International Volunteer Day 2021 – Barbara’s Volunteering Journey

“I started volunteering at AWWA in 2011 when the then-President of the Asian Women’s Welfare Association (before incorporation), Mrs Sandra Berrick, introduced me to the organisation during one of our catch-ups. In a blink of an eye, ten years have passed. I did not regret taking the first step outside of my comfort zone. I have to admit, the initial stage of volunteering was difficult because I was new to the organisation. It took me some time to adapt to the work culture, but the moment the dust settled, boy – I gained a whole new perspective of volunteering.

I enjoy spending time with the kids at AWWA Special Student Care Centre. From cooking and baking to decorating the centre with festive ornaments, we made it a point to fill the centre with joy and laughter. Even though Covid-19 has disrupted the volunteering plans, it did not dampen my spirit of volunteerism. I have never considered the kids as students from the centre. I treat and love them like my own. They gave me so much more than I can ever give them.

We have to understand that while volunteerism is important, the thing that will benefit children with additional needs the greatest is by lending them our voice – advocating for them. Whenever my children and grandchildren are in town, I will make it a point to bring them to the centre so they can learn and understand more about Persons with Disabilities (PWDs). We have to open the eyes of the next generation and let them see that the world is not meant to be whole and perfect. We, ourselves, are flawed in our own ways, and we are blessed to have our community guide and support us. We learn how to interact with people of all physical abilities because, after all, we are one big community.

Whenever I have conversations with my friends regarding PWDs, I would often tell them, “Never ask persons with disabilities to come to our world. Instead, ask them, “Let me into your world””.

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