ching Kee added: During H1N1, volunteer groups were banned from the homes. When we came back, you could see they were so relieved to see us. They notice when we dont come. Some actually thank

You look at the smiles of the elderly and you feel that everything is worth it.

You look at the smiles of the elderly and you feel that everything is worth it, concluded Mr Foo, as they prepare to leave for the next Home.

Passing on the flame of volunteering

It appears that the Heartwarmers commitment has rubbed off on their young helpers. A group of secondary school students, who started off only intending to spend eight weekends to write a paper on volunteer work, enjoyed the experience and have stayed on for many months. This group continues to expand, as word of their activities spread among their friends. The teenagers spend the whole day at Christalite, and like the adult volunteers, they look forward to doing something meaningful with their friends on Saturdays. Among them is 14 year-old Lim Yingxuan. She began volunteering at the age of 12, at a Home near where she lives, helped to serve food and cleaned the beds. Her commitment to volunteer was further strengthened after she visited a welfare home in a neighbouring country

22 | Uncommon Voices

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with her grandfather, and was saddened by what she saw. Some of my grandfathers friends children dont even care about them. The volunteers are the only ones who care for them. Volunteers need to do it willingly and show concern and care, she said emphatically. For Ng Yongyue, also 14, seeing the old folks smiling and happy is what will keep her coming back. The commitment of the Heartwarmers and the other regular volunteers who organise activities for the residents and help out at the Home is much appreciated. Mrs Florence Ho, Director of the Home said: The residents enjoy the food, the company and the entertainment. So if you are looking for something to help balance and add more meaning to your life, do consider voluntary work. UV For volunteering opportunities, please contact our Volunteer Management Executive: Tel: 6478 4720 Email: Volunteer@


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20 14 12 14 UV

6478 4720

In and Around Our Centres

November 2009 to February 2010

Devoted to the Community

Bedok Methodist Church Cares

MWS AMH Homecare AMH Homecare (AMH) was blessed with six applications for volunteers in just one day. It all began with NOVEMBER a roadshow at Bedok Methodist Church, where the churchs Pastor-in-Charge, Rev Lim Jen Huat, and AMHs Chairman, Mr Chan Wing Leong, occupied some pulpit time to garner churchgoers support for the home hospice care. Right after the service, a church member responded by giving a $1,000 cheque. More giving was seen as AMH staff handed out a stalk of flower for every $5 donated.


MWS Covenant Family Service Centre CFSC was invited to showcase its services and programmes at ONE, an event to celebrate unity and togetherness in the Aljunied-Hougang NOVEMBER community. Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, RADM (NS) Mr Lui Tuck Yew, attended the ministerial dialogue. CFSC is part of Circle of Help, a one-stop information and referral service that was launched at the event, an initiative to consolidate and offer seamless delivery of services in the community.


A Rewarding Day Out for Volunteers

A very big Thank You to Bedok MC!

Ahoy in Singapore

Care Centre MWS Daybreak Student

MWS Covenant Family Service Centre Staff of Covenant Family DECEMBER Service Centre (CFSC) and some of their friends volunteered to organise a family event to encourage families to have fun and spend quality time bonding. On 12 December, 42 adults and children enjoyed a day of exciting games, telematches and great food. The volunteers went out of their way to make sure everyone participated and were happy. It was truly heart-warming to see families head home with smiles on their faces after the activities.


The Royal Caribbean Cruise 21 welcomed 22 children from Daybreak Student Care , on board Centre on 21 December 2009 the Seas. The one of their ships, Legend of wi excited luxury liner was soon filledsel, th t the kids. They explored the ves usme lunch and captain, savoured a sumptuo ey did not played a round of mini golf.y Th were given leave empty-handed as the left Christmas gifts before they .

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The bawang Student Care Centre Alumni 23 Club Sem organised the annual Christmas ty for children and parents. It was a hugepar success as everyone enjoyed the activities which included a tale nt competition. The event also witnessed the handin ceremony of the 2nd Exco (2008-2009) to theg-over rd new 3 Exco (2009-2010).

MWS Sembawang Studen t Ca

Ex-Students Continue to be Involved

re Centre

Parents Learning in the Library

MWS Sembawang Family Service Centre A parent interest group session on selfdiscipline and responsibility was conducted at the Sembawang Public NOVEMBER Library on 17November 2009 as part of the LEAP programme. Almost 20 parents showed up and more had to be turned away due to space constraints. Parents said that the information was useful and that they felt more confident about handling difficult behaviour in their children.

Serving the Community for Eight Years


MWS Sembawang Family Service Centre Covenant Community Methodist Church dedicated 13 December 2009 as a day to DECEMBER commemorate its partnership with MWS in the running of Sembawang Family Service Centre (SFSC). The partnership began in 2001 and since then many people have been helped. Pastor Peter and Pastor Kay Huat prayed that SFSC can continue to be used for Gods will and glory in serving the community. Appreciation was given to the volunteers for helping and blessing SFSC in many of the programmes such as KidsRead, tuition and parent interest groups.



