We were first introduced to Santi and her family in 2017, when we participated in SCC’s Lou Hei Celebration. Back then, we found out that Santi had just lost her husband and was struggling with the changes – a new job and taking care of her two children (a pre-schooler and a young teenager). Despite having gone through a lot in a very short time, our impression of Santi was someone who was resilient and determined to overcome the difficulties so that she can continue to provide for her children.
As family partners, we were “matched” with Santi’s family, to befriend and lend support to them in small ways as they journey into their next phase of life, minus one parent/spouse. As befrienders, we wore many hats: translator, mentor, and tour-guide, among others. Dealing with official correspondences and the relevant authorities can be challenging, as we all know. For Santi who doesn’t know English, this was even more daunting. To support Santi, we would meet her 2-3 times a month, to go through the correspondences and accompany her to CPF Board, banks, and insurance company, as her translator. With the children, we played the role of counsellor to Santi’s teenage daughter, and doubling-up as tour-guide, to bring Santi and her pre-schooler to phonics class on Sundays, so that they are familiar with the bus routes into town.
In our family partnership journey with Santi’s family, there were no major “milestones” to speak of, we would think. But what warmed our heart were the small little changes that we see coming from the family that made all the difference. For example, being confident enough to take public transport on their own, outside of their familiar neighbourhood. On personal reflection, the journey has encouraged us to become more aware. Having been in the family partnership programme for two years, it made us realised that meaningful work is not always about the grand gestures. Instead, it could simply be giving families like Santi the comfort of knowing that they are not alone, that there will be people out there who will walk with and do the smallest things with them.