Doing Good beyond the Office – Paving a Way

December 06, 2018

As the Senior Manager in the Child Support Services (CSS) department, Ruth Chia works closely with a group of Child Enabling Executives (CEEs) to ensure that underprivileged families in My First Skool receive the required social support, as well as ensuring that the children are able to regularly attend pre-school and participate in the quality programmes offered by NFC. Outside of work, she spends time and resources supporting underprivileged children in Cambodia.

Tree branches had fallen all over the mud track, blocking the path forward. In a bid to reach two schools in a village in Cambodia, Ruth and her fellow volunteers had to use parangs to chop and clear the way ahead of them.

This was in the spirit of doing good for the community, where Ruth took the initiative to support a group of children in need in Cambodia. It all started about four years ago, when she learnt about Choice Family Singapore (CFS). Set up by her husband’s colleague, it is a Society that engages in poverty alleviation activities in Cambodia.

In this particular area, the Prey Veng Province in Cambodia, some families live in squalid conditions with barely thatched huts that hardly provide any protection from the elements. These families have fallen through the socio-economic cracks in their society. Most of them do not have access to clean water, proper sanitation, electricity and education.

Ruth (centre) with the villagers at the school in Cambodia

With a heart to help others, Ruth joined CFS’ programmes. Over the past four years, she has helped provide support for some 200 Cambodian children in two impoverished village schools, ensuring that they have access to early childhood education.

One of the key actions Ruth began doing was seeking donations and collecting useful items for the children. Through this, she was able to raise a sizeable amount of money to help fund purchasing of teaching resources, daily necessities and more for the Cambodian children. Many of Ruth’s NFC colleagues also contributed items for the cause, donating things like toys, clothes and stationery, many of them brand new. With these donations, Ruth and her team would send them over to Cambodia.

Ruth brought supplies of socks and shoes from Singapore to Cambodia for the children in need

On top of the tangible items, Ruth also recognises the importance of education for the underprivileged children in Cambodia.

The CFS is currently building two schools in Cambodia for children aged 3 to 12, Syndicate 5 schoolhouse at Kampong Speu and Caring Rainbow in Prey Veng. Using her experience gained from decades in the early childhood industry in Singapore, Ruth adapted a phonics programme for the schools in Cambodia, inclusive of teaching resources and a training programme for teachers.

In April 2017, two teachers and 10 children from the Cambodian village came to Singapore to attend phonics training conducted by Ruth and her colleagues (NFC’s Area Directors Catherine Fang and Jasmine Ham). They gave the visitors resources and imparted the lessons that can be brought back to Cambodia to teach the children at home. The trip was generously paid for by Ruth and other volunteers and Ruth opened up her house as the venue for the trainings. The group also had the opportunity to tour Singapore and enjoyed a barbeque as part of the trip.

Ruth (in pink) opened up her home to the teachers from Cambodia for voluntary trainings on teaching language

Later in the same year, Ruth gathered a group of volunteers to this time head over to Cambodia for lesson observations. They also taught in some classes.

Ruth and a fellow volunteer teaching at one of the classes

As part of the trip, the team also brought some of the donated toys and clothes for the children. That was the first of multiple trips that Ruth will be going on to Cambodia to have a direct impact on the underprivileged there, with another scheduled for November 2018. Over these past four years, Ruth and her team of volunteers have cared for some 1,000 families in the two impoverished villages.

Making a direct impact on the children’s lives

In Singapore, Ruth also does good for the local community. Every month, she brings rations to the Tembusu Home at Pelangi Village, a welfare home established under the provisions of the Destitute Persons Act (DPA) for the reception, care and rehabilitation of destitute persons. The Home is a community-based eldercare programme under the purview of the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS).

“Sometimes these can feel very challenging and insurmountable,” Ruth says, “but seeing the smiles on their faces makes me happy, and every small action we take makes a big difference to them. And this inspires me.”

“The joy on the faces of the children is something so precious, it is one of the things that drives me to do more for them.” – Ruth Chia

Over the years, Ruth has continually done more for the community, be it locally or overseas, as she believes in “doing good”. She is a glowing testimony of NFC’s Do Good initiatives, knowing that we can all “do good” in our own unique ways.