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Dec 2010/Jan 2011


The official publication of the Methodist Welfare Services

Is there


For FamIlIes
Technology has impacted the way our youth communicate

MeeT a FaMily Man
Rev Bernard Chao Good News for families in Singapore

Our MW family h S as a new log o!

In sIngapore? ngapore?
Walk a Mile in The shoes oF The poor

Unravelling Teens lingo




The modern family in Singapore is faced with many challenges. But there is hope as there are resources in the community that can help to alleviate some of the negative ramifications.

Family service centres counter family issues by providing support and solutions.

Shedding light on seven issues our families are struggling with.

way to engage Find out the best with youth te and communica . these days


HEart OF tHE MattEr


4 There is Hope for the Families

FaMily S SErviCES

20 EvENt OvErviEW 22 Helping One Family At A Time

iN tHE SpOtligHt

10 LOL, IDK, ROFL, BBL... 14 The Family Service Centre A Haven for Families in Distress

26 In the Shoes of the Disadvantaged 28 The Awards Page

MWS Cares for the Family

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


Covenant FSC Daybreak FSC Sembawang FSC tampines FSC

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

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

Uncommon voices | 3

Editor's Note
Have You Thought of the Poor Lately?
In celebration of 125 years of The Methodist Church in Singapore, the 125th Anniversary Community Outreach Project was birthed. We have surpassed our target of raising $1.25 million to help 800 chronically-poor families. An overwhelming 2,000 befrienders have committed themselves to the poor. We are grateful for this outpouring of compassion for the needy. With the support of Central Singapore Community Development Council, MWS staff also participated in a poverty simulation exercise to understand the daily challenges of those living in poverty. Participants assumed different identities and were divided into family groups with difficult life circumstances. I was a participant too. So have I thought of the poor lately? Yes, more than ever before. The unheard stories of families suffering in poverty need to be told. We need to look beyond mere statistics that only depict the number of people helped and the amount disbursed. For this can hide their emotional struggle and pain. We need to weave together the actual experiences of low-income families: their daily grind of living, unfulfilled dreams, heartaches and accounts of their strength and resilience. This, I think, will enable us to have a holistic understanding of poverty. As someone cautioned, we may have inadvertently become captive to the god-complexes of the non-poor. We may err in thinking that the poor need us (pardon me if I have placed you in the category of the non-poor), for we are like gods who have blessed them with our money and time. But instead, we should walk alongside them, encourage them, admire their resilience, as we observe how our fellow brothers and sisters cope with tough times. There are moments when I think poverty is an insurmountable problem. It is too complex an issue for an organisation or individual to handle. However, when I witness what caring hearts our staff and volunteers possess, my heart flutters with a murmur of hope. Small beginnings may one day add up to a big and life-changing end. With the new year, MWS will continue to work on small beginnings to care for the chronically-poor. Will you join me to think of the poor?

125 125 125800 2,000

Jenny Bong
Editor-in-Chief MWS Group Executive Director


Noticed our updated MWS logo on the cover? rn look for the MWS family:

mode We are heralding a brand new year with a new and the foundation for what we do for as love The solid blue encasement symbolises Gods the ultimate reason for MWS existence. the poor and needy, while the cross reminds us of

Heart of the Matter

HOPE for the Families

Pearl Lee
Group Director (Communications & Fundraising)

There is

Michelle tan

Senior Executive (Communications)

The modern family in Singapore is faced with many challenges. Demanding careers and higher divorce rates have led to dire consequences. Uncommon Voices takes a look at how the evolving structure and dynamics of the family unit in Singapore is impacting the quality of family life in general. We highlight some resources in the community that have been introduced to help alleviate some of the negative ramifications.

Uncommon voices | 5

Sheila and John have been married for six years. They have a four-year-old son, Peter. Both of them work but Sheila takes on the responsibility of caring for Peter when she comes back from work. As a sales manager, John comes home late everyday, so Sheila feels that he is not being fair to her. After four years of pent-up bitterness and frustration, Sheila has had it and wants a divorce. She wants custody of Peter. LIkE tHE CASE StORy ABOvE, many families have grown smaller and the concept of a till death do us part marriage is being challenged. The belief that the family is the bedrock of society and a support system for the growth of healthy and productive individuals may be eroding.

Joachim observed that there are more married couples who may live under the same roof but in separate bedrooms. They spend so much time and energy on their kids that it has eaten into their own relationship. There is no more intimacy and they put on a happy family act in front of their children, he said.

Maintaining a happy and healthy relationship, while balancing the stresses of work and parenting children, becomes too much for couples to cope and some end up in divorce. In the past, divorce was almost never considered when one is unhappy in a marriage. But as we live in a globablised world which is exposed to many different values and worldviews, it is now more acceptable for married couples to separate if there is no more love between them. Moreover, with greater financial independence and a role in the marketplace, more women are initiating divorces. Last year, wives initiated 64% of all non-Muslim divorces and 66% of Muslim divorces.2 Increasingly, women are not accepting the burden of shouldering the responsibility of being the primary caregiver and a working adult contributing to the familys income.

Time, work and the small family

Singaporeans work very hard. Staying in the office past the usual working hours is a norm. This strong emphasis on career-building may well be one of the reasons for later marriages and fewer children. The size of an average household in Singapore is shrinking. The proportion of households with two or three persons increased from 36% in 2000 to 41% in 2009.1 A small family faces a different set of issues. With just one or two kids, a lot of focus is placed on their education. There is a general belief that success depends on the achievement of good academic grades. Families have become very child-centric, especially when theyve fewer children. Parents frequently argue over their childrens education, said Joachim Lee, Director of MWS Tampines Family Service Centre (TFSC). As families become more child-centric, couples tend to neglect the nurturing of the spousal relationship. With both parents working and no quality time spent with each other, the relationship between husband and wife is at stake, said Florence Lim, Director of MWS Covenant Family Service Centre (CFSC).

