Almost 40 years ago, four teenagers found friendship at a special place: Singapore Children’s Society, Toa Payoh Centre. It brought together young people from different ethnicities, religions, age groups and family profiles, and was a place where they could seek out company and support.
Fast forward almost four decades, and Jaspine Charley, Sheree Scully, Roswati Markiman, and Soo Lai Yin remain fast friends. The four recently came together to create a video of memories and wishes to commemorate the Society’s 70th anniversary.
Remembering days spent at the Centre, Sheree, now 54, says: “We didn’t have things like handphones or iPads, so it was our form of entertainment and interaction. We got a chance to meet there and hang out… Today, we are still very good friends.”
The Centre organised various activities, they recall, from BBQs and outings, to free camps during the school holidays.
They also learnt from each other’s varied life experiences and backgrounds, and emerged stronger from that, says Jaspine, 54. “I came from an intact family but we actually got to meet children from different types of families, and who had been through different types of experiences. We learnt quite a bit from that.”
Agreeing, Roswati, 55, adds: “Within Singapore Children’s Society, I got to know a lot of children of different backgrounds, races and religions. We bonded despite our differences.”
The community work the Centre engaged them in, including visits to children’s homes and old folks’ homes, also helped shape them, says Lai Yin, 52. “We learnt about empathy and how to show it. Not many kids our age would have gotten to experience that.”
A life shared: Former beneficiaries from Toa Payoh Centre sharing their memories and wishes for the Society in a group video
Despite the time that has passed, they remembered several present and former staff members by name, including Wah Khoon (social worker) and Florence (social worker), and took the opportunity to thank them for their patience and guidance.
“Thank you so much for giving us so many memories. All we can say is we’re very grateful. We are what we are because of the guidance that we had from the volunteers and social workers. All the best for many, many years to come,” says Jaspine.
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