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MCI (P) 051/07/2019

AUGUST 2019

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CONNECT

RAMESHKKUMAR AKSHYA

From Intern to

International Motion Graphics Star 02

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The Bicentennial – Our Journey as a People

Project Athena: A Decade of Helping Single Mothers

Get Together with the Family


CEO’S MESSAGE

Mdm Shamala Masilamany and family with Mr Anbarasu Rajendran at the Project Athena Mother's Day celebrations.

Dear Friends, We recently celebrated Mother’s Day at SINDA with families from Project Athena, where I met Madam Shamala Masilamany and her two children, Roven and Kirttana (pictured above). Amidst the fun and laughter, I could feel the strong bonds that these mothers share with their children and how close they are with one another. It was evident that it is through precious moments like these that family bonds grow stronger. Our family ties are the very first relationships each one of us forms. I cherish the time I have spent with my parents and loved ones, from my boyhood to adulthood, and these memories are what I look back at fondly till today. Now, as a father of two children, I put much emphasis on our family being there for one another and on building lifelong closeness. Importantly, we spend time together and use these valuable moments to share what’s going on in our lives, creating an atmosphere of trust where we can be open with one another.

Such values are reinforced through programmes such as Project Athena, which is one of many family programmes that SINDA arranges for families. We aim to have something for everyone in the family and to create meaningful opportunities for families to interact, amidst their busy schedules. Through our family bonding activities, families get to spend time with one another, visiting parks, nature trails and engaging in fun activities. Our regular parenting workshops also help parents understand how to nurture cohesive families and how to better relate to their children and create stronger links. You can visit www.sinda.org.sg/family to find out more about our family programmes. For families that need a helping hand, our social workers and counsellors are on hand at our SINDA Family Service Centre (SFSC). The SFSC’s impactful assistance programmes help families overcome challenges, gain a positive outlook in life and increase their resilience.

This multi-faceted emphasis on nurturing happy and cohesive families is a focal point for SINDA. We want to cultivate strong families, which can in turn provide strong and nurturing environments for our children in their journey of growth. How strong our children are— mentally and emotionally in dealing with life’s experiences—very much depends on the values that we inculcate in them from their early years. This is why a happy and cohesive family is important: it shapes us into who we are. You must be familiar with the saying “It takes a village to raise a child”. SINDA, together with many other community groups and agencies are working with families to ensure positive outcomes for our children. So let us all do our part, by ensuring that our children have a strong support system to depend upon, and by giving them the best possible opportunities to succeed in life.

Anbarasu Rajendran CEO, SINDA

CONTENTS 01

Looking Back

06–08

Interview

• Rameskkumar Akshya: From Intern to International Motion Graphics Star

02–03

Editorial

10–12

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• Dad's the Way • Special Thanks for a Special Group • Family Bonds • Youth Continue Their Impact on Community

• The Bicentennial — Our Journey as a People

Feature

• Project Athena: A Decade of Helping Single Mothers

Event Highlights

14–15

Get Together with the Family 16

Quiz-O-Mania 17

One of Us • Rajani Rajandran

PUBLISHER Singapore Indian Development Association EDITORIAL TEAM Corporate & Marketing Communications Division CHIEF EDITOR Ravindran Nagalingam, COO, SINDA DEPUTY EDITOR Dhanasegaran Narayanasamy PRODUCTION EDITORS Priyaa Vasudevan, Manesh Rangarajan, DESIGN & LAYOUT Green House Design + Communications PRINTER Stamford Press Pte Ltd, Licence No: L022/04/2012 TO SUBSCRIBE to SINDA Connections or inform us of a change of mailing address, send your updated home or office address to connections@sinda.org.sg. TO CONTRIBUTE towards the SINDA Fund (to start contributing or revise contributions), please contact us at 1800 295 3333, or visit www.sinda.org.sg.


HIGHLIGHTS

LOOKING BACK VISIT BY MR SAM TAN Mr Sam Tan, Minister of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Ministry of Social and Family Development, paid SINDA a visit on the morning of 26 March 2019. Mr Tan heard the areas of focus for SINDA, while affirming our good work for the Indian community. He also toured the SINDA Family Service Centre facilities and learnt about our unique programmes and services.

MIND YOUR MANGROVES 99% of Singapore’s original mangroves have vanished, but what’s left has a new group of young conservation advocates in the SINDA Young Explorers. This group of 26 7-to-11-year-olds spent 21 March during the holidays discovering the biodiversity in our local mangroves, through a workshop held at SINDA. From interacting with starfish, sea cucumbers and hermit crabs in a petting pool and marine artefacts in a Mystery Box, they went on to creating posters and making presentations on mangrove conservation. Singapore’s natural heritage is in good hands!