Before you say I do Pre-marital counselling

To prevent couples from falling down this slippery slope of a broken marriage, there is an increase in pre-marital counselling courses and marriage enrichment courses, offered by various agencies and religious organisations. At MWS TFSC, pre-marital workshops are regularly organised for couples who are planning to get married. They start with a full-day group workshop, which is then followed by two individual counselling sessions.

1 2

Shrinking households a growing trend here, 1 October 2010, TODAYonline Now, the wives have had enough, 17 June 2010, TODAYOnline

6 | Uncommon voices

(Continued from previous page)

Its marriage preparation programme, Duets, is based on the research and analysis of Dr. John Gottman, a leading marriage researcher from the United States. With the Duets programme, there have been occasions where our counsellors have advised couples to work on their weaknesses first before tying the knot. Rena Sivadas, one of the facilitators, added: Marriage is hard work and there is a need to compromise on some aspects in the marriage. But it is also about seeing the positive side of the other person and making the choice of seeing it.

Preventing cracks in the marriage

No matter what one learns to expect in a marriage, problems will surface eventually. Joachim felt that it is important for married couples to strengthen their relationship. One of the ways is to attend marriage enrichment courses, not just to iron out existing issues faced but also to love and appreciate each other all over again. Debra Mok-Chan advocates the importance of such programmes after she recently participated in one organised by her church. Even though she and her husband Marriage is were happy with their eight-year hard work and there is marriage, the workshop was a need to compromise on a much-needed reminder to go back to the Biblical some aspects in the marriage. concepts of marriage. But it is also about seeing We were reminded about what Ephesians 5: 22-33 the positive side of the instructed. Wives have to other person and making submit to their husbands the choice of and the husbands to sacrifice themselves for their wives. It was seeing it. tough for me to swallow, especially in this modern age, so it was a good reminder for us, said Debra. Married couples were also brought back to basics where they were told to identify their spouses love language, be it affirmation, gifts, acts of service, quality time and physical touch. The workshop was also a wake-up call for Debra and her husband. As a couple without kids, weve the tendency to be consumed in our relationship and sometimes, we forget to include God in our marriage. Through this course, I learnt that no matter how good life is, weve to add God to the equation. A marriage enrichment course will definitely provide some form of breakthrough for a couple even if they think that they dont need any help at all.

Uncommon voices | 7

The family teaches morals and is a source of emotional nourishment and sustenance. It is hard work raising children. But as a parent, and now a grandparent, I can tell you that children are worth every cent, every worry, every sacrifice.

Coping with parenting

In addition to nurturing the marital relationship, both husband and wife also need to raise their children despite their busy lifestyles. With more mothers in the workforce, fathers are required to share household and parenting responsibilities. Last year, the government launched a nationwide campaign, Dads for Life, to encourage fathers to be more involved in parenting. Other organisations like churches and schools have also taken up the cause. While this movement may take time to yield results, it is one of the key ways the family unit can be strengthened. Other opportunities available to parents include parenting workshops or education talks. Most family-oriented non-profit organisations, like Focus on the Family, would run these

programmes to empower parents to raise healthy and responsible children. MWS family service centres (FSCs) also conduct similar workshops regularly. MWS CFSC manages Parentline, a telephone service manned by professional social workers. Parents call in for information and advice on issues concerning their children. They can also approach any FSCs to get more focused and personal help through one-to-one counselling sessions.

can go on to live healthy and well-balanced lives. It will not be easy as society has become too complex for any single or quick fix solutions to work. Perhaps we need to appreciate the importance of the family more and to put in the effort and time needed to keep this vital foundation of the family strong. Senior Minister, Mr Goh Chok Tong, sums it up for us.3 He said: The family teaches morals and is a source of emotional nourishment and sustenance. It is hard work raising children. But as a parent, and now a grandparent, I can tell you that children are worth every cent, every worry, every sacrifice. Uv

The family is still worth the investment

The writing, as they say, is on the wall. The family unit needs to be reinforced back to a more cohesive and stable level, a platform upon which individuals

Family values come first: Prime Minister, 2004, The Straits Times

8 | Uncommon voices



1 200036%200941% 2 64%66% Duets Dr. John gottman rena Sivadas 52223

1 2

2010101tODayonline 2010617tODayOnline

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Childrens Services


Pearl Lee
Group Director (Communications & Fundraising)

Peggy Ng
Senior Executive (Communications & Community Relations)


If you can decipher what the above letters mean, congratulations! You are either a teen or you have mastered the language of the eGeneration. For most of us, born before the digital explosion (PC and mobile in the 80s, Internet in the 90s), this language could well be used by aliens who are trying to communicate with Mother Earth. Uncommon Voices takes a look at how the advent of super fast mobile communication devices riding on super fast information highways has affected the way our youth are communicating today.

COMMUNICAtION IN tHE 21St CENtURy is all about speed, quantity and images. We are no longer talking about a single way to connect and send messages: sound, text, pictures and graphics are combined in a myriad of ways. Convenience and availability are priorities so you can now send messages from anywhere to anyone within the civilised world, simply by using a palm-sized wireless device. Presently, young adults do not know a world without gadgets and

Uncommon voices | 11


relating to them these days would mean engaging with their various appendages (e.g. iphone, ipod, ipad) too. In a 2010 survey1, most of the social networking users in Singapore (30%) are aged 15 to 24 years old. They also form the largest age group who read blogs (13%). About 55% of the users of instant messaging are aged between 15 to 34 years. Only about 4% of social network users are aged 35 to 49 years. Although this avalanche of information traversing the globe may be a boon for economies, businesses and political systems, but how is it impacting relationships between people? For building relationships relies so much on effective and quality communication between individuals.

