PART 3: THE SOCIAL SERVICES MINISTRY OF THE METHODIST WELFARE SERVICES
The July 25 wedding of Renior Tabboga and Desiree Bernadino created a buzz at Bethany Methodist Nursing Home. Desiree, the bride and a senior nursing aide at the Home, talks about their vocation.
‘OUR wedding was very special for many reasons: Renior and I are among the longest serving foreign staff in the Methodist Welfare Services; Ms Nallie Liew and Mr Chng Hang Kee, both nursing officers, were our witnesses and my “father” and “mother” for the day. In short our wedding day was very much a Bethany affair as we were surrounded by friends and colleagues from the Home.
Renior, 34, started out as a nursing aide at Christalite Methodist Home in 1998. In a move to develop him professionally, he was transferred to Bethany Methodist Nursing Home in 2002 where he was promoted to senior nursing aide. In 2006, he passed the Singapore Nursing Board’s enrolment examinations and was appointed an assistant nurse.
In 1999, at age 22, I joined the Methodist Home for the Aged Sick (MHAS) as a nursing aide armed with a certificate in midwifery. When the Home closed, I was among the group that helped to set up Bethany Methodist Nursing Home. I am now a senior nursing aide.
Renior and I are among thousands of Filipinos who have left home to find better prospects abroad. We first met at a training workshop many years ago and our romance blossomed from there. Maybe we will settle down in Singapore, but for now we feel blessed to have found a lovely “second home” in Bethany.
We are among the 111 staff members who work to feed, clean, bathe, walk and nurse 271 residents. However, this journey is more than a job for us. More than 90 per cent of Bethany’s residents are over 60 years old. They are weak, sick, disabled, suffering from dementia or dying. Many are without families and friends. Some are still badly scarred by broken relationships and carry lifelong hurts and bitterness. They rely heavily on us for their physical and emotional needs.
Renior and I have learned to accept and care for the people under our care. Yes, we have experienced the residents’ despondency, temper tantrums and disruptive behaviour like being pelted with food and other things. We thank God for the ability to sense their deeper need and serve them with compassion.
One challenge Renior and I face, despite our many years in Singapore, is learning the many Chinese dialects spoken by the elderly residents. Thankfully we are able to express ourselves through body language, gestures and smiles. Occasionally, we ask our Singapore colleagues for help in translation.
My colleagues have remarked that in spite of being surrounded by the sick and the weak daily I always seem upbeat and joyful. Indeed I am happy to serve the residents as they have become a part of my life. God has been and will always be my helper and He will continue to give me the love, compassion and strength to take care of those in my charge.
My husband finds contentment in the fact that at the end of the day he has done something to help someone who needed his care. He too believes that God is with us always and we can call on Him for help when in need.
Working with the elderly and witnessing the vulnerability of life in Bethany daily has changed our outlook. I am now more aware of the preciousness of life.
Renior says: “Life is short, therefore it is important to be happy, live meaningfully and be thankful for all daily blessings, big or small.’
Bethany Methodist Nursing Home is a community outreach of the Methodist Welfare Services.
Address: 9 Choa Chu Kang Avenue 4 Singapore 689815
Tel: 6314 1580 Fax: 6314 1576
The MWS needs your support to help the disadvantaged. In financial year ended 31 March 2007, some 5,500 at-risk children and youth, families, frail elderly, terminally ill and destitute persons were served monthly by the MWS.