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!