While drones are increasingly being used in the building and construction industry to perform tasks such as façade inspections, the drone-making workshop that SingLand sponsored for 20 children on 22 June 2022 brought about benefits of a different sort.
It was smiles all around as the children, aged seven to 12 years, from Montfort Care’s Big Love Child Protection Specialist Centre (“Big Love”) got to build their own drones with the help of volunteers from SingLand. The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)-based workshop that was held at PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay provided an afternoon of hands-on fun, cheery banter and tea-time treats.
On all fronts, the session conducted by ripplecreate looked like any other normal STEM-based workshop for children. Fact is, the experience is an anomaly for these children whose day-to-day lives have more to do with the painful realities of abuse in its various shades and forms.
The children come under the care of Big Love, which handles cases where month-old babies to 18-year-olds have experienced physical, psychological, emotional and sexual abuse and neglect, which unknown to many is also considered a form of abuse.
“…as our nation evolves, so too must our methods of relating to children.”
– Desmurn Lim, Director, Big Love
Big Love handles approximately 900 cases per quarter, the number having climbed during the Covid-19 pandemic (child abuse cases climbed from 1,313 in 2020 to 2,141 in 20211). “The increasing numbers may be due to the pandemic forcing struggling families to live in even closer quarters or because more cases are being surfaced by the public,” says Desmurn Lim, Director at Big Love.
Still, they soldier on, fuelled by a clear goal: “Our objective is to strengthen families and make them resilient enough to thrive without our presence,” shares Mr Lim.
THE REALITIES OF ABUSE
The types of cases vary greatly, each of them heart-breaking in their own way:
In a case of neglect, Sarah and Samuel (not their real names), aged two and five respectively, are often left alone at home because their parents have to work to make ends meet. Their case was brought to Big Love’s attention when Samuel tried to cut an apple (the only available food in the fridge) for his younger sister who was hungry and ended up cutting himself.
Big Love stepped in and came up with a plan that involved neighbours, the children’s schools and even estranged family members to ensure both children were not left alone. Financial assistance was also sought to aid the family’s situation.
Sometimes, the cases involve more traumatic situations as in the case of Ben (not his real name) whose father used to come home drunk and physically abuse both Ben and his mother. The ten-year-old saw his father slamming his mother into a mirror and was himself subjected to an attempt by his father to drown him in a pail of water.
After escaping with his mother from his father, Ben was referred to Big Love’s Play and Art Therapy Services to help him cope with the trauma he experienced. Slowly but surely, he has learnt to reframe his view of the world.
LEARNING AS A COMMUNITY
“Every case is different in severity. Where possible, we hope to educate the public and community that as our nation evolves, so too must our methods of relating to children,” shares Mr Lim.
SingLand’s commitment to elevate the community not only encompasses providing opportunities to the less privileged, but also educating our own community about the cracks in society and making an impact in these areas.
Accordingly, part of SingLand’s initiative to volunteer with the children from Big Love included a session before the drone-making workshop where volunteers learnt about child abuse, the children’s backgrounds and how to interact with them in a manner that allows them to feel safe. What resulted was a greater awareness of what the children go through and a deepened sense of empathy for them.
“It was meaningful to see them having fun with the drones and knowing that we were able to make their day better, especially since they rarely get to experience such things.”
– Lim ShiYing, Assistant Manager, Internal Audit
“It was meaningful to see them having fun with the drones and knowing that we were able to make their day better, especially since they rarely get to experience such things,” says Lim ShiYing, Assistant Manager at SingLand’s Internal Audit department who volunteered at the workshop.
Vincent Tan, Head of Project Management at SingLand who also participated in the session, shares, “While it is sad to see that there are so many children who need help, it is heart-warming to know that there are also organisations like Big Love who are doing a great job in helping them. I’m proud that SingLand is also able to do our part in making a difference in the community.”
1 Ministry of Social and Family Development, Child Abuse Investigations: https://www.msf.gov.sg/research-and-data/Research-and-Statistics/Pages/Child-Abuse-Investigations.aspx