by Padre Nigel Tulley
In the midst of the busy sea-training and transit by HMCS REGINA to Op ARTEMIS, the Ship’s Company had an opportunity to provide aid to a large group of excited orphans at the Jamiyah Children’s Home during our replenishment port visit in Singapore. With the full support of our Captain, Commander Boyd, and Canada’s High Commission in Singapore, a contingent of sailors and members of the High Commission visited the orphanage. They presented fundraising cheques and much needed appliances to the total of $ 12880.00, for the orphanage. It was a memorable experience for HMCS REGINA and the High Commission staff as they went on a tour of the new orphanage. Just completed, it has a desperate need for more accommodation for the growing number of children placed in the Home’s care!
“As the number of underprivileged children continues to grow in Singapore, there is a great need for more facilities like this,” states the Home’s Administrator Mr. Kayat. “Jamiyah Children’s home which actually means ‘House of Bliss’ receives the full support of the National Singapore Council of Social Services, but we depend mostly on donations from organizations like Canada’s Navy.”
As we enjoyed the tour we met a myriad of children from 2 to 19 years and learned that Jamiyah Children’s home is part of a voluntary welfare organization which was established in 1993. This venture was part of a response to a developing concern by Singapore’s Social Services around the growing numbers of neglected children, many of whom had been abused, or have special needs. Mr. Kayat, in his presentation, was able to articulate that many of the 89 orphans currently at the home come here feeling lonely, abandoned and uncertain about their future. The home with its caring staff and volunteers comprised of educators, mentors, previous graduates and counsellors provide a climate of protection, support, stability and family.
“Some of these children have experienced trauma and saw their dreams crushed because of abuse and rejection. We, here at the home, provide a holistic approach which offers shelter, care, and development for the children. That is why we are truly glad to have you all here during our observance of the Muslim celebration of Ramadan to share in this vision of caring for them,” smiles Mr. Kayat.
As the tour continued, we had a chance to meet graduates of the orphanage who had gone on to become doctors, teachers, engineers and media and business officials. We could see they really celebrated the accomplishments of the children and greatly appreciation our visit. As a way of showing our support we had an opportunity to finish up some minor renovations to the home and later had some significant interaction time with the children doing arts and crafts projects. It was exciting for the crew of HMCS REGINA to have an opportunity to support the important work done at the home and many of the sailors had thoughts of their own children back in Canada who await their return.
“I’m so glad I participated in this outreach,” comments one of the young Leading Seaman. “It’s being involved in humanitarian projects like this when we sail around the world that makes me feel really proud to be a Canadian,” He adds with a smile.
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