Volunteer Spotlight: She Mentors FDWs On Financial Literacy
Ever thought of volunteering but unsure of how to start? As with most situations of uncertainty - just google it! Clare Tong did, and it was a simple Internet search that led her on a journey to cultivate this passion.
"Since secondary school, I’ve participated in Community Involvement Projects where I had the chance to meet people from all walks of life and witness firsthand segments of society that could really use more support," says the 28-year-old.
Seeing how her actions could make a difference in someone's life, Clare was motivated to give back to the community even beyond her student years.
Finding an opportunity to do good
After graduating with an economics degree, Clare decided to use her new-found knowledge for the greater good. It was then that she went online and discovered Aidha, a local charity that provides financial literacy and self-development skills to foreign domestic workers (FDWs) and lower-income women to enable them and their families to break out of the cycle of poverty.
Many FDWs arrive in Singapore at a young age, leaving behind their families, children and partners. It is therefore inevitable that many are often not exposed to adequate financial or holistic education.
Coupled with the pressure from work and their family back home who may have certain financial demands, many of these women unfortunately accumulate little savings despite toiling for many years here in Singapore.
Becoming a mentor and what it's like being one
Aidha's vision to build lifelong skills for FDWs to ensure sustainable financial empowerment resonated with Clare and this eventually persuaded her to join the non-profit organisation as a volunteer mentor, on top of her day job as a data analyst.
"As a mentor, I take on a class of 10-20 students for a particular module that lasts 6 months," Clare explains, adding that classes (conducted two Sundays every month) follow a structured class curriculum designed by Aidha.
"Ultimately, I am there to support their learning journey while also strengthening my own speaking skills."
Students are her inspiration
Despited the hardships her students face, Clare never fails to be inspired by their resilience. She internalises it as motivation to become better herself.
"Some of them may have failed businesses or difficult family backgrounds, but still they do not give up," she reveals. "These women are choosing to spend the one free day of their week to travel all the way to school to learn, out of their genuine desire to improve their lives."
Whether it's teaching FDWs to manage their money through financial planning and informed decision-making, or how to start a business, Clare is grateful that the knowledge imparted upon these women in these lessons can help them to secure a brighter future.
You can make a difference too
Clare recommends checking out websites such as www.giving.sg or www.volunteer.sg where there are numerous curated opportunities listed to help you kickstart your own volunteer journey.
"Talk to the organisation, current and previous volunteers or attend introductory sessions without feeling the need to commit yet. Identify a few causes that you're interested in or have the skill sets for, so that you will be more committed in your volunteering journey," Clare advises.
"It's never late to lend someone a helping hand."
For more information on Aidha, click here.
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