THE DAYS GLIDE BY WHEN YOU’RE HAVING FUN 20 teenagers slipped on in-line skates—then tried not to slip down—during the first two days of the March holidays. Guided by trained instructors at the Nee Soon Sports Centre, the participants of our GAME programme discovered new balance in their lives.

LET US GUIDE YOU Project Guide, a community-based homework support programme for Primary 3 to Secondary 5 students, has been expanded to 16 centres islandwide since the start of the year. With the increased accessibility, more than 150 students have been able to receive support for their homework assignments from trained tutors. Visit www.sinda.org.sg/project-guide for more information or to sign up.

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EDITORIAL

The Bicentennial Our Journey as a People By Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister, Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for Finance and Education and President, SINDA This year, we are commemorating Singapore’s Bicentennial – it has been 200 years since the founding of modern Singapore by Sir Stamford Raffles. The significance of the Bicentennial can only be understood against the broader backdrop of our history. Our history did not begin in 1819. It goes back 700 years to the original founding by Sang Nila Utama, followed by the rise of a kingdom and the beginnings of a maritime emporium based on regional trade. Even back then, trade was our lifeblood and people from many places came here to do business. For example, Singapura—as we were called then—was where the Chinese Emperor purchased his war elephants! Due to its small size, Singapore was subjected to periods of vassalage and external attacks. In the first 500 years there were two peaks of prosperity, after which Singapore fell into decline. That changed when Raffles landed in Singapore in 1819, an event which set us on a new and upward trajectory. We were first a settlement, and then we grew and prospered as a colony. Eventually, with self-determination, we progressed from internal self-governance (1959), to merger (1963) and finally, independence (1965). But the history of Singapore is not just about political developments. It is also the story of our people. This includes the story of the Indian community in Singapore. When Raffles arrived on the ship “The Indiana” he was accompanied by Naraina Pillai, a Tamil civil servant in the British colonial service. Attracted by Raffles’ vision for Singapore, Pillai decided to put down roots here, first as Chief Clerk in the Colonial Treasury and subsequently in the private sector as Singapore’s first Indian brick-business owner and contractor. He was a pioneering community leader who initiated the building of Sri Mariamman Temple in South Bridge Road.

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Pillai was the first of many Indians to come to Singapore in search of a better life. Initially, there was a small community of troops, traders and merchants. In the late 1800s, more Indians migrated to Singapore for work and trade: Tamils, Parsees, Bengalis, Sindhis and Chettiars, among others. Indian shopkeepers first established their businesses around Serangoon Road, which eventually became Little India— a unique and distinct area now beloved by Singaporeans and foreigners alike. There were over 16,000 Indians by the end of the 19th century, making up 9% of the population at the time—a figure remarkably similar to the current percentage. Such migrations are not confined to the past. This millennium has seen new Indians arriving in Singapore, with many settling as permanent residents and citizens. Just like our forefathers, they, too, seek a better life and have found in Singapore a safe haven and a home. Regardless how long they have been here, the Indians who have come have, in one way or another, contributed to the success of Singapore and the rich tapestry of our cultural heritage. Originally traders from South India, the Chetti Melakans (also known as Peranakan Indians) came to our part of the world during the Malacca Sultanate, intermarried with local Malay and Chinese, settled in the peninsular and eventually developed a distinct identity of their own. After the reign of the Malacca Sultanate, some moved to the new settlement of Singapore, where their descendants continue to live today. This is but one example of the uniqueness of the Indian community in Singapore. Our community is further enriched by the Punjabis, Malayalees, Gujaratis and many others, besides those already mentioned.


Photo credit: Chettiar Temple Society

Therefore, while the Bicentennial commemorates an important turning point in our history, it also pays tribute to the story of our journey as a people. It has been a journey that has made us who and what we are, and which has given us our uniquely Singaporean DNA, which includes openness, multiculturalism and a strong sense of self-determination. Openness has been the engine of our success and prosperity. When Raffles made Singapore a free port, it was the game-changer of that era; it took Singapore beyond regional trade and introduced us into global trade, diverting international trade routes to Singapore. Free trade continues to be the foundation of our success and this is why we strongly support it, especially now when protectionist winds are blowing across the world.

Self-determination and sovereignty are what the Pioneer and Merdeka Generations fought for—the right to determine our own destiny and be the authors of our future. These are hard-won, precious rights. As history shows, larger countries will always be tempted to assert themselves over small ones. For that reason, defence is the cornerstone of our sovereignty and we advocate and uphold the rule of law, domestically and on the international stage. We will be friends with all who wish to be friends with us, but we will also defend and protect what is ours. The Bicentennial is therefore a pertinent time for reflection. Contemplate and celebrate this journey that has strengthened Singapore and our identity as Singaporeans.

