Singapore, 30 November 2013 – A total of 216 needy students from primary to junior college levels, including those from families of ex-offenders, received bursaries today ranging from $300 to $500. The bursary served as a reward to the students for receiving above average results in their final examinations this year, despite challenging family situations.
About $80,000 worth of bursaries was distributed by REACH Community Services Society (RCSS) at its award ceremony organised in collaboration with ISCOS (Industrial & Services Co-operative Society), an organisation that provides assistance to ex-offenders and their families. The event was held in Bishan Park Secondary School with the theme “Realising Dreams”.
Mr Hri Kumar Nair, Member of Parliament for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, graced the event. He told the students in his speech: “It is all about hard work, what we believe in and what we are passionate about. You did well because you had a strong army of people who are always ready to support you such as your parents, your teachers and the community.”
Addressing the parents, he said: “As parents, everything we do is for our children. Our goal is to make sure their lives are better than ours. We need to stay together as a community and continue supporting one another.”
Ms Ng Ai Ling, RCSS Executive Director, said: “We started the REACH Bursary Programme in 2009 to support children and youths from low-income families to pursue their academic dreams. We believe that every child and every youth matters. Each one of them has the potential to be the best they can be. No one, especially those from disadvantaged family backgrounds, should stop reaching for their dreams.”
Mdm Katijah,34 (not her real name), was thrilled that two of her children aged 15 and 11 both received bursaries. “My kids are so happy that they can use the money to buy revision books and because of this, they are more motivated to study harder.”
Mdm Cathy, 28 (not her real name), also shared, “I tell my daughter every year that you will be rewarded if you study hard and this year she is receiving the bursary. We are both very happy that we can use the money to buy school books and other school necessities for next year.”
Beneficiary Profiles: ISCOS
Sarah, 9 and her mother Mdm Cathy, 28 (not their real names), can finally breathe a sigh of relief as school expenses such as books and a school bag will be paid for next year, as Sarah will be awarded a bursary for achieving above average results in her school examination. The family depends on the father as a sole bread winner who was forced to quit his full time job to take care of his ailing father. He currently works part time as a cleaner and brings back a meagre sum of $600 per month, which is barely enough for their daily expenses.
Mdm Cathy said,” I tell my daughter every year that you will be rewarded if you study hard and this year she is receiving the bursary. We are both very happy that we can use the money to buy school books and other school necessities for next year.”
Mdm Cathy hopes that her daughter will continue to put in her best effort in school and be rewarded, which will in turn encourage her to do even better.
Nora, 8 (not her real name) comes from a complex family background where her mother, Mdm Aidah, 35, (not her real name) a divorcee, was forced to quit her job to take care of her critically ill grandmother. Nora’s father is in and out of prison often and the family is unable to depend on him. The family currently does not have a source of income and have to rely on relatives for basic necessities. Despite having to face such difficulties, Nora is resilient and has even managed to bag above average scores in her examinations to enable her to receive a bursary.
An extremely grateful Mdm Aidah said,” I feel so honoured that Nora is able to receive this award and I am very appreciative to those who have made this possible. I am so proud of her and I am sure that she will be motivated to study harder when she gets to buy new books and school stuff that we have never been able to afford without this bursary.”
Mdm Aidah hopes that Nora will continue to study hard so that she can grow up to be successful in life and do her family proud.
Anand, 15 and Nila, 11 (not their real names) were both selected to receive the bursary this year for achieving above average results in their final examinations. This has been no easy feat for the siblings as their family struggles to make ends meet. Their parents were divorced and their father is still serving time in prison. Their mother, Mdm Katijah, 34 (not her real name) earns a meagre $500 per month as a freelance housekeeper.
Anand helps out with the household expenses by taking on a part-time job in a fastfood chain. He juggles his studies, his job, and helping his mother with household chores. Nila, on the other hand, has not always been in a good state of health and her mother constantly worries about her. Medical expenses also take up a good portion of Mdm Katijah’s salary.
The siblings are very close to their mother and they have made her very proud for being able to achieve good grades and be eligible for the bursary award this year despite their family problems. The bursary awards that Nila and Anand will get will ease some of their financial burden and help them with academic and family expenses. It is Mdm Katijah’s heartfelt wish that her children be independent and perform well in school so that they will have a bright future ahead.
Beneficiary Profiles: REACH
John (not his real name) has been selected to receive the REACH Bursary this year for good progress in his studies. His grades might seem average to the casual observer but John’s academic performance is a big change from the past.
Coming from a broken and complex family, John has mostly been left alone to care for himself. Abandoned by his parents, he currently stays with his grandmother and uncle, who is an odd job labourer.
John used to get into trouble at school and was previously involved with school gangs and caught for rioting. While serving a community service order he came into contact with REACH Youth, an arm of REACH Community Services Society. The social workers at REACH Youth engaged John in dragon boating, a sport which has cultivated discipline and purpose in John and helped him to manage his emotions.
John has completed his first year at ITE College Central and is looking forward to continue doing well in school. His mentor and social worker, Joe Chan, has observed many positive changes in him and says the financial support from the REACH Bursary helps to ease the burden of his uncle who is the sole breadwinner for John and his grandmother.
Ali (not his real name), aged 8, has done very well in school this year and is set to receive the REACH Bursary award on Saturday, 30 November. Scoring distinctions in both English and Malay, Ali’s academic performance has improved much from last year.
Madam Siti is very proud of Ali. His success is an encouragement to her to keep working hard to support the family. After years of being a stay-at-home mom, Madam Siti was forced to return to work last year to make ends meet. The REACH Bursary award has helped to alleviate the family’s financial burdens and given Madam Siti more peace of mind.
Ali sets a good example as the eldest child of 3 children by Madam Siti (not her real name). He is becoming an effectively bilingual student who not only does well academically but also helps out at home and looks after his sisters’ needs— this includes the deliberate choice to talk to his sisters only in English at home.
Madam Siti hopes that Ali will continue doing well in school, and that all her children will have a bright future ahead of them.
About ISCOS (INDUSTRIAL & SERVICES CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY LTD)
ISCOS is a Co-operative with a mission to help ex-offenders and their families. Established in 1989, it has now over 13,000 ex-offender members who have benefited from various programmes and initiatives, such as employment and skills training, support and guidance in the community, and other social services.
Through the Yellow Ribbon Fund-ISCOS Fairy Godparent Programme (FGP), ISCOS extends assistance to the families of ex-offenders, particularly young and impressionable children. Anchored on three key components, Student Development, Family Support and Home Environment, FGP aims to break intergenerational offending cycle by providing opportunities to the children to achieve their academic potential so that they will become contributing members of the society in future.
About RCSS (REACH COMMUNITY SERVICES SOCIETY)
RCSS was founded by Grace Assembly of God to help the hurting and needy in our community. Registered as a charitable organization in 1999 and approved as an Institution of Public Character (IPC) since 2009, RCSS has been steadfast in offering community support and services to individuals and families through various community projects, such as the REACH Bursary and REACH-ISCOS Mentoring Programme. Since collaboration with ISCOS in 2011, RCSS has given out close to $260,000 in bursaries to over 680 beneficiaries.
RCSS has three community touchpoints: REACH Family Service Centre strengthens families residing in Bishan, Sin Ming, Shun Fu and Thomson through financial assistance and casework and counselling; REACH Youth empowers youths-at-risk through mentoring sessions and sports engagement programmes; REACH Counselling builds enduring marriages and resilient families through family and marital work.