She was down, but not out
(From left) Angel, Belinda, Sara and Yashodha are women who embrace second chances, and we celebrate them this International Women’s Day.
Growing up in poverty on the streets. Self-immolation in a bid to escape an abusive marriage.
These are daunting setbacks in life, but for women like Angel and Yashodha, they are only the beginnings of a new story.
Determined to find a positive path forward, they seized opportunities to forge second chances, drawing strength from adversity.
And it is these qualities that we are raising a toast to, on International Women’s Day this year — qualities lived out by four women whose stories we told.
Abandoned at a young age by her mother, Angel overcame her struggles, and went from street kid to university student, driven by her love for school and supported by Tahanan Sta Luisa, a shelter for street girls. She plans to be a teacher and hopes her journey can inspire her future students to look forward with positivity.
Yashodha set herself on fire to escape an abusive marriage, but recovered with the help of International Foundation for Crime Prevention and Victim Care (PCVC), a non-profit that advocates against domestic violence. Now leading an independent life, she mentors other women in crisis.
Sara (not her real name) and her family fled war-torn Afghanistan to Malaysia, where many refugees end up in limbo as they await the chance for resettlement. But through The Picha Project, she found a way to support her family, as well as improve the understanding between Malaysians and the refugee community.
Belinda initially feared the worst when her mother, Katherine, was diagnosed with dementia. But she came to see her situation as a chance to make new and joyful memories with her mother daily. Now, she is both a participant and a volunteer at Memories Cafe, a programme by Alzheimer’s Disease Association Singapore for people with dementia and their caregivers.
These women inspire us because they have not only embraced their second chances, but are working to uplift others in their community. This International Women’s Day, we celebrate them.
TAHANAN STA LUISA
Tahanan Sta Luisa in Manila, Philippines, has been helping street children since 1999, through an intervention centre that provides shelter, counselling and basic education. Working with local authorities and other social services agencies, it has supported 560 girls to date.
PCVC is a non-profit in India serving survivors of domestic abuse, through shelters, a recovery centre, a 24-hour crisis hotline, legal advocacy, and other support services to help the survivors get back on their feet. It has helped 4,500 burn survivors since 2006.
Social enterprise Picha Project has empowered 11 refugee families in Malaysia to date through its food and cultural exchange model. Its open house and catering services have served some 70,000 meals so far - all prepared by its refugee partners, who receive 50 per cent of the sales.
ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE ASSOCIATION
Alzheimer's Disease Association is a non-profit in Singapore that runs services for persons with dementia and their carergivers, as well as promotes awareness for the disease. Its centres alone served 506 people in 2017, and the number of people served overall continues to grow.