Multiculturalism is the bedrock of our social fabric. Singapore was, is and must continue to be a place where people can achieve their dreams, live in peace and harmony, understand each other’s differences and have the freedom to celebrate their ethnicities and cultural practices.

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CALLING ALL OVERSEAS GRADUATES!

SINDA will host the annual SINDA Excellence Awards (SEA) Ceremony in September 2019. The SEA award is the highest honour bestowed by SINDA upon Indian students who have achieved excellence in their respective fields. This ceremony will also honour returning graduates from leading overseas universities who fulfil the following criteria:

Apply at

www.sinda.org.sg/ seaodsc2019 by Tuesday, 20 August 2019

• Must be Singapore Citizens or Singapore Permanent Residents of Indian origin

For further details, please contact:

• Must have graduated in 2018 / 2019 Academic Year

Ms Kannagee kannagee@sinda.org.sg

• Must have obtained First Class Honours or its equivalent in their respective course of study • Graduate university must be ranked higher than NUS and NTU in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019, in its respective disciplines

Ms Suguna suguna@sinda.org.sg

Hello Baby! Gift Hamper

Each newborn is a new beginning, filled with hopes, dreams and aspirations for the future. SINDA wishes each and every child’s life to be filled with love, happiness and laughter. To celebrate this joyous occasion, SINDA is offering a Baby Gift Bundle containing accessories that will nurture your child into an early and active learner!

Register now at www.sinda.org.sg/hellobaby or call 1800 295 3333 for more information! *Terms and Conditions Apply


FEATURE

PROJECT ATHENA: A DECADE OF HELPING SINGLE MOTHERS

The trauma of separation. The loss of financial support. The emotional strain of being the sole caregiver for children. Single parents face these challenges and more, with low self-esteem resulting in withdrawal from society. These stressors have a ripple effect on their children’s aspirations, putting the whole family in a vulnerable position when it comes to personal development and growth. In 2009, SINDA launched Project Athena to help single Indian mothers turn their lives around. Since then, more than 500 mums and children have received the social and emotional support they need to be more resilient in the face of adversities. Empowered, the mums have become confident, independent and self-sufficient individuals. They have formed a support network with us and even tighter bonds with their children, whom we’ve seen blossom into secure and successful youth. Critical to Project Athena’s success is Mr Rajoo Amurdalingam, whose monetary commitment since its inception has enabled our various initiatives within Project Athena to take off. His dedication further extends to personally attending events to meet and inspire the beneficiaries. He says, “All of us exist in this world for a purpose and that purpose is to make a difference in someone else’s life.”

Nursing student Anu, 17, is grateful as she shares how her younger brothers, Surya and Pravin have progressed in swimming and rugby through the scheme and especially how Mr Rajoo supplied shoes and rugby gear for 11-year-old Pravin. With pride, she shares that Pravin is now one of the best players at Vikings Junior Rugby Club, where he attends weekly trainings and participates in inter-club matches.

The businessman emphasises that “profit must benefit everyone”, which is why he gives so much to the community. And Project Athena goes beyond financial assistance and counselling. We provide opportunities for families to celebrate and bond together through carefully curated activities. There is even a fund children can tap on to pursue their sporting interest to nurture their talents. Mr Rajoo, a sportsman himself, is also mentor to some of them.

Ever the exemplary volunteer, Mr Rajoo’s efforts match his generosity. “Do help in deed and in kind,” he urges. “Whilst giving money is a noble and necessary way to help, I want to advocate the act of helping in deeds as well. It is great to pay for the meals of the poor, but never let that substitute the joy of cooking the meal, serving it, or even personally feeding the people in need,” he says.

EXCERPTS FROM A MESSAGE FROM MR RAJOO AMURDALINGAM Managing Director, The National Forwarder and long-term donor Time has flown by and it has been 10 years since I made a pledge to help start Project Athena. SINDA periodically shares stories with me about how the many single mothers in Project Athena have been helped and each time my heart is immensely warmed. It is good to be reminded that life is not just about one’s own journey, but also about extending help to those around us. I sometimes wonder who has been more blessed—is it the single mother, or me? I would say the latter. I can now say that I truly understand the meaning of ‘paying it forward’ and the joy that comes with it. I want to encourage everyone to nurture this spirit of giving. Sometimes, it is not so much about what you are able to do, as what you are prepared to do. It has been a privilege and pleasure to journey with SINDA.