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26 | Uncommon Voices

Pastor-in-Charge, Melvin Huang, tells Uncommon Voices why support for social concerns is an integral part of the journey of Christian discipleship.

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Where should social concerns stand among the priorities of Methodists in Singapore, and how did your journey to awareness in this area begin?
To put it simply, this is an integral part of our Methodist heritage. It is also the scriptural injunction of Matthew 25:40 Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. (By this, I believe) God judges not only individual Christians and churches but also nations as well. I came to a more significant awareness of the needs of the less fortunate when I read Bob Geldofs account of the Ethiopian famine of the mid 1980s in his book, Is That It? A passage describing his visit to a refugee camp where a boy was dying of hunger and starvation before his eyes made me starkly aware of how much suffering there is in the world. I reread that account in sermons now and then, to remind people and myself of how others have to struggle. Another significant point occurred when I was the Pastor of Trinity Methodist Church. We decided to forgo anniversary celebrations and took an offering for victims of the genocide in Rwanda and Burundi. I guess I started to realise then what a difference this could make to a church.

Does your church have a strategy/particular burden regarding social concerns, or does it believe in having as wide a reach as possible in a broad range of areas?
Wesleys Christian Outreach & Social Concerns Ministry comprises 12 sub-ministries or 13, if we include the upcoming Wesley Seniors Activity Centre, a joint project with Methodist Welfare Services (MWS). Sub-ministries that are directly managed and operated by Wesley are the Befrienders Outreach Programme, Crisis Relief Wesley, Kids in Discovery, Ministry of the Hearing Impaired, Skiers Paradise, Wesley Youth Centre, and our community projects and financial assistance schemes.

...take it as a matter of obedience and discipleship. If people read the bible properly, theyll realise God lays a responsibility on each of us to fulfill the call to help the needy.
Melvin Huang Pastor-in-Charge Wesley Methodist Church Wesley, in spite having its own outreach works, still partners and supports the work of other Christian organisations such as MWS, MWS Bethany Methodist Nursing Home, St Lukes Hospital, Chen Su Lan and St Lukes Eldercare Golden Years Centre. Most of these are unique ministries, requiring a lot of resources. The boundaries are not limited to Singapore.

Uncommon Voices | 27

The vision of Wesleys Christian Outreach & Social Concerns Ministry is to be a vibrant, committed and growing volunteerbased ministry, serving within Singapore and the region.

Its mission is to share Gods love by reaching out to help the needy and disadvantaged, and provide opportunities for volunteers to serve. It partners MWS in several areas.

Agape Methodist Hospice (AMH Homecare) A community outreach of MWS and an affiliated member organisation of the Singapore Hospice Council. Help families care for their loved ones with advanced illnesses, surrounded by the familiar comforts of home.

Bethany Methodist Nursing Home (BMNH) A community outreach of MWS, it provides specialised care for persons with long-term chronic illnesses and dementia.

9 Choa Chu Kang Avenue 4, Singapore 689815


Wesley Seniors Activity Centre (WSAC) A joint community outreach of Wesley Methodist Church and MWS, it provides social and recreational activities, and support services such as befriending, mutual help schemes, guidance, advice and information for seniors living in the vicinity of Jalan Berseh.

Befrienders Outreach Programme (BOP) Wesley seeks to touch the lives of the poor and needy elderly through visits, practical assistance like medical escort, buying meals, and organising outings for the elderly.

70 Barker Road, #05-03, Singapore 309936


6314 1580 / Ms Yip Moh Han


BOP office, YWCA 8th Floor, 6 Fort Canning Road, Singapore 179494

6478 4766 / Robin Ho


Block 25, #01-137, Jalan Berseh, Singapore 200025 (Opening in late 2010)

6837 9254 / Florence Loh


What does Wesley do in support of MWS?

A new ministry being developed and which will be co-managed by Wesley with MWS is the Wesley Seniors Activity Centre. To be launched later this year in September, it will provide a sanctuary for the older folks and it will give us a chance to build a bridge with them. Wesley supports the Agape Methodist Hospice by recruiting volunteers, praying for the ministry, and highlighting its work through our Wesley Tidings newsletter and during our social concerns weekend. With regards to the Bethany home, since 2003, our befrienders have been visiting and befriending the residents on a monthly basis. We give a monthly support of $3,300 in support of six of its residents. Twice yearly, we sponsor dinner for the staff, and we share the meaning and joy of Christmas through a year-end programme. Occasionally, our befrienders bring the residents out for an excursion. The most recent one was an outing with 15 non-ambulant residents, five nurses from the home and 11 befrienders to the Esplanades Glutton Bay on 20 Dec 2009 for dinner, followed by a drive down along Orchard Road to see the Christmas light-up. Our support can also come in the form of prayer. One of the Wednesday prayer services will be focused on the needs of Bethany.