Truncated communication
Strong and enduring interpersonal relationships are built through meaningful and rich communication, involving the intellectual, psychological, social, emotional and spiritual aspects of the people involved. This requires interaction far beyond verbal and written levels, and that is tone of voice, body language, eye contact and facial expressions.
MelissaZelas Life sucks and im so sad! 4 hours ago Like Comment Share

especially for loved ones, to resolve a conflict face-to-face. It may also be more difficult to assess real situations through online communication. Janice*, 18, said that some of her friends maintain two Facebook accountsone for parents viewing, and the other for friends which is filled with vulgarities and naughty things.

Jolene Tan and7 others like this. JoleneTanwat happen... u ok or not? 2 hours ago Like Write a comment...

Singapore SEO Consultant, 2010, http://

However, our youth today, because of the digital age, rarely go beyond the first level of interaction. The onslaught of SMS has redefined communication. Each 160-character message condenses thoughts and ideas (even emotions) into digital silos, resulting in communication that is incomplete, lacking depth. It is not uncommon these days for siblings to text each other even when in the same house! Ms Alphra Tse, Counselling Supervisor of Yong-en Care Centre, is concerned that the younger generation may be losing interpersonal, social skills and conflict resolution skills. There are places for personal interaction. For example, theres no better way,
*Not her real name

Furthermore, feelings and opinions are brought down to the simplest level with abbreviations like LOL (laughing out loud) and idk (I dont know). How loud are you laughing and to what extent does one not know? Well, no one really knows!

Posting on eGen

The digital subsitute for face-to-face interaction social media

Teenagers and youths often have emotional issues which they do not feel comfortable sharing with parents. But with Facebook, they enjoy the freedom of expression with their friends. Marie* felt that Facebook is a great avenue to express ones thoughts but you will often find posted comments generic and vague. She added: For me, I share more about my problems with those who bother to catch up over

i feel angry at m y ex. its been months nowi seriou6 y need help on i dont know how to deal with my feelings of anger. i dont handle an ger well.
Posted on 2010-11-09 10:44:07 by lovemymum

12 | Uncommon voices


(Continued from previous page)

private chats on Facebook or talk in person. The use of social media may not be an ideal substitute for face-to-face interpersonal communication. Many spend so much time online that their family relationships, work or studies suffer. The danger which comes with the convenience of online communication is that sharing of personal and intimate details of ones life can be viewed by thousands of people at once. This is not ideal for building strong interpersonal relationships. Abbreviations idk lol rofl bbl brb xoxo I dont know laughing out loud roll on floor laughing be back later be right back hugs and kisses

counselling service is popular with youth and young adults. Those who need online counselling services can make an appointment to discuss their problems with a case worker in an online chat room privately. Rachel Yeo, Senior Social Worker, shared: Many of them are able to share personal problems such as self-mutilation, suicidal thoughts, sexual concerns, depression and other mental problems, which may not be easily shared otherwise. Another social worker commented: Young people are using modern technologies to fulfill a basic need for self-expression and bonding. If were unable to communicate with them through channels they prefer, Im afraid that what they think might be true: those who dont use social media and other forms of new media communication are a different generation and dont understand them.





e 80 90

Harnessing and embracing

It is however quite impossible to turn back the clock. The digital age is here to stay and technology will continue to change the way future generations communicate. To engage our youth, it is impossible not to utilise new media platforms, especially if the traditional channels of communication have broken down, e.g. between estranged children and their parents. With the support of the National Council of Social Service (NCSS), Fei Yue Community Services has been providing online counselling services at The online

Slowing down the tsunami

Effective and quality interpersonal relationship building need human contact. While the youth are able to express themselves through blogs, Facebook and other digital media, these avenues cannot replace the nurturing of meaningful relationships through face-to-face interaction. As parents, we need to be aware of this phenomenon and encourage meaningful interaction between our youth and adults, on a regular basis, to counter the negative effects of the digital age. Uv
21 iphoneipodipad

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2010 1 30% 15 24 13% 55% 15 343549 4%

18 * eGen 6

lovemymum 2010-11-09 10:44:07 lOl rachel yeo idk * idk lol rofl bbl brb xoxo Uv

160 alphra tse t


2010 singapore-internet-usagestatistics.htm

14 | Uncommon voices

Family Services

The Family Service Centre

A Haven
Michelle tan
Senior Executive (Communications)

Families in Distress
Researched by Peggy Ng
Senior Executive (Communications & Community Relations)

Despite a fast-moving economy and top-notch infrastructure, our country is not exempt from having families who are experiencing stress, parenting issues and a myriad of social problems. Family service centres have been established islandwide to support and enhance family functioning.
tHERE ARE 36 family service centres in Singapore, located mainly at HDB void decks. The modest facade belies the work accomplished within those walls, for it is a place where many sad stories have been told and reworked with new beginnings. FSCs provide intervention to strengthen family function and well-being.1 Methodist Welfare Services (MWS) operates four FSCs, namely Covenant FSC, Daybreak FSC, Sembawang FSC and Tampines FSC. Casework & Counselling and Information & Referral services are their core responsibilities. Our FSCs also run special programmes that meet the specific needs of the community where they are located.

