In this new series on the Methodist Welfare Services, we would like to give you a glimpse of our social service ministry carried out in our centres. So get to know our staff as they share about their work and experiences.
‘MY NAME is Elin Poh Su-Ching and I have been working at the Learning Centre of Kampong Kapor Family Service Centre as an executive officer and teacher for the past nine years. Besides doing administrative work, I teach children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Ours is a special programme with individual teaching goals; I plan the module for each child based on the psychologist’s screening tests.
Our students, aged six to 10, attend mainstream schools. Most of them come from non-English speaking homes and others have learning disorders, such as dyslexia, autism and attention deficit disorder, that prevent them from keeping up with the learning pace in school, especially when it comes to the English language. These children stay in our programme for up to two to two-and-a-half years.
Despite having been in this ministry for close to a decade, I have never found it boring as each student is unique.
My work has taught me to empathise with children and to be precise in my instructions and communication so that they have a clear understanding of my expectations. I have also learnt to garner their parents’ support to help instil good study habits at home.
Being in close contact with the parents, I fully understand their hopes and love for their children. I, too, regard children as precious individuals with special talents, and they are to be nourished with love and care.
Let me share an experience with one of my students. I will call him Ming. Ming had difficulty expressing himself. Each time I gave him a challenging task, he would tear his hair vigorously. He would resort to scratching and pinching me or throwing a tantrum when he was overly frustrated. His mother, who often waited for him during the lesson, would scold him harshly as she felt he was wasting time and hard-earned money. This upset him even more.
I spoke to his mother about this and suggested that she could go grocery shopping while her son was having lessons. I explained that Ming needed time to learn how to communicate properly. The initial few weeks were the hardest. Later, whenever he had any difficulty, Ming managed to indicate the problem either through pointing or gesturing. Towards the end of his 2½ years at the Learning Centre, he had learnt to express himself and his difficulties.
It was extremely rewarding to hear him talk about his interest in Pokémon trading cards. When he could not manage in English, he would ask me if he could speak in Mandarin and he would ask me to translate.
I mentioned earlier that most of the families we serve in this area are non-English speaking. As a result, my spoken Mandarin and Malay have improved tremendously – after countless hilarious mispronunciations and awkward grammatical structure. The students’ parents in turn have learnt some basic English too.
My favourite Bible verse is Psalm 121: “I have done what is just and right; do not leave me to my oppressors.” I pray that God will always teach me what is good and right for my students so that they can move on with their lives and be the best they can be.’
MWS needs your support to help Ming and other disadvantaged children. In financial year ended March 31, 2007, some 5,500 at-risk children and youth, families, frail elderly, terminally ill and destitute persons were served by the MWS.
Kampong Kapor Family Service Centre is a community outreach of the Methodist Welfare Services and Kampong Kapor Methodist Church. Address: Blk 2 Kitchener Road, #03-89 Singapore 200002
Tel: 6299-7662 Fax: 6294-2116 Email: email@example.com. org.sg