Happenings

Youth disciples get up close and personal with the very poor

May 2009    

THE outlook of 20 Trackers changed drastically when they came face to face with the clients of the Methodist Welfare Services (MWS).

When Rachel Toh signed up for a four-week internship at an MWS Home, she did not expect to feed some of the elderly through their nose and stomach tubes. Not even in her wildest dreams did the 19-year-old imagine she would change the diaper of a full-grown resident either.

Gareth Lim, 18, was looking forward to working with the disadvantaged but nothing prepared him and his team for the stench, pests and junk that greeted them in an old woman’s flat. He was also shocked that a primary student he was tutoring could not even recognise the alphabet.

The Trackers had much to share about their internship at MWS centres, which was introduced only this year and is the third phase of a three-month programme for the youth under the TRAC Board of Youth Ministry.

The Rev Lai Kai Ming and Pastor Reuben Ng oversee the programme. The Rev Lai, who is Pastor of Pentecost Methodist Church, said that the attachment at MWS was incorporated so that the “youth will realise that missions is more than going overseas, that there is a great mission field back at home, and that they may realise God’s call for them to reach the least, last and lost … ” and continue serving in the social concerns ministry of The Methodist Church in Singapore.

The Trackers certainly did their part in the six centres they interned at.They helped to distribute food to needy families, tutored and organised school holiday activities for children, brought the elderly on an excursion, repaired donated computers, tidied cupboards and organised donated goods, and assisted the centres with administrative work, among other chores.

What they learnt
If anything, getting up close and personal with the very poor and very weak strengthened the youth’s resolve to continue helping the needy.

Said Rachel: “I learnt that I can be of comfort to the elderly residents. I never knew that I could be gentle and patient but when I came to the Home, these qualities just flowed out. I want to be a doctor and this internship has really opened my eyes to the residents, their needs and what I could do in the future.”

She is determined to continue volunteering at the Home. Gareth’s internship was with a Family Service Centre (FSC), which also runs a programme for the elderly. “I wasn’t looking forward to working with the elderly because of language issues but I think God helped me as I began to interact with them. He gave me the heart to feel for them. I gained patience through teaching the children; I learnt to be more creative to motivate them and keep them interested in reading.”

Cassandra Yeap, 20, was assigned to an FSC to assist students who have difficulty reading and speaking in English. She said: “My time at the centre allowed me to be exposed to a spectrum of difficulties that members of the community encounter that was beyond my previous knowledge or scope of experience. I have also come to appreciate how the centre meets those needs in a very real way.”

Another Tracker, Benjamin Ho, 18, said: “I was never even aware that there is such a thing as student care, where parents could send their primary school children to be taken care of while they work hard to make ends meet.” The attachment in a student care centre enabled him to find out how challenging it can be to educate children, not only academically, but also in life skills, he added.

Jazlyn Seet, 17, got to see a part of Singapore she was previously unaware of. She has also come to understand how “one person’s listening ear and kindness and support could help a person’s emotional and psychological well-being”.

Fulfilling work
Pastor Reuben Ng noted that the internship programme at MWS has been a “positive one” where the “youth really experienced fulfilling and meaningful work”.

Staff at the centres found the interns enthusiastic, compassionate and respectful of the clients. A centre director acknowledged that they came at the right time, when its students needed volunteers to assist them.

The MWS looks forward to having future generations of Trackers intern at its centres and helping to equip them for God’s service. In the meantime, others looking to volunteer at the MWS or its centres can call the MWS at 6478-4700, email Volunteer@mws.org.sg or visit www.mws.org.sg

Internship at MWS centres strengthens their resolve to continue helping the needy

Mel Lee is the Assistant Manager (Communications) of the Methodist Welfare Services.

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