Helping to strengthen the family through MWS FSCs

A FSC is a key community-based focal point and social service provider for families in Singapore. As agencies with social workers and social service professionals,

Supporting Families; Family Service Centres, Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports

Financial problems remain the top issue

According to the Worldwide Cost of Living Survey 2010, Singapore was ranked the top 11th city in the world with the highest cost of living.2 In the past two years, we have found that financial problem was the top presenting issue in all our MWS FSCs. This constituted 56% (1,500) of all the cases seen. Ms Linda Koh, Senior Social Worker at Sembawang FSC, works with chronically-poor families in the community. Some of these families are homeless and do not know where their next meal would come from. Hence, poverty becomes the root cause of other problems like homelessness, family violence, depression or suicidal tendencies, childrens poor school attendance and many other complex issues. Our social workers work with each family, sometimes one problem at a time, and eventually can spend up to a year helping one family.

Martin Chok, Head of Daybreak FSC, said that it is a common sight for children to manifest behavioural problems when their families are in distress. Especially when they have absentee parents, these children lack an authoritative figure at home and are more inclined to display difficult behaviour over time. Daybreak FSC hopes to improve parent-child relationships through parent education. We want to teach parents to be more involved in the various aspects of the childrens life, be it their studies or social life, said Martin.

Singaporean parents have very high hopes for their children, and invest a lot of time, money and effort to help them excel in their studies. Parents have a very strong desire to ensure that their children maximise the economic opportunities available, hence the emphasis on education, said Joachim. Childrens enrichment classes at the FSCs are usually fully-participated. This quest for stellar academic performance continues to fuel the $820 million3 tuition industry in Singapore. While providing a good life for children is important, Tampines FSC believes in getting couples to rekindle their romance and to focus on their love for each other back when they first got married.

Broken marriages another rising trend

An apparent trend among families is broken marriages. With the demands of career and other various family challenges, couples are finding it harder to keep the family unit strong. Caught up in career advancement and providing a great future for their children, married couples are overlooking the essentials of intimacy and unity, stated Joachim Lee, Director of Tampines FSC. More than 800 families approached our FSCs to seek help for family relationship issues, and about 40% of these are marital-related problems. Some couples have drifted so far apart that they do not wish to reconcile but only hope to minimise the negative repercussions from the break-up.

A technology-driven world might have adverse effects

Another issue that has gotten more attention in recent years is the excessive usage of computers among children and youth. With the push for the general population to adopt an e-lifestyle and digital economy, it is compulsory for 30% of Singapores school curriculum to have an information technology component.4 The downside is that children are getting increasingly addicted to computers. Covenant FSC conducts talks regularly to educate parents on preventive measures. Sim Ngee Mong, Senior Social Worker at Covenant FSC, is concerned that many parents are not aware of the dangers. They do not consider the need to implement control measures until serious problems occur, e.g. social isolation, studies being affected or displaying aggressive behaviour all likely signs of computer addiction, he said. A lot more can be done. Many expect the social workers to offer a quick-fix

Many expect the social workers to offer a quick-fix solution.

Children end up suffering too
Children very often end up being the most affected in troubled families. Both Daybreak FSC and Sembawang FSC operate Student Care Centres (SCCs), and more than half of the students come from families with a household income of less than $2,500. They in turn receive subsidised fees. Tampines FSC also runs a 44th Childrens Club that provides tuition to children from low-income families.
2 3 4

Child-centred marriages
One of the reasons for failed marriages in recent years is couples intense focus on their childrens education.

City rankings, Worldwide Cost of Living Survey 2010, The tutor who earned $520,000, 3 September 2010, The Straits Times Internet and displacement effect: Childrens media use and activities in Singapore, 23 June 2006, doi/10.1111/j.1083-6101.2002.tb00143.x/full

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solution. However, due to the multifaceted issues and problems presented, the FSCs are hard pressed to do so. For example, a FSC can assist a poor family to apply for financial assistance, education bursaries; organising financial management workshops. However, these efforts are only part of the solution for longer-term impact. FSCs also require families to cooperate to ensure a good outcome. In the case of wife abuse, if the husband refuses to cooperate, the social workers ability to help can be limited. He/She can only advise the wife on ways to cope and manage her spouse. Likewise for computer addiction cases, if the child/youth refuses to go for counselling, parents can only implement control measures. Hence, FSCs are faced with challenges when assisting their clients. As many of the issues are diverse and complex, they also network with community partners to continue to provide relevant programmes and services for our families today. Uv



36 1

2 2010 11 56% 1,500

1 2


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3 8.2 30% 4 / / Uv

$2,500 44

800 40%

3 4

$520,000201093 2006623

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Our Family Service Centres

All family service centres primary role is performing Casework & Counselling and Information & Referral. However, each of our four Centres offers additional programmes that specifically meet the needs of the community they are in.

Covenant FSC
me helps families GIFTS Program r capita) and (income of $450 pe e family and children to manag ilities. budgeting responsib gaged in life Children are en rn about to skills projects lea gthen selfresponsibility, stren e conflicts. Florence Lim esteem, and manag Director of CFSC shops help Awareness work eir other interests in th lop ve parents de tion. dic ad ter pu m t co children and preven
m took a turn for the nes* financial proble CA SE St OR y Ja e could not work sband lost his job. Sh worse when her hu gh GIFTS, she still very young. Throu as her children were ch r ildren received ge her finances. He learnt to better mana ght useful life nt FSC and were tau free tuition at Covena s a part-time ha in school. Now, Jane skills to cope better a course ing dy ntre. She is also stu job at a childcare ce can conduct e sh t worker so tha se ca r he by ed nd recomme ildcare centres. relief teaching at ch

Daybreak FSC
Student Care Centre (SC C) provides subsidised servic es and social workers assist in any behavioural or financi al problems. Growth & Development Martin C Kids ho Scheme gives young childre Assistant k Director n of DFSC from needy families a hea dstart with up to S$50 worth of useful items monthly for six months. SCC conducts piano les sons to encourage holistic development.
CA SE StO Ry Sandy* and her parents are foreigners. When Sandy first came to Daybre ak SCC, she was ver y insecur e and cried a lot. Her parents were trying to adjust to life in Singapore, so they had no time for Sandy. But with the warm and caring supervisio n of Daybreak SCCs teache rs, she started to enjoy the cen tres various activities. Her brother, Peter*, will soon join her as well.

