Graduation of Help the Helpers Programme Term 8
She exuded confidence as she entered the room wearing her Sunday best, a stunning pink dress. Smiling warmly before starting to practise a speech that she had written. Parina Tamang, a foreign domestic worker from Darjeeling, learnt from her friends about the English language classes conducted at the Sri Sathya Sai Society from a WhatsApp group. She has come a long way since joining the classes six months ago. Today, 9 April, is her graduation ceremony and she was thrilled to be able to face a big crowd and share her experiences and takeaways from attending the English language classes.
“I knew very little English and hesitated to speak much before joining the classes. My teachers here make the lessons interesting and fun for us. I look forward to attending the classes every 2nd and 4th Sunday. I would like to thank my teachers and everyone who has helped me. My employers are happy and pleased to see me learn new things. I am now ready to join the IT lessons for the next term.”
Just like Parina, 180 foreign domestic female workers have benefitted from the Sri Sathya Sai Society’s Help the Helpers Programme this term. Aimed at empowering the workers who spend all day doing household chores at the homes of their employers, these ladies look forward to attending English or IT lessons at 133, Moulmein Road every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month.
Basic communication and written skills are taught over a period of six months after an assessment and interview to determine their level of proficiency. The ladies are grouped in various classes named after colours based on their competency. Dedicated volunteer teachers who have no prior experience in teaching undergo workshops to equip them with the necessary skills to teach.
“It is so inspiring to see the students put in enormous effort in improving themselves.”
- Sister Chandrika, teacher of Pink Class
To date, The Help the Helpers programme has benefitted more than 1,300 ladies. Eager to improve their communication skills and knowledge, some of these ladies have gone on to find better jobs and opportunities for themselves after their contracts in Singapore.
As Brother Sriram recounted, one of the ladies contacted him to thank the organisation for the lessons and IT skills that she had picked up at the Centre. She took up a job in Israel that paid her five times the amount she earned in Singapore. Another former student now works for an elderly dementia-stricken couple there, where she is able to communicate with them fluently in English and assist them with simple IT tasks such as operating the computer and printing documents.
The programme would not have been a success without the labour of love of devotees and well-wishers who have been supportive since it started in 2016. About 16,000 meals have been lovingly prepared in the kitchens of volunteers with a logistics team of volunteer drivers delivering the meals in time for lunch before the lessons begin. The admin and IT team of volunteers ensure that the premises are clean and the classrooms are ready for use.
It is also heartening to know that these ladies receive much support from their employers. Mr and Mrs Kapoor were all praises for their helper, Sukhmani who has been with them for five years.
“Sukhmani is from Punjab and knew very little English when she first joined us but she is able to write the grocery list in English.”
-Mrs Inder Kapoor
It was an emotional moment for Sukhmani as she received her graduation certificate. The ladies have completed the term but many of them are looking forward to attending the classes for the next term. The friendships and bonds formed amongst the ladies and the teachers are indeed heartwarming. Here are some photos. More photos are at https://photos.app.goo.gl/FTj4XZb1fXjzVhCC8.
The next batch begins shortly, and intake is on 14th and 28th May 2023, from 1 pm to 3 pm on both days. The admissions may close sooner if the response is overwhelming. For more information on the Help the Helpers programme, please visit https://saisociety.org.sg/help-the-helpers.
True education is not for a mere living, but for a fuller and meaningful life.
-Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Thank you, Swami.