For the Children: A refuge, a safe haven, a future

Gerardine Nonis-Yap is the CEO of Chen Su Lan Methodist Children’s Home. A social worker by profession, Gerardine joined the Home in 2005. She worships at St Vincent de Paul Church.

Four asian children playing in the park.

“Your story may not have a happy beginning, but that does not make you who you are. It is the rest of your story, who you choose to be.”

For the past 46 years, our children have come to us from extremely difficult and challenging family backgrounds, such as abusive environments, single parent with financial problems, and one or both parents suffering from mental or physical illness. Children are prone to be left on their own, neglected and often skipping school.

The decision to place these children in our Home is often a last resort. The Ministry of Social and Family Development, Family Courts, Social workers and Family Service Centres work very hard to explore ways and means to keep families together, often seeking the support of the extended families.

It is only when these options run out that the children are entrusted into our care, typically for an average of four to five years, with a mandatory six-monthly review to determine the possibility of family re-integration.

For every child who comes to us, there is always an unhappy story. Our role is to try and turn their “story” around, and to launch them to become happy and responsible adults of faith grounded in Christian values.

We like the outlook of one of our residents, a 14-year old, who quoted from Kung Fu Panda: “Your story may not have a happy beginning, but that does not make you who you are. It is the rest of your story, who you choose to be.”

[vc_separator style=”shadow” border_width=”3″ el_width=”40″]

Nineteen-year-old KL, one of our residents, has just applied to the National University of Singapore after completing her ‘A’ levels. She shares her story with us.

I’ve been living at the Home for almost 10 years now. My Dad left my three brothers and me when I was just seven. We were Malaysian citizens, and my mother was uneducated. This put great pressure on my mother, both financially and emotionally. She slipped into depression.

“We had no relatives here, and were forced to live in harsh conditions after my father left. I remembered starving during the day, as my mother could only afford giving us a slice of bread for breakfast, and provide dinner on a meagre amount. It helped that our school, Geylang Methodist Primary School, placed us on the Financial Assistance Scheme.

“My brothers and I were admitted to Chen Su Lan Methodist Children’s Home because of our dire circumstances. I was nine then.

“The Home has not only provided for my physical and emotional wellbeing, but has also given me an extended family. I really do cherish the good and ‘bad’ times with my fellow friends residing in the Home. The good memories remind me that although we do not have riches, we have been overwhelmed with love and understanding from our peers and staff, as well as the generous and benevolent volunteers who visited us.

“On the other hand, the ‘bad’ times have helped us to grow up, and learn to give and take. This has helped strengthen our friendships and our decision-making processes.

“The Home has also seen to the needs of my mother – they are ever-ready to give her a tender listening ear, and provide endearing and encouraging counsel whenever she falls into a depressive episode.

“I am overwhelmed with gratitude even as I write this testimony. God has always been watching over us. Now I know why I never felt lonely even in the early days, which were dark and bleak. He had been with me all along. His ways are higher than our ways, His thoughts higher than our thoughts.

“Yes, He never promised us smooth sailing, but what He definitely has promised us is a safe landing. This is the one thing I am always reminded and reassured of.

[vc_separator style=”shadow” border_width=”3″ el_width=”40″]
Children are encouraged to express their creativity in the Artist-in-Us programme
Sports activities are one way to help the children build up their physical stamina.

General Office
202 Serangoon Garden Way, Singapore 556057
Tel: 6285-4941 Fax: 6285-4942
Email: info@cslmch.org.sg Website: www.cslmch.org.sg
Visits to the Home are by appointment only

• Established by the Chen Su Lan Trust and Wesley Methodist Church in 1968.
• The Trust, which donated the initial plot of land and $100,000, was set up by the late Dr Chen Su Lan, one of Singapore Methodism’s most distinguished leaders and who was also a physician, anti-opium fighter, philanthropist and social reformer.
• The Home today houses 86 children, aged five to 21 years old, with some requiring special needs attention.
• The children are mainly from single-parent and low-income families which are not able to provide proper care and nurture.

Programmes and activities for the children include:

Emotional Development with each child assigned a social worker.

Spiritual Development through Bible study, youth fellowship and Sunday school, and a dedicated Chapel of Love to give the children a sacred place to worship.

Academic Development through the support of volunteers, paid tutors and the recent recruitment of an Education Manager to focus on each child’s progress.

Youth Development that provides youths with holiday job opportunities and participation in sports.

Youth Leadership through the newly-formed Youth Council modelled after 1 Timothy 4:12 for members to lead by example to help the younger children.

Alumni Development through on-going contact and ties with children who have been reunited with their families, including providing study grants where needed.

Pictures courtesy of Chen Su Lan Methodist Children’s Home