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INTERVIEW INTERVIEW

RAMESHKKUMAR AKSHYA:

FROM INTERN TO INTERNATIONAL MOTION GRAPHICS STAR 6


Former Nanyang Polytechnic student Rameshkkumar Akshya, 20, chased a dream internship all the way to Hollywood and came back with her name in a blockbuster movie. Is being a Motion Graphic Artist the career you always wanted? When did you know it was for you? R: I was already interested in cartoons and movies in primary school, but it was in secondary school that I was really inspired to pursue design. I studied Design and Technology, where we used software to create things, and found I enjoyed digital art more than traditional art. To better prepare myself for my polytechnic course in Motion Graphics & Broadcast Design, I learnt how to use various types of design software by watching YouTube tutorials. Additionally, my family’s support in me pursuing a career in design helped reinforce my passion. Although my mother, initially wanted me to pursue something related to Mathematics, she understood my passion lies in design and supported me to pursue what I wanted to. What do you love about designing and what intrigues you the most? R: I like exploring and discovering new features and methods to create interesting products and art for people to enjoy. I love the whole process, and I do like to see the end product of my work.

I relish being able to work with people who are equally passionate about design, and exchanging views and ideas with them broadens my mind and helps my creativity grow. It’s really fun! What led you to seek an internship overseas, with Cantina Creative in particular? R: Even though there were internship opportunities available through my polytechnic, I wanted to push and test myself, and knew that going overseas would give me good exposure to the industry. My lecturer also encouraged me to try for an overseas internship as he felt that it was a good opportunity to test myself in a new and different environment. Los Angeles is one of the creative capitals of the world, so that’s where I focused. I was specifically looking for companies which did design or motion graphics for movies, and discovered Cantina Creative from the end credits of Iron Man 2. Their work really inspired and impressed me, and is also very much up my alley. As it turned out, it was Cantina Creative that accepted me, among the several overseas companies that I applied to.

You were in LA for six months. Can you share what your internship entailed? What was most memorable about the experience? R: At the start of my internship I was given a small personal project, creating posters and icons. I must have impressed them because they moved me to bigger projects, the first major one being Aquaman, for which I had to create a graphical screen interface. After that, there were small tasks for Bumblebee and Captain Marvel also. Working on Avengers: Endgame was really the most memorable for me. It was where I got to learn a lot of things—I had told my creative director that I was willing to try anything and everything, so he introduced me to a variety of jobs from modelling and animating to compositing. These were all small details in the movie, which many might miss, but I really liked the design and am immensely proud of my work. Working on such huge movies was nerve-wracking but I really wanted to impress my creative directors. I was even complimented by one of them at the end of it all! It still gives me butterflies seeing my name amongst other great artists’, so I always stay back to catch the end credits. Was it difficult to settle in overseas? R: I did worry about handling my expenses, accommodation and safety at first, but my family helped me prepare for the internship and motivated and supported me in many ways. My mother also stayed with me for the first week to settle in, which helped a lot. And my colleagues at Cantina were really welcoming, which definitely helped with the homesickness. When I was there, I felt I had to impress my colleagues and bosses, and even after leaving the office I would work to improve my skills. I missed my family and friends, and local food, too!

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If there is the chance, just go for it. You get to learn so many things that are not taught in school.

” What were your key takeaways from working with these leading industry professionals? R: Through this internship, I got a better insight into the working world, such as how each person contributes in different roles in a company. It was also a good way to test my skills and learn what standard of work clients expect. What was different at Cantina Creative is that they have a lot of fun when working. I had initially expected a high level of bureaucracy at Cantina, but there wasn’t and it really was a pleasant surprise. I did not feel restricted by many rules and regulations. There were many breaks for us to talk to one another—I think that helped us inspire each other and gain different perspectives. One of my role models, Alan Torres one of the Art Directors in Cantina inspired me to chase my dreams and improve myself. He did not hold back in sharing tips and secrets of the job with me. I also got the chance to attend an event called Ctrl+Z where local designers meet up and share their ideas. I managed to meet one of my idols, Chris Do of The Futur, there. 8

One of the main things I learnt there was how important communication is for designers in keeping their creative energy up. Bumblebee, Aquaman, Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame—Your family must have been thrilled that you were involved in the movies! R: My parents and brother were very proud of me, and shared about my work with their friends, even posting about it on Instagram Live. While watching the movies (which I’ve done countless times), I’ll point out my work to family and friends, which can annoy them sometimes! But my family and friends are really supportive of me and what I do, though they are not as passionate as I am about design. What advice would you offer students considering an overseas internship? R: If there is the chance, just go for it. You get to learn so many things that are not taught in school.

In my first year at Nanyang Polytechnic I had no idea I would be working on Avengers: Endgame—I only got the opportunity because I took a chance on an overseas internship. Reaching out to my lecturer really helped because he gave a lot of his time to help make this internship happen, and guided me to find funds I was eligible for. You are still only 20 and the world is before you. What’s next on the agenda? R: I am planning to do my degree at Otis College of Art and Design in California in the US. Some of my colleagues at Cantina Creative had studied there and told me about its Arts programme. I am also expanding my skillsets to include things like logo design and compositing, to gain a better understanding of the different avenues in design.


