CAPTains from Project Kindle used evidence-based elements of mentoring and group-engagement to convey socio-emotional lessons to the children. This approach coupled with training from Methodist Children and Youth Centre (MCYC), helped CAPTains develop an effective model to help facilitate healthy emotional development in foster children. The team hopes that this model can be refined and used as a positive example of how effective group mentoring programmes can be like. This can also serve as a basis for future group-level engagement programmes with vulnerable children.
Reflections from Capstone team members
“Interaction with the children definitely opened my eyes in ways that I did not anticipate. Having worked in the Children in Care Service under MSF in the past, I was well aware of their circumstances but actually being able to talk to these children and get to know them and seeing them grow over the eight weeks brought a new dimension to my understanding of their character and resilience. For some of the children, their cheerful disposition hid the deep struggles that they’ve been through and this manifested in different forms. I learnt that it could surface subtly through wanting to be hyper independent and not accepting help from anyone, or in more obvious ways when some of the girls would cry to seek attention and confessed to one of the volunteers that she ran away from home because she feels cared about when people realize she’s missing and go out to look for her. This story made me realize how much these children are deprived of love and affection that we often take for granted. Learning about some of their hopes and aspirations, including one boy’s dream of becoming an inventor to help those around him, made me realize that rather than viewing their circumstances as a setback, these struggles can actually be a source of strength for them. Building resilience from a young age can develop in them positive attributes like perseverance, given the right guidance. This made me even more passionate about wanting to address the various issues in the early childhood sector in Singapore, as children who go through trauma at a young age need all the support they can get.”
– Darrell Ong, Year 4, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
“We sat there in comfortable silence as I saw his eyes shadow the squirrels scurrying up and down the trees, smiling to himself. It was at this instance that I realised that this boy, despite everything he has gone through, is just like any other child – filled with wonderment, innocence and zest for life. My interactions with the children has definitely enlightened and overturned all preconceived notions I had of foster children. Initially, conversations we had with them seemed measured, as most of us feared certain sensitive topics may trigger bad memories in them but after spending time together over 8 sessions, conversations happened more organically between the children and us. The conversations revealed how the circumstances these children are in definitely have had a toll on them and their behaviour. While some suffer low self-esteem and shy away from attention, others crave it by intentionally speaking loudly in class, each child coping with it in his/her own way. Personally, this highlights how as a society, we often reduce the experiences of a group of people to a singular one, as we assume that they undergo the same thing and behave similarly. However, each experience is personalised and it is important for us to interact and see them as individuals in order to have a better understanding of their realities. Nonetheless, what I found heartening was the fact that despite being fully aware of the circumstances they are in, the children remain undeterred by their struggles and are instead, fuelled with ambitions and drive to achieve their dreams, proving testament to the importance of having good influences in their lives (be it their foster families, teachers or friends) and why our support for such foster programs is important.”
– Muhd Nur Aliff (Project Volunteer), Year 2, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences