As Singapore moved into phase two of reopening after Circuit-Breaker, all students are now back to school. Meanwhile, Tzu Chi Collegiate Youth Association (Tzu Ching), with the collaboration of Tzu Chi Teachers’ Association, began planning and arranging a second mentoring support programme termed “Mentoring with Love 2.0” for the care recipient’s children. The programme aims to provide additional curriculum support for the care recipient’s children so that they will not lag behind their peers. This support can also reduce the financial burden of the care recipients in supporting their children academically.
“From the first Mentoring with Love programme, we discovered that many care recipients’ children were struggling with their schoolwork and not doing well in school, and yet they could not afford tuition classes due to their financial constraint,” said one of the program’s coordinators, Tang Min Hui.
“Furthermore, we also received many positive feedbacks from the home-visit volunteers and the care recipients, hence we decided to push on with the second edition,” added Tang Min Hui.
With prior positive experiences, many Tzu Chings then started to invite their friends to join in the cause as they hope to recruit more volunteers in school. Besides spreading the news through word of mouth, Tzu Chings also tapped on various social media and volunteer platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Giving.sg to recruit more young online mentors.
Mentoring with Love “Zoom” on
Similar to the first “Mentoring with Love”, this program provides a “2 to 1” online guidance for care recipients’ children with 2 pairs of mentors helping each child with one of the two subjects they require help every fortnight. However, unlike the first edition, Mentoring with Love 2.0 will stretch from August till November, which happens to be in line with the school term of Singapore Universities. Throughout this four-months, the aim is for the 64 youths, which 36 of them are taking part in this project for the first time, to build better rapport with their mentees and also better experience Tzu Chi’s humanistic culture while volunteering. Sister Tang Min Hui also shared, “We do not want the Tzu Chings to only help the mentee in schoolwork, we also want them to be role models to sow the seeds of kindness and love in the children.”
To ensure everyone is on the same page before mentoring, an induction programme was held for the Tzu Chings to learn more about the mentorship programme, mentorship techniques as well as other preparations required for the different primary school subjects (English, Mathematics, Science, and Chinese). They were also given an opportunity to understand and learn more about the children through a home visit. The youths, accompanied by home-visit volunteers, are given the opportunity to witness the suffering of the underprivileged and recognize their blessing when they visit the care recipients.
Since many care recipients’ children are returning after a pleasant first spell, they are then assigned back to the same mentor who guided them during the first programme, just like Wong Yun Ming, a Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Tzu Ching, and her mentee, Lucas. When sharing about the development and progress of Lucas, Wong Yun Ming stated that Lucas has become more cheerful and confident since the first programme. Not only that, he is now more open in sharing about what happened in school and also more inquisitive when learning. While for Yun Ming, her biggest takeaway from interacting with her “little brother” Lucas was to learn how to better communicate with different age groups.
Timely assistance that makes a lot of difference
Since the first Mentoring with Love programme, home-visit volunteers have played a pivotal role in bridging the communications between Tzu Chings and the care recipients and ensuring a smooth running of the mentoring sessions. For Brother Ong Eng Yeong however, he went the extra mile to ensure that the care recipient under his charge do not face with any technical issue, so as to let the child better benefit from the sessions.
“I didn’t have other thoughts, all I want is for the care recipient’s child to learn as much as possible and not let the learning be hindered by technical glitches, miscommunication between parties and time wastage on solving the issues. So, I decided to go over and sort out the problems personally,” Brother Ong recalled.
Upon receiving feedback from Tzu Chings that their mentee was attending the first online mentoring session through his mobile phone, Brother Ong did not hesitate to pay the care recipient a visit to understand the problems they were facing.
Upon arriving, he found out that there was quite a distance between the mentee's room and the location of the router. This may lead to connectivity issue if the mentee was to attend the sessions using the computer. Thus, the mentee decided to use his handphone to attend the mentorship session instead. In addition to that, Brother Ong also discovered that the child did not have an earpiece and was having difficulty listening to the class. Without further ado, he provided the child with an earpiece and relocated the computer.
However, during the second session, there was another small hiccup. This time around, the child's microphone was not working. Again, Brother Ong headed down to the care recipient’s house to rectify the problem.
“It's just a 30-minute drive to the care recipient’s house, and the mentoring session was just about to begin when I received the message, so I decided to quickly rush over and check out the issue. Thankfully, I brought a spare earpiece over as the issue was actually the faulty earpiece,” he shared.
Brother Ong then concluded, “Although I did not have much interaction with the Tzu Chings, I am very thankful that they are willing to make good use of their spare time to help the children. And this programme has definitely relieved the financial burden for some care recipients during this unprecedented period of time as through this programme, the child will certainly find interest in their subject of weakness and slowly improve from there.”