100 Wishes: Making a Difference to Women and Children in Singapore

In this interview, we hear from Nithya Karthikeyan, the 100 Wishes Project Lead for 2020, on the plans in the pipeline for this year's cycle of 100 Wishes, one of the flagship programmes under YWLC's Community Engagement (CE) subcommittee, and her personal experience from volunteering.

We also speak to Lorraine Lim, Head, Direct Services, Singapore Council of Women's Organisations (SCWO), who shares some feedback from the beneficiaries of the programme.

Can you tell us what 100 Wishes is about and who does the programme aim to serve?

Nithya Karthikeyan, 100 Wishes Project Lead: 100 Wishes is one of YWLC’s CE flagship programmes – we run a combination of recreational and life-skills workshops for marginalised women and children from various shelters in Singapore.

For this cycle, we are collaborating with our long-term partner SCWO, and the shelters we are supporting are the Star Shelter, SHINE Children & Youth Services and Anglican Family Centre.

Our volunteers and trainers aim to foster a nurturing environment for our beneficiaries to learn and build new skills – we have covered diverse themes such as health & wellness, financial planning, baking, art-journaling, and resumé writing.

100 Wishes hopes to offer an avenue for these strong and capable women to upskill and make meaningful changes to their daily routines, life goals and family affairs. They deserve every opportunity to chase their dreams, and we strive to support them along the way!

As one of the project leads for this year’s 100 Wishes, can you share with us what are some of the plans for this year’s collaboration with SCWO?

Nithya: This year’s programme is unlike any other. The aim is to empower SCWO’s Star Shelter residents to put what they learnt into practice and support senior residents at the Society for the Aged Sick. Currently, our shelter residents and volunteers are busy gearing up for the Star Givers Event in October 2020 – an exciting morning of theatrical performances, crafts & games to bring a smile to our senior citizens!

Since the mothers and children have developed a keen interest in arts & crafts-related activities through our workshops, our YWLC volunteers will coach the talented shelter residents to lead dance shows, origami sessions and much more on the day.

Given the social distancing norms, we are changing our approach and moving our training to digital platforms. This is a new approach for both YWLC and SCWO, and we hope to build on this to strengthen our programme.

What made you want to volunteer with CE and particularly 100 Wishes? Care to share any memorable moments from your volunteering experience?

Nithya: Last year, the CE subcommittee and I organised a picnic for the

mothers and children at Botanic Gardens - we had a storytelling activity and held a leaf-art tote painting session, which led to the creation of colourful tote-bag souvenirs. It was truly heartening to see our SCWO-YWLC family come together and share a few laughs over yummy donuts.

For some of the residents, this was their first visit to the park with their children and friends; it was humbling to see their unbridled joy and appreciation for such a small event that most of us would have taken for granted. Through this, I realised how I could channel the spirit of giving, in line with the goals of CE and 100 wishes. And now, I’m excited to steer the course for 2020!

How has 100 Wishes impacted SCWO’s beneficiaries?

Lorraine Lim, Head, Direct Services, SCWO: 100 Wishes has created many opportunities for SCWO’s beneficiaries to upskill themselves, by conducting different workshops under various themes such as job training, positive parenting, and health and wellness.

The workshop on job search strategies taught the beneficiaries the different avenues and resources available for job hunting and how to access and navigate job portals.

In 2018, YWLC had also conducted a workshop on image styling, equipping beneficiaries with knowledge on how to dress professionally. This series was especially useful for many of our beneficiaries who were job-seeking or looking to upgrade themselves.

The series of workshops that focused on parenting skills and mother-child tandem activities were conducted by experts and professionals from the relevant fields.

The workshops were an avenue for mother-child bonding, especially for the mothers who are busy working as they have to financially provide for their children, leaving them little time to interact with their children.

An example of such an activity was the Mother’s Day Cupcake Decoration event organised as part of 100 Wishes in 2019. The mothers and their children learned how to bake and decorate cupcakes with ganache and fondant icing, and the participants shared how delighted they were to be spending time together.

​​In the workshops on healthy living, a dietician shared about using body mass index (BMI) to gauge health,​​ identifying healthier food options in the supermarket, and creating a healthy plate.

The beneficiaries learnt that healthy eating does not have to be expensive but could be done with simple ingredients. The workshops were so well-received that a second round of workshops were held.

Can you share with us any feedback from the beneficiaries of the programme?

Lorraine: 100 Wishes was positively received by our beneficiaries. The workshops on positive parenting, job hunting, and health and wellness provided knowledge that they could apply to their lives. In addition, having professionals conduct the workshops gave credibility to the content being delivered.

Mothers learnt that they did not have to spend a huge amount of​​ money on children’s activities, and instead, simple things like baking together could also put a smile on their children’s faces. They look forward to workshops from YWLC as they know it will always be filled with fun activities.

How would SCWO like to see 100 Wishes develop in future?

Lorraine: We hope to see the 100 Wishes continue to empower beneficiaries with different types of knowledge imparted through the various workshops as well as provide an avenue for them to engage in enjoyable learning, even as they heal from the trauma of abuse.

100 Wishes is one of the three flagship YWLC CE programmes to give back to the community. Read more about another CE flagship programme, Pay It Forward Mentorship Programme, and its impact to the younger generation of girls in Singapore here.

If you'd like to volunteer with the Community Engagement subcommittee, please contact us here. Stay tuned to our social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn) for more information on volunteering opportunities. Please note that only YWLC members can take part in CE activities. If you would like to volunteer with us but are not a member yet, you can sign up to be a member here or find out more about membership here. Click here to subscribe to YWLC's monthly newsletter and be the first to get our latest updates in your inbox!

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