Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Bringing Hope, Light and Joy with the Christmas Spirit to children at NUH (volunteer's piece)

The 12th of December was a special day for children at the National University Hospital (NUH). Our firm, Sia Partners, partnered with Daughters of Tomorrow (DOT) to spread the Christmas joy to the children in hospital who underwent treatments and surgeries.

The preparation for this event commenced a few months ago through DOT’s ‘50 for Hope’ Program. The program was a joint project between DOT and NUHkids to provide financial support to underprivileged child patients and employment opportunities for mothers.

Our colleagues contributed to the effort by raising nearly $2,000! This total was a combination of $50 pledges and purchases of the stuffed toys which were hand made by mothers who benefited from the Program. We could not be any happier with this outcome, especially as we are a relatively young company in Singapore, with just 12 team members as of last year.

On the big day, together with volunteers from DOT, we surprised the children in their wards with Christmas carols followed by a rocking beat box to uplift their mood, playing card tricks while Santa gave away hand-made stuffed owl, giraffe and octopus toys with his little helpers.

We saw that not every child could openly show their excitement and smiles as some are bedridden and just underwent treatments and/or surgeries. We were not discouraged but actually more excited to bring more life and colour to their day for that short 3 minutes we could spend with each of them. We hope that this will be a good memory for the children to one day share with their families and friends after recovery.

Being part of this with DOT was extremely memorable for all of us in the firm. We witnessed how the efforts made by the mothers sewing these stuffed toys made a difference to the children in NUH. There was no better way to end 2015 than seeing the children participate and their smiles light up!

From the CSR Leads for Sia Partners Singapore
Jennifer Yeo (jennifer.yeo@sia-partners.com)
Prashant Shende (prashant.shende@sia-partners.com)

About Sia Partners
Sia Partners is a unique management consulting firm headquartered in Paris, run by an international team and organized as a partnership. Through unparalleled industry expertise, we deliver superior value and tangible results to our clients.

In Asia, Sia Partners has offices in Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan, with a focus on financial consulting. It is currently ranked by Vault as the #7 Top Consulting Firm in Asia-Pacific. 

For more information, visit: www.sia-partners.com 
Singapore office: 3 Pickering Street, #02-38, 048660
Contact: +65 6653 3433

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Women's Economic Empowerment and Counterterrorism

On 20th November I was given the opportunity of a lifetime and an amazing platform to do an opening introduction of President Obama at the Young Southeast Asian Leaders’ Initiative Town Hall session in Kuala Lumpur. 

In the same week, Beirut and Paris came under terrorist attacks that shook the world, and the issues it opened up led to a new discovery and insight into how Daughters Of Tomorrow’s work in enabling underprivileged mothers into jobs fit into the larger picture of things.

What has the economic upliftment of women got to do with world peace?

The link became obvious when I read the article “The Mothers Of ISIS” on Huffington Post, and gained insight into how radicalism preys on youths who grow up in broken and impoverished families in Europe. Support groups have sprouted up for the mothers of young people who have turned to extremism and joined ISIS.  All this is great, but somewhat belated and reactive in my opinion.

What if we could prevent poverty from turning into hotbeds for radicalism?  By increasing income to these families by enabling mothers to work? By nipping resentment arising from marginalization in its bud as countries and economies develop, through leveling the playing field by helping struggling families gain access to skills, opportunities and jobs?

Isolating the issue of counterterrorism to the realm of politics and national security is ignoring our role to play, and relinquishing the control we have over shaping the safety and stability of our communities. Private sector and civil society have equal parts to play. Are we sensitized to the challenges and barriers faced by the poor? Are there ways we can provide opportunities for their uplift-ment? Can we as educated, resourceful and well-connected men and women do something in our own lives to provide connectedness, access and opportunities for the underprivileged amongst us?

Such an insight provides renewed impetus and increases the urgency for the work we do at Daughters Of Tomorrow.  If you lead a corporation who believes in inclusion and access to opportunities as a safeguard for the stability of our communities, get in touch at Empower@DaughtersOfTomorrow.org to make a difference. Make a donation to help us scale our work in bringing opportunities, skills, and jobs to mothers so that families can thrive.

Below is a transcript of my opening address at President Obama’s Town Hall. The video can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLfdNL_VaHs



Ladies and gentlemen, fellow young leaders, friends, distinguished guests, good afternoon. What an honor to be here.

My name is Carrie Tan, I am the Founder, and Executive Director of a non-profit in Singapore called Daughters of Tomorrow, working to enable the financial self-sufficiency of underprivileged mothers.

Less than 2 months ago, I left my sunny city-state for the journey of a lifetime called the YSEALI program in Washington DC, looking forward to expanding my perspectives as a community leader. Beyond expanded perspectives, I gained knowledge, tools, resources, as well as something a lot more special, I made an unlikely friend. My best friend from the program turned out to be Archie Anugrah from Indonesia, who is as different from me as night and day. Every day that we were working together in the same host organization, I would give him grief about the haze situation in Singapore, saying “Archie, please fix it.” And being the good-natured guy that he is, he would patiently explain to me the complexities of tackling the issue.

Archie works with youths, and I with women, but somehow, we managed to bond over the topic of the environment. In much the same way, many of us fellows bonded over shared experiences, some as fellow parents, fellow spouses, employees, entrepreneurs, activists, or civil service. We bonded, over our shared experience of missing our favorite and familiar foods. Most of all, we bonded over a common endeavor, to understand and learn from one another, in the pursuit of our aspirations to make the world better. There is nothing more gratifying, and this is the magic of the program, than a group of people from diverse backgrounds coming together, in the spirit of partaking in something bigger and larger than themselves.


However today, just 1 week after returning from DC, I woke up to a different world. I woke up to stories proliferating on social media, about terror, tragedies, fear, distrust, in the aftermath of the Beirut and Paris attacks. What a different world it is, from the one I was just immersed in the past 6 weeks – one of camaraderie, friendship, openness and dialogue. It saddens me, and made me realize how precious it is.

How precious it is, that we have a platform such as the YSEALI, for people to come together, for voices to be heard, for participation, and for the building of trust, to underpin how we as young leaders, shape the future of our societies, countries, our region and our world.

How precious it is, that no matter where we come from, how rich or poor, the color of our skin, or what religious beliefs we hold, that if we have taken real and positive action to better our communities, we can be enabled and empowered to do more.

Today, in the midst of increasing challenges and vulnerabilities facing our generation, we are gathered here because someone believes in the importance of openness, of dialogue, and collaboration.

Today, we are gathered here, 500 young leaders from Southeast Asia, because someone believes in the power of our dreams, the power of us, and the power of friendship, to make positive changes in the world.

Without further ado, let us welcome, the man who put these beliefs into action, who created the YSEALI program and gave us wings for our dreams, the President of the United States, Barack Obama!


More about Daughters Of Tomorrow at www.DaughtersOfTomorrow.org

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Indian NGO Gains Business Perspective

Loving it here in Kadapa -  finally we got the women working on proper tables instead of on the floor, and they've shown so much progress in managing production briefs, etc. Their English has improved and can now understand sewing instructions so much better.  

The local NGO - Aarti Home & Lalitha Women's Cooperative we work with has gradually gained a new business perpective over the past few years we've been working with them and are actively trying to get their own corporate gift orders locally to bring in sustainable revenue for the orphanage :) 

Here's a photo of Alice from Singapore training the women in a new product for Alice in DOT's World 

The biggest step is mindset change - having a progressive, sustainability-geared mindset will pave the way for plans, so we're really glad to have contributed to helping this organization gain that first footing. 

The next thing is resources. Yesterday afternoon, a storm blew up and the rains came in through this broken window at the sewing premises. The floor got wet. All the ladies gathered to move the materials away from the window. Power cuts are also still plaguing this remote town situated 6 hours from Hyderabad. We sure hope the corporate gifts business for Lalitha Cooperative picks up so that they can afford some new windows and a power generator! Or maybe some kind donors might show up? ;)

Super proud and happy with the ladies' progress -  on an individual skill level, as well as their mindsets! Even though I'm feeding mosquitoes here it's worth it!

Here are some pics of us with 2 girls at the orphanage - Peeru and Savitri who are apprentices and learning to make simple items like brooches :)

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Counting my blessings

2 days ago, Alice and I went for a home visit with social worker Hui Wen from AMK-SengKang Family Service Centre. The family we intend to reach out to has a dad, Mr Kong who is out-of-work for the past 1.5 years due to a slipped disc condition that continually plagues him despite surgery. Mom, Tip is busy with 2 daughters - the older one has mild autism, and the younger one, at 5, little angel she is, suffers from congenital scoliosis.

As a scoliosis patient myself, I know the pains and aches that are a chronic and daily part of life. But when I saw the multiple surgery scars which little Jia En has on her back, my heart literally twisted itself in pain. Such a young child, and yet she has to go through painful operations every 6 to 9 months for corrective surgery. What I was not aware of before meeting them was that while I had a permanent fixture of harrington rods fixed to my spine done at 12 years old, the doctors could not do the same for Jia En, because she still has many years of growing to do. In her dad's words, the surgical implants the doctors use for her are like "lego blocks", which need to be adjusted as she grows taller every few months. I can only imagine the emotional journey and burden the parents are carrying.

To break the ice with the shy little girl, I asked Jia En to check out my scar on my back, "See, Carrie Yiyi (Aunty) also got scar, same like yours!" Immediately, she opened up and started bringing toys to play with me, using a toy stethoscope to be "pretend doctor" and giving me an injection on my butt (haha!). Guess we bonded over our common misfortune!