EVENT HIGHLIGHTS

DAD'S THE WAY

SPECIAL THANKS FOR A SPECIAL GROUP When it comes to helping the community, there is a distinct group of individuals who get our thanks. Individuals like 74 year old Mdm Sundarambal who are passionate about our community and donate what they can, whatever the amount. Last year Mdm Sundarambal, despite living in a 1-room flat, gave SINDA $5,000 from the sale of her mother’s flat, wanting to do something for the future of Indian children.

As a father you bring unique value to your family—your relationship with your kids affects their well-being like no one else’s. There’s no need to worry about not living up to the role though because SINDA’s Dad’s Journey series is here to show you how! Together with Centre for Fathering, we began by coaching 47 dads of 7-to-15-year-old kids, with the Emotion Coaching Workshop on 13 April and the I CAN Parenting Workshop on 12 May. Participant Dileep was among those who learnt not only how to respond to his child’s emotions but to use them for bonding and teachable moments, while regulating his own. “It helped me structure my mind in handling situations with my child,” he shared. “I also learnt the importance of investing time and effort to build a relationship with my child.” The dads don’t journey alone, either. On 8 June, 55 of them paired up with their children to cook up a feast for Father's Day, at The Little Things Cooking School. Dad Jason Sutheasen was glad he went, saying “The informal interactive setting of the cookout allowed for a great bonding session and encouraged us to eat healthily together.” In a child’s life, every day is Father's Day!

MARK THE DATES, DAD! Unleash the fun dad inside of you! These upcoming Dad’s Journey programmes can help: Adventure Camp with Dad: 21 September 2019 Day out with Dad: 16 November 2019 Visit www.sinda.org.sg/family for more information!

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The senior citizen was highlighted by Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister, Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for Finance and Second Minister for Education and President, SINDA, in her message to thank all donors. Some 30 donors had gathered at the Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre on 27 March for the annual Donor Appreciation Lunch and learnt how their contributions were used—from scholarships to family aid and SINDA Family Service Centre programmes. Ms Indranee observed that such donations complement the Government’s broader efforts for the disadvantaged and those in need. Indeed we can all do more as a community, showing compassion and responsibility towards our fellow community members. As Ms Indranee notes, contributions can go beyond monetary donations—expertise, networks and resources can also be shared. During lunch, a heart-warming video showed how donors' contributions impacted those in our society and donors were also able to read personalised ‘Thank You’ notes from beneficiaries. Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies and Chairman, SINDA was the special guest at the event.


FAMILY BONDS

From offering a foretaste of school life and forming a firm foundation, to forging family ties through field trips in the forest, SINDA’s programmes fulfil the needs of both parents and children. Our Starter Series, for example, is perfect for families with children getting ready for their new schools. On 17 March this year, we hosted parents of both pre-schoolers and Primary 6 tweens, with 48 parents attending the P1 Starters workshop along with 55 parents at the S1 Starters workshop. Preparing for the Primary 1 curriculum was only just one of the topics the P1 Starters explored, also allowing parents to pick up tips on good practices to develop at home that will see kids right through primary school. The popular course drew another 74 parents at a second session on 28 April. Meanwhile, the parents at the S1 Starters workshop equipped themselves to guide their kids through the transition from primary to secondary school. Everything from the PSLE and Direct School Admission (DSA) matters to socio-emotional issues and coping with a new environment was discussed. Mrs Anba Saroja, Principal of Whitley Secondary School was a guest speaker that day. A second workshop on 25 May had an equally enthusiastic response, with 63 parents attending it. P1 Starters participant Revathy Thyagarajan attests, “It was a good programme which gave me new insights. I learnt not to overwhelm my kids with too many activities and was reminded to support them in their interests.” Fellow parent Sujata d/o Vadivelu added, “I learnt how to help my child manage stress and discovered the different pathways kids can take.”

But SINDA doesn’t just talk about family support, we facilitate it too with programmes that nurture wholesome interests, provide stress-relief and foster family bonds. Among them, our series of nature walks gets families to be active together in some of Singapore’s loveliest natural sites. On 13 April, some 12 families went on a hike along the Labrador Coastal Walk, while another group of 30 took on the MacRitchie Tree Top Walk on 16 February. They not only learnt a bit about Singapore’s natural heritage, but also more about each other. Trekker Uma Elengoven loved that she got to spend “meaningful time” with her son, declaring, “We really enjoyed ourselves!”

DON’T MISS OUT! The next round of Starter workshops are coming up: S1 Starters Workshop: 25 August 2019 and 19 October 2019 P1 Starters Workshop: 5 October 2019 Nature walks at Bishan Park (17 August) and Dairy Farm (19 October) are also planned, so mark your calendars and gather the family. We’ll see you there! Visit www.sinda.org.sg/family for more information.