Sembawang FSC
Partnered with Salmon Trust Pte Ltd to conduct a money management workshop for families with financial issues. Many clients could save more money and some even Ho Sau Kuen taught their children how to Director of SF SC manage their pocket money. Others learnt to compare prices and became more frugal.
CASE StOR y Mdm Tan* has two childr en, and one of them is hearing-impaired and needs to atten da special needs school which is more costly. She and her husband also have to care for an elderly moth er with her husbands income of $1200 per month. Throu gh Sembawang FSC, the children received the Strait s Times School Pocket Money Fund (SPMF). Mdm Tan attended the budgeting workshop and learnt to better manage the familys finances. She was also able to obtain a $1000 hearing aid from Assistive Technology Fund (ATF) from the Centre for Enabled Living (CEL).

Tampines FSC
ration course The marriage prepa rkshop for wo is a full-day group busy couples. will receive Individual couples ns for two counselling sessio fied nti ide s specific concern p. ho rks during the wo lmon Trust Joachim Lee Collaborates with Sa Director of TFSC ,000 seed $3 e vid Pte Ltd to pro s ilie fam e om inc low funding for also lected candidates are to set up business. Se urship skills. trained in entreprene
she approach was devastated when CA SE St OR y Kelly* ra-marital affair. With ed sband had an ext Tampines FSC. Her hu marriage one she wanted to give her two teenage children, their problems. and blamed herself for last try. Kelly felt guilty helped Kelly to emotional support and The counsellor offered tivated her mo . Her positive attitude improve her self-esteem ce then, sin d e counselling too an husband Harry* to receiv rnt to lea ey roved significantly. Th their relationship has imp h other. eac h wit cts and communicate effectively resolve confli

*Not his/her real name

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( (GIFTS) $450)


* $120 0 $100 0

t us hr T on lm Sa $450 $3 ,0 00
* *

In and Around Our Centres

September 2010 to December 2010

Volunteers at Christalite
Christalite Rows to Republic Polytechnic
MWS Christalite Methodist Home The dragon boat team from Republic Polytechnic took time to SEPTEMBER bring wheelchair-bound Christalite Methodist Home residents on a field trip to their campus. Mooncakes and drinks were distributed and each of the 50 members was partnered with a resident. After the short tour, the students served lunch and even played games with the residents. They ended the day by cleaning and tidying up the Home.


A Competition of Intellect & Wit

Autumn Sonata Gala Dinner

MWS AMH Homecare AMH Homecare put up a dazzling gala dinner at Shangri-La Hotel to raise funds for its work with patients with advanced illnesses. OCTOBER Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister of Community Development, Youth & Sports, was the Guest-of-Honour. Everyone was treated to the harmonious voices of Tenors for Christ and two beautiful dance items by Ms Rosalind Tay. An AMH Homecare patient sang a very heartfelt song of gratitude too.


MWS Christalite Methodist Home Citibank headed to Christalite Methodist Home for its Citi Global Community Day. To engage the elderly through a social OCTOBE R game, the 30 volunteers organised a mahjong competition. Six teams competed and all the participants had loads of fun throughout the afternoon. Tokens were given out to the winner of each game, and prizes awarded to the top three winners. Ever yone received a goody bag of instant noodles and biscuits too!


Just Games!

Christ Methodist Churc h (CMC) has been ver y passionate about helping the Home , especially with its ded icated volunteer s. As par t of its rebuilding project, the Church will be organising a cha rity golf tournament on 24 March 2011. Contact CMC for more details.

MWS Covenant Family Service Centre An entire day was dedicated to just games at Covenant FSC. Youth between 12 and 15 years OCTOBER old played Nintendo Wii and various board games with one another, and made new friends along the way too. Everyone had heaps of fun and there was even a lucky draw to end the day.


From Trash to Treasure

vice Centre MWS Sembawang Family Ser Centre bawang FSC Student Care Sem of ts Studen unique a to ted trea re we and the LEAP programme d ycle rec d use y the ere hands-on art session wh h Wit . n masterpieces SEPT EMBE R materials to create their ow ated cre s kid s, bottle caps and more, the scraps of cloth, newspaper and ng aki er-m sks. They also learnt pap hand puppets and face ma sed and prised that trash could be reu sur re foam printing. Many we nt. ere creative and diff remade into something so

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A Little Piece of Korea in Bethany

ber n to Remem Centre ce vi A Graduatio er ang Family S

MWS Semb

g abilities, aw roved readin p im r ei th te bawang FSC To celebra ts from Sem an ip n tic ar p eir graduatio kidsREAD g and had th tin u o s o er ld zo u a o enjoyed rubbed sh ere too! They OC TO BE R ceremony th re heading to o ef animals b er th o d an child received goats mony. Each with ponies, re ce e th r fo tre ional Library the amphithea ok sponsored by the Nat y Covenant o ab ks created b ar km a certificate, o o b l kids. ersonalised unday schoo Board, and p t Churchs S is d o h et M Community

MWS Bethany Methodist Nursing Home Bethany Methodist Nursing Homes residents were in for a treat! Beautiful Minds Charity Korea (a group of OCTOBER top musicians from various Korean universities) stopped by to put up a classical charity concert at the Home. Many songs including a beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace were performed. It was definitely one of Bethanys highlights for the year.