Rev Huang prays with participants before the start of a charity walk at East Coast Park last year.

Which area of social concerns are you personally most passionate about and why?
About a decade ago, (I felt) a distinct leading to begin the Ministry of Crisis Relief at Wesley. Now, its great to see that at the Methodist church Annual and General Conference levels, we do crisis relief as well. A dedication to social concerns is part of the lifelong journey of discipleship. As we mature in our Christian walk, there should be a putting away of childish things. Dont wait to experience a passion for social concerns. I view it quite dispassionately; take it as a matter of obedience and discipleship. If people read the bible properly, theyll realise God lays a responsibility on each of us to fulfill the call to help the needy. UV

28 | Uncommon Voices

Pauline Tan

, 70 Barker Road, #05-03, Singapore 309936 6478 4766 / Robin Ho 9 Choa Chu Kang Avenue 4, Singapore 689815 6314 1580 / Yip Moh Han

Block 25, #01-137, Jalan Berseh, Singapore 200025 ( 2010 BOP office, YWCA , 6 Fort Canning Road, Singapore 179494 6837 9254 / Florence Loh

25:40 1980 Is That It? / 12 13

Wesley Tidings 2003 $3,300

20091220 1511 Glutton Bay UV

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1. What do you think about Uncommon Voices new design and layout? I like it (Go to Q2) I do not like it (Go to Q3) I did not know there was a facelift for Uncommon Voices 2. What do you like most about the new design?_ _____________________________________________________________________ 3. How do you think the design can be improved?_____________________________________________________________________ 4. How would you rate this new look? (Please indicate your opinion by circling a number) 1


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6. What do you like most about the content?__________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 7. What stories and articles would you like to see more of in Uncommon Voices?__________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

8. Does Uncommon Voices provide interesting and timely information on Methodist Welfare Services? Yes (establish reasons)________________________________________________________________________________ No (establish reasons)_ _______________________________________________________________________________ 9. Where did you get your copy of Uncommon Voices from? Your Methodist church Your personal mailbox A Community Outreach of MWS Other (please specify)____________________________________ 10. What is your age range? (Please circle one) < 21 21 25 26 30 31 40 41 50 51 60 > 60

Once you have completed this survey, you can mail it back to us at 70 Barker Road, #05-01 Singapore 309936. Please address the mail to Michelle Tan (Communications Executive). Alternatively, you can visit and submit your answers online. Submission deadline is 31 May 2010.

MWS Centres & Outreach

In Christian Love, MWS provides quality services to address prevailing social needs, touch lives and advance a compassionate and caring community.
MWS is a Member of NCSS Central Fund IPC Status has been renewed until 30 September 2011 Charity Regn No: 00166 UEN: S81SS 0088H MWS Headquarters 70 Barker Road, #05-01, Singapore 309936 S 6478 4700 X 6478 4701 v U




Children & Youth

DJoy Childrens Centre Blk 1 Maude Road #03-30 Singapore 200001 S 6294 9960 X 6294 9597 U Daybreak Student Care Centre @ Naval Base Primary School 7 Yishun Avenue 4 Singapore 769028 S 6757 2907 X 6757 0795

Sembawang FSC Student Care Centre Blk 326 Sembawang Crescent #01-44 Singapore 750326 S 6754 2890 X 6754 0112 U MWS Bursary Programme (administered by MWS HQ)

Daybreak Family Service Centre Blk 855 Yishun Ring Road #01-3539 Singapore 760855 S 6756 4995 X 6752 4709

Agape Methodist Hospice (Homecare) Administrative office: 70 Barker Road, #05-03 Singapore 309936 S 6478 4725 X 6478 4765 U Bethany Methodist Nursing Home 9 Choa Chu Kang Ave 4 Singapore 689815 S 6314 1580 X 6314 1576 U Christalite Methodist Home 51 Marsiling Drive Singapore 739297 S 6368 5179 X 6368 7127 U


Family Service Centres

Covenant Family Service Centre Blk 613 Hougang Ave 8 #01-432 Singapore 530613 S 6282 8558 X 6283 6361

Sembawang Family Service Centre Blk 326 Sembawang Crescent #01-52 Singapore 750326 S 6754 7050 X 6754 0112 U Tampines Family Service Centre Blk 470 Tampines St 44 #01-194 Singapore 520470 S 6787 2001 X 6787 4459

iConnect Student Care @ First Toa Payoh Primary School 7 Lorong 8 Toa Payoh Singapore 319252 S 6352 5996 X 6252 5321 U



Editor-in-chief Jenny Bong Editorial Committee Mylene Koh Pearl Lee Michelle Tan Vetting (Mandarin) Joseph Toh MICA (P) 081/11/2009

Uncommon Voices is the quarterly publication of Methodist Welfare Services. It is circulated free of charge to donors, volunteers, community partners, friends and Methodist churches, schools and agencies. No part of this publication may be reproduced, reprinted or stored on a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, without the written permission of MWS.
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