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EVENT HIGHLIGHTS

YOUTH CONTINUE THEIR IMPACT ON COMMUNITY SINDA Young Leaders' Programme (SYLP) “I know how being physically abused can affect ones childhood,” shares 17-year-old Harigaran, who developed his community initiative, Abused No More, intending to prepare adult volunteers who go door-to-door to share about child abuse. These volunteers will also be trained to identify the signs and manage such situations. “It’s my hope that all children can have a good childhood to remember,” he says. Harigaran was one of 20 youth participants who graduated from the intensive five-month SINDA Young Leaders' Programme (SYLP) 2019 by the SINDA Youth Club (SYC). Within its theme of “CommU&Ity in Action - begins with you and I”, the young people found scope to be a force of good, taking action for their community. Now into its 9th edition, SYLP functions as a catalytic space for our Indian youth to grow and flourish as positive change agents. This year’s cohort had earlier embarked on a trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand, studying the strategies and challenges of various NGOs and social enterprises. With these insights, the youth then designed their own schemes for our local communities. The various ground-up initiatives launched are fruit of their experiences, passion and deep research. On 26 May 2019, Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Defence & Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Mayor, South East District, met the SYLP participants and presented them with their certificates of completion at their Call For Action. Dr Maliki also engaged in a dialogue session with the students to encourage them to continue their important roles in society.

SINDA Youth Leaders Seminar (SYLS) The SINDA Youth Club was in action again a fortnight later, with 83 post-secondary students from various tertiary institutions gathering over the weekend of 7-9 June for the annual SINDA Youth Leaders Seminar (SYLS). Organised to bring out the potential and passion of youths to lead change for social causes, the 3D2N residential programme at Prince George’s Park House at the National University of Singapore was aptly themed “Discover the Leader Within”. SYLS leads Geeva Gopalkrishnan and Nithya Devi explained, “We wanted every participant and every facilitator to appreciate the process of identifying their leadership potential and believe with conviction that they have a valuable part to play in enacting social change.” A critical component this year was the Advocacy Challenge, in which SYLS partnered with Action for Aids, the Central Narcotics Bureau, Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore and low-income households to offer participants exposure to real-world issues. Site visits helped them understand different facets and challenges of the work, inspiring them to devise practical, sustainable strategies to aid the non-profit organisations. After the exercise, Ravichandran Shrivatsav, a Year 5 student from ACS Independent, appreciated that “leadership is a life-long journey and good leaders lead with their hearts by serving others after understanding their needs.” At the closing ceremony, graced by Mr Viswa Sadasivan, Chief Executive Officer of Strategic Moves and SINDA Term Trustee, the participants pledged to be robust agents of change within their own spheres of influence. Their pledge cards will be mailed back to them in six months as a reminder of their commitment, even as many go on to join other SYC programmes later in the year.

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She Chose to Return to the Workforce –

At 63!

Still raring to contribute to society and put her knowledge to good use, Ms Jeyathavy Thanabalasingam left behind the life of a retiree to return to employment.

Ms Jeyathavy Thanabalasingam

Ms Jeyathavy Thanabalasingam was 63 years-old when she retired from workforce. But after three months, she realised this wasn’t the life for her. She felt her experience and knowledge were going to waste. “It was a lousy feeling,” she laments. “I began to feel like I’m useless because I’m not contributing. I’m not helping anyone. I’m just mostly sitting at home doing nothing and getting depressed.” Having a job, she says, allowed her to feel a sense of freedom and satisfaction. Answering the call of re-employment So she made plans to return to work, applying for roles spanning admin and customer service, to hospitality and concierge positions. But after sending her resume to hundreds of job vacancies with no responses, Ms Jeya was dejected. She thought age was the barrier to being re-hired. “I had the perception that priority was given to younger employees. It was also commonly perceived that the older you became, the less effective you were. So this perception was ingrained in me.” Not wanting to throw in the towel, Ms Jeya gave Workforce Singapore’s (WSG) Career Matching Services a try and met

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with career coach Mr Benny Ong at Ingeus, WSG’s career matching provider. Coached for career success “She gave me a hard time,” Mr Ong jokes. “She came with this perception that at her age, it’s going to be challenging to find a job. I had to convince her that many employers are looking for matured folks like her.” He was glad that Ms Jeya, though sceptical of her chances, was very open to learning and following up on his advice. He helped fine-tune her resume, rebooted her LinkedIn account and taught her how to present herself better at interviews. All that effort paid off. Within six months, Ms Jeya was offered a position at a statutory board, where she regularly handles calls and emails from the public. Her team comprises three other colleagues, whom she works very well with, and can easily turn to for any work-related advice. “We’re very busy most of the time. Sometimes I don’t even have time to check my messages,” she laughs. Yet she wouldn’t trade it in for anything. Returning to work has allowed Ms Jeya to feel a sense of accomplishment and keep her mind active. “And it’s fun too!” she says.