Plays In! Schools Out, S Student Care Centres

W Combined: All M student care All four of MWS Daybreak, centres (SCCs) and DJoy, iConnect intly organised DE CE MB ER Sembawangjo Ball and entre Captains their first inter-c 110 children an th ent. More m na ur to er cc eir all to So d they gave it th participated an ship llo eat day of fe w win. It was a gr anship m ts or ed their sp and many show the At s. am other te by cheering on who t ou ab t no it was end of the day, ie and camarader won but the fun ildren. between the ch

TFSCs Children Celebrate

MWS Tampines Family Service Centre Volunteers from SAFRA Community Services Club brought 42 underOCTOBER privileged children from Tampines FSC for an outing to SAFRA Jurong. All the kids enjoyed the indoor playground and even participated in a mini Amazing Race-style game.

pore MWS Tampines Family Ser vice Cen tre Staff of Defence Science and Tec hnology Agency brought Tampines FSCs under-privileged kids to Chinatown, Little India, Kampong Glam and Bugis SEPTE MBER to learn more about the history and culture of Singapore. Through quizzes and games, the children had an enjo yable day in the city.

A Historic Journey through Sin ga


Fun Across Generations

MWS Tampines Family Service Centre Together with Tampines East Silver Connect Committee, Tampines FSC organised Towards Closer Bonding: SEPTEMBER Intergenerational Integration Games, an event where citizens from different generations bonded over fun, food and games. It was held at the Tampines East Community Club and Mr Mah Bow Tan, Minister for National Development and Advisor to Tampines GROs, was the Guest-of-Honour.


Reverend Bernard Chao is one who wears many hats in his workplace. But his love for his family keeps him grounded, and ensures that he does not get consumed by the stresses of worka trait many Singaporeans lack.

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Lack of time Singaporeans are very busy with work these days, especially with the high standard of living and the increased desire to attain more material wealth. People are time-squeezed and working overtime is a norm. And as dual-income families become commonplace, both parents rely heavily on foreign domestic maids and even grandparents to be their childrens caregivers, said Rev Chao. Absentee parents Rev Chao has encountered many youth who have been hurt by parents who are not around, be it physically or emotionally. There are parents who are present but they are consumed with work-related thoughts. Taking work home is no longer an exception but the norm. Inconsistent parenting When grandparents and maids are involved in parenting, parenting styles may differ. With grandparents tendency to spoil their grandchildren and maids differing culture and value systems, they should be taught to adopt a consistent approach, Rev Chao elaborated. Loss of human worth In Singapore, success is measured by economic growth. This value system diminishes a persons worth and the importance of people because an employee is merely a key performance indicator in the business, Rev Chao explained. Hence, building relationships, essentially a non-profit gesture, becomes secondary. A disappearing community Gone are the kampungs where children would play with their peers in the village and neighbours would help one another out. Rev Chao observes that families now live far from each other and rarely gather. Each household is isolated, with no effort made to befriend neighbours.


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Family Time
At A
Michelle tan
Senior Executive (Communications)


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IF tHERE ARE ONLy tHREE wORDS that can be used to describe Reverend Bernard Chao (after an hours interview), they will be eloquent, knowledgeable, and loving. He knows what he is talking about and has research to back up his statements. But most importantly, he is full of lovefor his wife, his children, his flock at Trinity Methodist Church, and God.

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Wearer of many hats

As a pastor, Rev Chao spends a lot of his time counselling church members regarding their spiritual and emotional issues. He is also very active in the youth ministry, and trains both youth workers and lay persons, preparing them for lifes challenges. And during his free time, together with his wife, who is a full-time counsellor, he volunteers at Focus on the Family by conducting marriage preparation and enrichment courses. His dedication towards strengthening the family unit stems from a growing concern that some of todays parents are not doing their part.

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Families at risk
There are three core dynamics taking place within the families in our society today. They are time, worth and community, said Rev Chao. Moreover, these factors can be further divided into seven issues that Singaporean families are struggling with.

Uncommon voices | 23

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New marriage model Husbands used to be the breadwinner of the family and the wife would be responsible for the house. However, all that has changed since both parents work now. This has resulted in women becoming more empowered. There is then the dilemma of sharing household and parenting responsibilities, said Rev Chao. Aftershocks of divorce Rev Chao believes that the worrying issue is not just the increasing number of divorces but also the effects of divorce. There are more reconstituted families as smaller families merge into a bigger one. The challenge is to ensure that the newlyformed families cope with the change well.

Rising above the stress

Rev Chao recalls a doctor friend who stopped working long hours to take on an administrative job in a hospital because he wanted to spend more time with his family. Intentionally making hard choices are necessary sometimes. And it is important that jobs dont become your identity; living with peace beyond understanding and fullness of life as children of God is, he said. Churches can contribute to building healthy families too. Rev Chao explained: They can train and equip couples with marriage preparation and parenting courses. As a volunteer at Focus on the Family for the past 10 years, Rev Chao also conducts programmes for couples. These sessions are communityfriendly and open to all faiths, but are based on Christian principles. However, rather than focusing on the erosion of family values in our society today, Rev Chao believes in becoming aware of our family, God and our self. When we do, we discover that the riches of God and the abundant life are found in the immense riches of relationships, he said.

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Coping with the challenges of the future

In Rev Chaos words, the future of relationships within a family is potentially depressing. There are many hindering factors like technology and growing affluence. With email and the advent of instant messaging, there is less time to think and reflect, and be patient. All tasks have to be completed quickly as work is measured by efficiency now.

