AWWA’s journey to empower the disadvantaged began in 1970 by the will of one woman, Mrs Shakuntala Bhatia. Mrs Bhatia rallied like-minded women in Singapore to start helping the needy, as the wives of British troops, who had been plugging this welfare gap, started leaving in the late 1960s.
In the beginning, the work consisted of general welfare services. Under the banner of the Asian Women’s Welfare Association, Mrs Bhatia and her peers identified gaps in the community. In addition to helping families in need, they also delivered much-needed services to help the aged and persons with disabilities. Their goal was to empower the marginalised and socially-disadvantaged, and enable them to lead dignified and independent lives.
Over the past 50 years, what started out as a group of caring volunteers coming together to support low-income families, has grown into one of the largest multi-service social service agencies in Singapore, delivering a wide range of services for children and adults with additional needs, vulnerable families and seniors.
On 7 January 2015, the Association incorporated AWWA Ltd, a Singapore company limited by guarantee. In April that year, AWWA Ltd took over the operation of all the charitable services and activities previously managed by the Association.
Mrs Bhatia’s work laid the foundation for AWWA. Today, our 800-strong team of social workers, therapists, teachers, programme staff and management, as well as our large pool of volunteers and donors, continue striving to fulfil our mission of empowering the disadvantaged, and identifying and filling key social service gaps in the community. This aptly embodies our ethos of “People Giving to People”.
We continue to carry with us Mrs Bhatia’s belief that no one should be left behind. AWWA’s services are focused on empowering clients to participate in society as fully as possible, whether through achieving independence, integration in mainstream settings, or aspiring to full inclusion. In recent years, AWWA has been advocating for greater inclusion in the education sphere. In 2016, it started Kindle Garden, Singapore’s first truly inclusive preschool, with the support of Lien Foundation.