Shelter homes welcome internships from private sector

THE private sector should play a bigger role to provide job training opportunities and work for children from shelter homes.

Yayasan Sunbeams Home Youth Coordinator Rachel Baptist said the private sector could provide suitable internships and specialised training programmes to cater for children from shelter homes.

“This will benefit mostly the less academically inclined children to have better chance to gain employment when they leave school.

“We welcome corporate companies to offer workshops on topics such as financial management. They could assist the children in deciding their career choices based on their personality and interests,” said Baptist.

She added when the children left at 18 they still need financial guidance and counselling for at least six months upon leaving the shelter homes.

“It will be helpful if they can have sponsors to take care of their accommodation and provide training for about six months after they leave the homes. They could then adjust to working and adult life gradually,” she said.

Baptist also encouraged sponsors and donors to help students from shelter home to pursue their tertiary education.

“They get some allowance until they complete their studies but usually it is not enough as apart from buying study materials, they also have to pay for food and rental for lodging,” she said.

“Compared to children who grow up with a family, these children often take a few years more to manage on their own,,” Baptist added.

Meanwhile Agathians Shelter Council member M. Inthira said shelter homes must be clear of their objective and operations procedure. Children must receive personal attention and be engaged in extra activities such as music and sports. This increases the children’s’ confidence and they often do better than those not exposed to such activities, she said.

“We received children who were illiterate and they were already 15. We would coach the child and give a lot of crash courses and take care of their emotions and enrol them for co curriculum. The children need personal attention.

“We also had children who were kicked out of school but we enrolled them in vocational studies before they turned 18. They have left the home and are doing well.

“We believe early intervention and vocational studies are more suitable when the child is not academically inclined, ” said Inthira.

She added it would be good if the Government formulate a guideline that would benefit children from shelter homes to ensure they do not go astray or join bad hats when they leave the homes.

She said the private sector should invest in skills training for children from shelter homes as part of their corporate social responsibility.

“Companies like to ask if they could do gotong-royong or host parties for us. But we would prefer if they could teach the children financial management skills or IT related skills. Fun doesn’t last but skills can go a long way,” she said.

Rumah Children executive officer David Janssen Nathan said when children left the homes, they are used to the institutionalised setting and required time to adjust to the outside world.

He said families who visit shelter homes should set aside time to interact with the children.

“It is challenging for the underachievers to excel in their career and personal life. Their psychology is such that due to low-self esteem, they would get attached to negative stuff. This also happens during their secondary school years,” said Nathan who emphasises on spiritual guidance and skills-based trainings for his children.

He said the religious based shelter homes were more fortunate as they had counsellors to help them if they encountered problems.

V. Siva Letchmee, 26, who grew up in a shelter home suggested that Government provide modules for survival skills and financial independence courses for operators of shelter homes for them to be taught to the senior children.

“These workshops can be funded by the Government and private sector. Volunteers who are qualified can also conduct the workshops for free.”

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