My relationship with my wife and my children is the fertile ground in which God reveals Himself ever so wonderfully, tenderly and amazingly.
Rev Bernard Chao Pastor Trinity Methodist Church

And Christian families are not spared too. Rev Chao has observed that they are equally vulnerable to societal changes. But at least they have a shared value system, and with the Living God as their source, they know that they can be saved. Hence, some Christian couples are able to rebuild their marriage.

And as Christians, it is our duty to set an example for others to follow. We should demonstrate with our lives and articulate in the terms of universal principles of marriage and family life that our non-Christian friends would be able to appreciate. Then the church will be good news to marriages and families in Singapore, concluded Rev Chao. Uv punishment is to correct, and should not be meted out in anger. and to keep those romantic sparks flying between man and wife, he would go on movie and dinner dates with his wife regularly. although it is not always easy and they have their fair share of quarrels, mutual love and respect triumph at the end of the day. My relationship with my wife and my children is the fertile ground in which God reveals Himself ever so wonderfully, tenderly and amazingly. Rev Bernard Chao

A Look at the Daily Life of Rev Chao

Every father is a pastor to his family. Rev Bernard Chao lawyer-turned-pastor, rev Bernard Chao admits that he is prone to working long hours too. However, he needs to walk the talk and all the more, set a stellar example for other Christians. With three young children, he and his wife have pretty much got their hands full. i protect my off days and preserve them for my family. i also plan the entire years vacation at the beginning of each year, and ensure that no work coincides during those periods, he said. i also take turns to bring one child out for some one-to-one bonding. We make sure that it is very fair for them. and when it comes to disciplining our children, we dont spare the rod but we will always explain what they did wrong. He lives by the motto that

24 | Uncommon voices


Uncommon voices | 25

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10 Uv

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he t In

Mel Lee

s e o h S d e g a t n a v d sa

of the

My twin sister and I, together with our older brother, make daily decisions like all adults: care for the family, work, save money, pay utility bills promptly, and buy groceries. A typical day at home sees us huddling together for our family meeting. To count how muchor how littleis left of this months budget. To decide who among us will queue outside a church to get food vouchers. To deliberate on which utility bill to pay partially to keep our supply going. To convince ourselves that our three-year-old brother does not need milk to grow up healthy. My sister and I are 13, and our brother is 21. The three of us must keep the family afloat while our father is in jail.
tHE StORy ABOvE IS tRUE but it is not my own. My role was to put myself in the shoes of a young girl, Sally, who had to shoulder adult responsibilities at a young age. Her situation was one of several scenarios we had to role play at Walk a Mile in the Footsteps of the Needy, a simulation exercise organised in October by Central Singapore CDC. Methodist Welfare Services staff had to experience how poverty exacerbates the daily challenges families usually face. While the props were far from realmy little brother was a doll and the people manning the various agency booths were our colleaguesI found myself absorbed in the situation of the teenage girl. I could not wait for school to be over so I could pick up my brother from the childcare centre and queue up to pay our bills, only to find out that they had made a mistake. And when a neighbour had his child taken away by the government, I started to hover over my little brother like a mother hen. My elder brother had to get a job as we were starving. He turned up each week at the CDC only to be told that no part-time job was available. He came home frustrated and we were anxious. Meanwhile, several of our neighbours had been served eviction notices by HDB for failing to pay rent. We could only heave a sigh of relief that we still had a roof over our heads. But how long could $120 and several vouchers last? We had pawned what few pieces of jewellery and appliances we had.

As a mother myself, my heart went out to the girls, their brothers and their father. What anguish the father must have felt, leaving his children to fend for themselves. I recalled our recent holiday when my husband and I left our three kids in the care of our helper, my father-in-law and my husbands siblings. The kids were taken care of and sometimes had lunch and dinner at my in-laws place. Unfortunately, Sally and her siblings did not have such support from their extended family. Before we left for our two-week trip, we stocked our refrigerator and cupboards with our childrens favourite food. We left extra cash with our helper in case of an emergency. In Sallys case, an emergency situation would have wiped out whatever little they had. Shouldered with caregiving and housekeeping responsibilities, I assumed children like Sally are unable to enjoy luxuries like waking up at 10am on weekends with breakfast ready for them. They would have to care for younger siblings, tidy the house and get groceriesresponsibilities my children have yet to undertake. To paraphrase what Ernest Hemingway once wrote, it does one good sometimes to be without. Uv Mel Lee is the Senior Executive (Service Planning & Development) of Methodist Welfare Services.

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As a mother myself, my heart went out to the girls, their brothers and their father. What anguish their father must have felt...

This poverty simulation exercise can be arranged for the public to experience what it is like to be poor in Singapore. If you are interested, please enquire with Martin Chok at Both groups and individuals are welcome to participate.

Mel Lee

28 | Uncommon voices


s e l b u o D the Number of Bursary Aw

A total of $292,000 will be distributed to 483 needy primary school students, 364 secondary school students and 9 junior college students. In comparison, $123,700 was disbursed in 2009. The bursary will bless these students, and encourage them to focus and excel in their studies. This year, 20 students will be selected to receive a three-year award. It is a special derivative of the Bursary Programme called the MWS Torch Programme, and is generously sponsored by the JL Children Fund. We are grateful to our donors and supporters who have made it possible


for us to bless so many more students this year. In particular, we would like to thank Grace Methodist Church and the GC WSCS for their invaluable contributions.

tHIS yEAR, MwS wILL AwARD 856 bursaries to successful applicants, more than twice the number (352) given out last year. An unprecedented 1,052 applications were received compared to 574 the year before. This increase was partly due to the amendment of the qualifying criterion, whereby the applicants family minimum per capita income was raised from $350 to $450, in view of the rising costs of daily living.