Tips on How to Return to the Workforce Ms Jeya shares three learning points from her job search experience.

1. Seek help from a career coach

2. Focus on your main career skills

3. Come with an open mind

It was her career coach Mr Ong who helped debunk hiring myths, convincing her that she is valuable to the workforce, no matter her age. “I brought in a lot of examples to show that age is not a barrier,” says Mr Ong. “By helping her get interviews, it broke her initial perception and built her confidence.”

Revise your resume to highlight your key skills, which allows employers to know what you’re well-versed at. Mr Ong had prepped Ms Jeya to focus on her capabilities. “He prepared me for possible interview questions and how to answer them, showing me how to project my skill set and what I can offer to the job,” she recalls.

It is important to receive career matching services with an open mind.“ The fact that you may have to learn new things in a new way, you must have that open-mindedness,” she advises. “You must be ready and willing to try anything.”

Find out more about how WSG’s Career Matching Services can help you in your job search: bit.ly/SINDA-Jul2019


Get Together with the Family

1

Let’s Talk • Everybody wins when there is open and respectful communication— the children, parents and the parent-child relationship all benefit. • Good communication within the family means your children will feel safe to bring their joys, worries and hurts to you. Such intimate sharing strengthens attachment and teaches your child that he/she can count on you being there for them. • Don’t shy away from difficult topics. Your children will be more likely to view you as someone they can go to in difficult times, as opposed to someone to avoid for fear of punishment, scolding, or criticism.

2

Let’s Play • Family leisure time can be divided into two different categories: ‘core’ and ‘balance’. • ‘Core’ family leisure refers to common, everyday, low-cost activities that we can all do. Playing board games, playing outside and watching a movie together can help maintain stability within the family. • ‘Balance’ family leisure includes the special stuff we do less frequently; things that are out of the ordinary. Try new and unique experiences such as family vacations, attending sporting events, and camping. • When you make time for family leisure and recreation, you’ll find you’re interacting better and enjoying family life more. Along the way, you’ll realise you’re also communicating more effectively and have developed good conflict resolution skills.

3

Let’s Count • Parents are children’s primary source of financial education. • Involving your child in financial discussions, when appropriate, can be a way for you to impart the responsible attitudes and behaviours that can prepare him/her for long-term financial health. • Teach your children the value of money, how to save money to reach a goal, and later, how to earn money and how to manage money properly.

SINDA organises a variety of activities and workshops for everyone in the family. Visit www.sinda.org.sg/family to find out more! 14


4

Let’s Develop Family Values • Having strong family values and social practices can protect your children from picking up negative or anti-social behaviours—especially when they hit adolescence! • You can be a powerful influence when you communicate your expectations and values. Your children will have a reference when making social decisions or when considering risky behaviour.

5

Routines and Rituals to Call Your Own • Routines and rituals play an important role in the family. They help make family life feel more stable and provide opportunities for regular communication, strengthening relationships. • One example is having family meals (eg. dinners or weekend breakfasts), when everyone can share what’s going on in their lives. It also provides structure for family life by fixing a time to come together each day. • Children can build that sibling bond with regular movie nights or by joining a club together. • Celebrate life events together—birthdays, promotions, good grades. This builds cohesion as a family unit.

6

Claim Your ‘Best Dad’ Title • Set an example by respecting your partner. When children see parents respecting each other, they are more likely to feel that they are also accepted and respected within the father-child relationship. • Do the ‘mum stuff’. Things that were traditionally considered “mum” duties are not just for mum anymore—changing diapers, feeding, bathing, rocking kids to sleep in the middle of the night... Dads should help out as much as they can by sharing these types of duties equally, if possible. • Take every chance to bond with your children to build a life-long, close relationship with them.

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Read everything in this issue of SINDA Connections without skipping a page? Let’s see how well you know its contents!

Quiz-O-Mania

Answer the questions below and submit your answers together with your particulars, to SINDA Connections Contest c/o SINDA Corporate & Marketing Communications Division, No 1 Beatty Road, Singapore 209943. Your entries have to reach SINDA by 10 September 2019. This contest is open only to primary and secondary school students, who are Singaporeans or Permanent Residents. Three correct entries will win $50 worth of vouchers each. The winning correct entries will be picked in a draw and the judges’ decision is final. Winners will be contacted by SINDA to collect their prizes and the winners’ names will be published in the next issue of SINDA Connections.