Luckily for the family, a newspaper feature 3 years ago about Jia En's condition brought them lots of financial support from various sources. But in the long-run, the lack of income for the family is still a problem. That's where we hope to come in and help.

With the kind sponsorship from DOT's friend Fen Teo, we bought a new sewing machine for Tip (Jia En's mom) to use, so that she can pick up sewing again after 10 years of not having touched any craft work. Alice also visited the family again yesterday and spent a few hours teaching Tip how to make a simple pouch, as a beginner task. (We are getting some pouches made to be used as a sewing kit for our ladies in India.)

We hope that she can pick up the skills soon and hopefully some corporate orders come in for us soon so that we can parcel out more sewing work to Tip to earn more income from home.

Other than heartache for this little girl and for her parents, the one other thing I left the Kong family with is a sense of blessing - that at least I enjoyed 12 years of my childhood before my scoliosis condition had to be fixed.  My wish for little Jia En is that hopefully by the time she reaches puberty and past the growth spurt period, her scoliosis condition will stabilize in a much better state than mine, so that she can enjoy the rest of her life pain-free and free.

Here's a photo of Jia En holding the newspaper article that talked about her medical condition. Isn't she a sweet sweet angel?

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

New Journey, New Learnings with Hougang Care Centre

Today marks the beginning of a new experience and journey for us with Hougang Care Centre. Alice and I are excited, and also a little apprehensive, this being the first time we are working with a new type of beneficiary group. A little worried about whether we might say anything insensitive or wrong...

Many of us are not exposed to people who live with mental conditions, and it is also a new exposure for us.
Unknown to most members of the public, there is a group of people in Singapore who live tucked away in a tranquil corner of Buangkok area, an oasis where love and support is available to them for their rehabilitation, after they have gone through mental breakdown at some point in their lives. 

Hougang Care Centre is one of the mental health services of the Singapore Anglican Community Services (SACS). Started in 2002, it has a residential capacity of 178 beds(50 for women and 128 for men) and a day care service for those who are living in the community. The Centre is based on the Clubhouse model of psycho-social rehabilitation. This model focuses on the strengths, interests and talents of the individuals. It offers opportunities for members to engage in meaningful activities that will help them develop confidence, life skills and social skills through their involvement in working side-by-side with staff and volunteers in their journey of recovery.

So here we are today to explore a working partnership with a few ladies from here, and have started them on a craft training session. Alice is teaching them to make a new product from Alice in DOT's World - a padded sunglasses pouch! 

Alice teaching cutting of fabric using drafted paper patterns. 

How and where you pin the paper makes a difference to ease of work! :)

A beneficiary lady getting some hands-on practice.

Check back here for more updates about the turn-out of this handicraft project! We hope to identify one or two promising members to enrol for employment with Alice in DOT's World, so that they can earn some extra income working with us!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Social Collaboration - Businesses and Individuals Doing Good Together!

We're reaching the end of 2013, and we'd like to highlight some folks who have come up with great ideas to support Daughters Of Tomorrow's work in the past months. 

1) Big MNC helps DOT!

An enterprise information company OpenText has a very innovative marketing manager called Eying Wee. Eying came up with the brilliant idea to incentivize survey-responders by pledging $10 for every survey form completed! We received a total of $1,000 that went to help fund our Livelihood Programs.  

It's brilliant how when we put our minds to things, we can achieve win-win for everyone - this innovative incentive idea from Eying not only achieves the purpose of the survey, those who participated also feel good that they've helped contribute to a meaningful cause. And of course, the beneficiaries from DOT gets to acquire skills and tools that will serve them a long way! Thanks Eying, for the wonderful idea :)

Thank you,  :)

2) Big-hearted impact from Bitsy's efforts

Another lady we'd like to thank is Chelsey, the owner and designer of the online dress shop Our Bitsy Prints, who specializes in creating lovely cheongsams suitable for every-day-wear! Chelsey dedicated one of their lovely dress designs to support Daughters Of Tomorrow, giving all proceeds from these 7 dresses to our Livelihood program. We received $500 from this special do-good promo, which will help us with our 2014 January training trip to Kadapa!

Check out http://www.ourbitsyprints.com for the lovely creations. (Hint: We are now in discussion about having DOT's sewing ladies  hired to produce these beautiful dresses sometime in 2014. Stay tuned!)

3) When Shee Influences Many

Here's how one individual can create a ripple effect to rally friends to a cause:
One of our avid supporters and November baby Pamela Shee organized her birthday party this year and made it a fundraising effort for DOT! We auctioned some very nice photos taken by volunteer photographer Nicky during this year’s trip to India, and raised $2,957! Instead of having presents for herself, Pam urged her friends to come and buy gifts on the spot, giving all proceeds to DOT. 

Thanks to her efforts, we are now only $77,000 away from our Kadapa Building Fund target. We’ll be hitting our target very soon we have a couple of birthday auctions every month. Let us know if you’d like to put your birthday in DOT’s calendar for 2014! :)