Methodist churches partner us to disburse the funds

As with previous years, we are partnering with these Methodist churches to present the awards to the recipients: Ang Mo Kio MC, Covenant Community MC, Grace MC, Living Hope MC, Pentecost MC, Telok Ayer Chinese MC, The Methodist Church of the Incarnation, Faith MC, and Sembawang Tamil MC. Uv

for Methodist Welfare Services

MEtHODISt wELFARE SERvICES (MwS) has been awarded the Non-Profit Organisation of the year Award (Philanthropy Management) 2010 by the National Volunteerism and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC). In the award citation, NVPC said: Methodist Welfare Servicesa charity whose excellence in donor management and fundraising has enabled it to provide quality social services through its 13 centres and outreach services. Recognising the importance of philanthropy, MWS has put in place requisite people, policy and processes. This award is an acknowledgement of the combined effort and contribution of the entire MWS family, including the Methodist community: our supporters, volunteers, donors and Methodist Churches. The award also assures all our donors and supporters that MWS takes utmost care and responsibility in managing our funds. Through good governance and sound procedures, MWS ensures that funds generously donated benefit the needy in the most accountable way. We thank God for this blessing. Uv

Philanthropy Management Award

Donation Form
Mr/Mdm/Ms/rev/Dr/prof# __________________________________ Name ______________________________________________________ NriC/FiN No______________________________________ Sex M/F# address ___________________________________________________ ___________________________________________ (S ) i am pleased to make a contribution of the following amount One time Donation $250 $150 $100 $80 $50 Other amount ___________________________________________ Monthly Donation $80 $50 $20 $10 Other amount ___________________________________________ I would like to make my donation through Cheque No _________________________ Bank ______________ visa/Mastercard No (minimum $10)

Date of Birth _______________________________________________ Contact (Home) _________________ (Office) ___________________ (Mobile) ____________________________________________________ Occupation ________________________________________________ Email ______________________________________________________ place of Worship (if any) ___________________________________

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girO (please complete form below)

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Date _______________________________________________________ to: (Name of Bank) _____________________________________________ Branch ____________________________________________________
i/we# my/our#

Name of Billing Organisation: Methodist welfare Services Customer Name ___________________________________________ NriC/FiN No ______________________________________________

1) hereby instruct you to process BOs instructions to debit account 2) you are entitled to reject the BOs debit instruction if my/our# account does not have sufficient funds and charge me/us# a fee for this. you may also at your discretion allow the debit even if this results in an overdraft on the account and impose charges accordingly. 3) this authorisation will remain in force until terminated by your written notice sent to my/our# address last known to you or upon receipt of my/our# written revocation through Methodist Welfare Services.

My/Our# Name(s) (as in account) ________________________________


Monthly Donation (payment limit) $ _____________________________ My/Our# account Number: _________________________________ My/Our# Contact (tel/Fax) No(s) ____________________________
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to: Methodist welfare Services
this application is hereby rejected for the following reason(s) (please indicate) Signature/thumbprint# differs from the Banks records amendments not countersigned by customer Wrong account number account operated by Signature/thumbprint# Signature/thumbprint* incomplete/unclear# Others

7 1 7 1 0 3 3 0 3 3 0 1 6 5 6 9 2



account No. to be Debited

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authorised Signature


*For thumbprints, please go to the branch with your identification documents #please delete where applicable


Postage will be paid by addressee. For posting in Singapore only


MEtHODISt wELFARE SERvICES 70 BarKEr rOaD #05-01 SiNgapOrE 309936

We Give
In light of this festive season, MWS and our clients would like to give glory to God for the wonderful blessings we have received. We have been touched by many thanksgiving prayers from our clients, sent throughout the year. So to all our donors and volunteers, we sincerely thank you for your kind contributions. You have played an important role in allowing the needy to live life to the full.

Dear Lord,
I thank you for my dedicated teachers at DJoy Student Care Centre, who help me with my schoolwork and look after me everyday when my parents are working. I dont want to be angry or afraid anymore and I want to make good friends here. Amen.
Barbara*, 11 years old

I thank God for allowing me to work with a victim of spousal abuse and infidelity. After a painful divorce, she struggled to put her life together again but found it really difficult to provide a home for her young children. We were able to help her and she has since found a small HDB flat where she and her children can call home this Christmas.
Mrs Sze Toh Hong Eng, Senior Counsellor at Covenant Family Service Centre

MWS wishes you and your family a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!

*Name has been changed to protect our clients identity

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 U v






DJoy Child Care Centre & DJoy Student Care Centre Blk 1 Maude Road #03-30 Singapore 200001 S 6294 9960 X 6294 9597 U MwS Bursary Programme (administered by MWS HQ)

Daybreak Student Care Centre @ Naval Base Primary School 7 Yishun Avenue 4 Singapore 769028 S 6757 2907 X 6757 0795 U

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

Sembawang FSC Student Care Centre Blk 326 Sembawang Crescent #01-44, Singapore 750326 S 6754 2890 X 6754 0112 U

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


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

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

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


wesley Seniors Activity Centre Blk 25 Jalan Berseh Singapore 200025 S 6298 0195 X 6298 0245

Editor-in-Chief Jenny Bong Editorial Committee Pearl Lee Michelle Tan Peggy Ng

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.
Copyright 2010 MWS. All rights reserved.

Contributions and all advertising enquiries may be addressed to: Michelle Tan Senior Executive (Communications) Email: DID: 6478 4717 Postal and email address updates may be sent to: Clara Lick Manager (Fundraising) Email: DID: 6478 4723

Design & Production SNAP! Creative Pte Ltd 2, Soon Wing Road #03-08 Singapore 347893 Tel: 6292 0678 Fax: 6292 0072 Email:

MICA (P) 081/11/2009