Name: School:

School Level:

Contact No.: Email:

Address: Select one answer for each question: (You can find the answers in the articles in this magazine) Question 1 Which of these movies did Akshya NOT work on? a) Avengers: Infinity War b) Bumblebee c) Aquaman

Congratulations to the winners of the previous contest! 1) Suresh Nitesh Frontier Primary School 2) Hasini Senthilnathan Hougang Secondary School

Question 2 What is the name of the SINDA programme for single mothers? a) Athena Project b) Project Athena c) Project Zeus

3) Mira Balagopal Canossa Catholic Primary School

Question 3 Which award did Ms Rajani win at the Indian Women of the Year 2019 Awards ceremony? a) Athena Award b) Hercules award c) Herculean Award

About Us VISION To build a strong and vibrant Singaporean Indian community together MISSION To build a well-educated, resilient and confident community of Indians that stands together with the other communities in contributing to the progress of multi-racial Singapore VALUES Respect, our culture Integrity, our foundation Service, our promise Excellence, our pursuit

16

BOARD OF TRUSTEES

Term Trustees Ms Indranee Rajah Patron Mr Ravi Menon Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Mr R Jayachandran Mr Girija Pande Chairman Mr Gautam Banerjee Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam Mr Ravinder Singh Justice Judith Prakash Life Trustees Mr K Kesavapany Prof S Jayakumar Mr Viswa Sadasivan Mr S Dhanabalan Mr Shabbir Hassanbhai Mr S Chandra Das Mr Timothy Chia Mr J Y Pillay Mr Piyush Gupta Mr Sat Pal Khattar Dr Sudha Nair Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam Mr Harjit Singh Bhatia Mr K Shanmugam Dr N Varaprasad Advisors Dr Vivian Balakrishnan Mr S Iswaran Mr Vikram Nair Mr Murali Pillai

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE President Ms Indranee Rajah Vice Presidents Mr Shekaran Krishnan ​Mr K V Rao Secretary Mr Sarjit Singh Treasurer Mr R Subramaniam Iyer Members Dr Joshua V M Kuma Mr R Chandra Mohan Mr K Ramamoorthy Mr Sarbjit Singh Mr Thambyrajah T Mr Darryl David Mrs Rathi Parimalan Mr Mohamed Nasim Prof Vineeta Sinha Mr Siraj Omar


ONE OF US

IN HER WORDS What is one piece of advice you have received that you would like to pass on to others?

HERCULEAN AWARD WINNER

RAJANI RAJANDRAN

Rajani: “Listen to your heart; trust in yourself. Respect your decisions. Do not give up!”

Photo credit: Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

SINDA's Project Athena participant Rajani Rajandran recently won the inaugural Herculean Award at the Indian Women of the Year Awards 2019, for demonstrating strength and resilience in overcoming her trials. The preschool teacher is single-handedly raising her child, supporting her mother and her sibling’s family and studying hard to further her career—while still finding time to celebrate precious moments with her young daughter.

Rajani Rajandran knows what it’s like to feel all alone when the world seems to crumble around you. When her child was born, her mother was receiving medical treatment abroad, and just weeks later, her beloved father passed away. The single mum found part-time jobs but instinctively sought a better future for the two of them. “I did not want our lives to be meaningless,” she relates. “I knew I had to face all my difficulties head on; that I should build a good career and support my child.” Rajani had good role models: her parents had given her their love and full support as she was growing up—“till the day I had a family of my own,” she says—and she was determined not to let her own daughter down. While unsure at first where to get help, Rajani did not allow herself to stay a victim of circumstance. Fortunately, various organisations were able to give her a firm footing on the way up. The Central Community Development Council (CDC) offered financial assistance, and, importantly, set her on a career path. Motivated, the young mum enrolled in the courses which were to build her knowledge and skills for her job. Thye Hua Kwan Family Service Centre also stepped in with rations and supplies for her daughter, as well as counselling

sessions, while SINDA helped Rajani apply for the Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund for her daughter and provided Back to School kits. Today, Rajani has already achieved much, moving from a rental flat into her own HDB home. The 33-year-old is furthering her studies in Early Childhood, as she constantly looks for ways to improve and upgrade herself. Rajani faithfully brings her mother for medical appointments and outings, but happily admits it is the granddaughter who brings the most joy to the family. And it is the little girl who remains Rajani’s main motivator. “I want to give her the best life and future,” she says. “I hope she will follow in my footsteps to study so she can have the life she wants.” Through Project Athena, mother and child have attended camps and workshops and celebrations, which Rajani sees as opportunities to create lasting bonds with her daughter. As for the Herculean Award, it was an unexpected honour. “It took a lot of courage to share what I faced and my struggles in life,” Rajani confesses, but her hope is that her story will motivate other single parents “to lead a bright life for their children and themselves”.


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