Joys of being a Befriender
At first glance, Mdm Lai is a regular Singaporean housewife – 68 years old, married, and residing in a 4-room HDB flat with her husband. She is soft-spoken, with a warm, cheerful smile. After she got married, she became a full-time housewife pledging her love and devotion to her family.
The turning point in Mdm Lai’s journey of volunteering came after her children grew up. As years went by and her children started families of their own, Mdm Lai felt that her life was lacking a sense of purpose. That was when she came to know of Thye Hua Kwan (THK) Seniors Services @ Taman Jurong. She joined as a member of the centre in January 2015 and was introduced to the THK Community Befriending Programme. After a short briefing, she took on her first ever volunteering opportunity with open arms and the will to make a difference in someone’s life and to serve the community.
In the same neighbourhood, Mdm Koh lived her life together with her husband, just like Mdm Lai. Mdm Koh’s story is a painfully familiar one for many elderly in Singapore. Her husband passed away a few years ago. With no children, his death left her alone at 73 years old, in her 3-room flat at Taman Jurong. Old age made her prone to falling and loneliness.
Fortunately, Mdm Lai’s decision to become a Befriender at the THK Community Befriending Programme led her to Mdm Koh. Her monthly routines consist of weekly visits to Mdm Koh’s house, accompanying Mdm Koh for checkups at the hospital and grocery shopping, cooking delicious food for Mdm Koh and even taking strolls with her. “Every week, I look forward to Mdm Lai’s visits. Her friendship has made me happier, safer, and less lonely,” Mdm Koh says.
In today’s fast-paced society, many people feel too tired to volunteer, but not Mdm Lai. “When I see Mdm Koh laugh more often, and go on outings with me, I feel that it is all worth it,” she shared. Even when life hit her hard as her husband’s health took a downturn after an accident and resulted in his admission to a nursing home, she still kept on going. What started out as a simple desire to give back to society eventually blossomed into a special bond that both Mdm Lai and Mdm Koh are grateful for.