Love that Binds

When I was growing up, I had what many would consider a privileged lifestyle. I had tons of toys and branded clothes, attended enrichment programmes, and travelled the world with my parents. Yet, I always felt sad and empty as if there was something missing in my life.

For the first 20 years of my life, my dad worked overseas, returning only once in a long while to visit my mum and me. His visits were so few and precious that I would cling to him, demanding his full attention. Those were indeed happy moments for me. But feeling the acute loss of his presence, I would cry unconsolably and lock myself in my room whenever it was time for him to leave.

While I appreciated his sacrifice of working hard to give us a good life, I constantly struggled with my emotions and craved my dad’s love, time, and attention. The pain of missing my father sometimes seemed unbearable.

Finding the Silver Lining Today
I realise that my personal experience has helped me to understand the importance of love, care, and attention that all children need, especially during their early stages of life. Whenever I encounter a child from an underprivileged or broken family, or a child at risk, I ask myself, “What can I do to help, comfort, and encourage them?”. I want to be able to bring them happiness and assure them that I will always be by their side to guide them through the difficult times.

I have been with Morning Star for six years now, and love working with children who are challenging. I strongly believe that every child has a story to tell and deserves to be nurtured and encouraged so that they can become responsible, caring adults and citizens.

While these children would test my patience some days, I acknowledge that this is part-and-parcel of their growing up and my love for them should be a constant in their lives.

My heart finds fulfilment when they improve and I see the difference that I make in their lives. They would write notes of appreciation which warm my heart; and when I see a significant change in their behaviour for the better, I am filled with gladness. My journey with Morning Star has helped me to grow and appreciate what I have in life. It is when you see how other people without privileges and material comforts struggle that you realise how blessed you are. 

– Lim Jia, Facilitator, Morning Star Community Services

A Star Shines Bright

As a child, William had anger and relationship issues and was unable to focus. He was seven and among the first batch of students to attend Morning Star Community Services’ student care centre in Hougang.

“My dad passed on early and my mum raised my sister and I singlehandedly. I spent all my allowance without care, not realising how hard my mother worked to support us.”

William admits that he often took things too seriously and got angry when other children made fun of him. They began to alienate him, and in turn, this made him wary of interacting with other children. He would often get into quarrels with his sister as well as children and facilitators at the care centre.

William was referred to the NOVA Learning Intervention Programme. At first, this little angry boy resisted the care, counselling and coaching of the facilitators, and was often rude and harsh with them.

The turning point came when William realised that despite his bad attitude, “the NOVA facilitators gave me lots of love that was undeserved and unearned. When we misbehaved, they corrected us and we had to face the consequences.”

By the time he was 12, William had turned around. He began to save his money and would even share his savings with his mother when the need arose. He is grateful to his mother for her unconditional love and is also thankful to his sister who cared for him.

With his counsellors’ support, William realised he could become a successful, joyful and caring person. They also helped his mother understand her children and manage conflicts at home. William credits his mother for being a good role model and aims to be the same for his children in future.

Now 25, William graduated in 2016 from Temasek Polytechnic with a Diploma in Mobile & Network Services and is currently serving his National Service. This one-time angry boy now advises others on their anger management issues, “Without the NOVA Programme, I would not have become what I am today and able to share these lessons with friends who need it.”

To sum up his journey, William quoted a Chinese saying, “If people have served you, you must return the good deed.” He is now paying it forward and volunteers with the Morning Star centre by helping children with their school work and sharing his experience as a beneficiary of Morning Star. He encourages the children to persevere and continue working towards achieving their life goals.

Morning Star Community Services aims to enrich and strengthen family relationships through upstream, preventive and early intervention family programmes, workshops and counselling.

This article is extracted from the Caritas Singapore Annual Report 2017.
Morning Star Community Services is a member organisation of Caritas Singapore.