A Heart For The Underprivileged

When he was younger, Clement was often puzzled when he heard the story of the boy who rescued starfish by throwing them back into the sea. He just could not see how this would help the thousands of starfish that were swept ashore by the currents.

Today, as a social worker, Clement finally understands what the boy was getting at. “Like the boy, we may not be able to help everybody, but the important thing is to help who we can,” Clement reflected. “In Singapore, despite our rapid economic progress, there are families who are left behind and they struggle to keep afloat financially. Though not often in the public eye, their plight is very real and is made worse by the current economic pressures.”

In Clement’s work, he assists families who are in a tight spot financially by helping them apply for short term financial assistance and guiding them in working out a long term plan for self reliance. Besides that, he also provides emotional support, basic counselling, as well as link beneficiaries up with other community resources.

Currently, one of the projects he is deeply involved in is the Viriya Children’s Medical Fund which was launched in June 2010 to help families with chronically ill children who need long term medical care. As the Second Officer-In-Charge, he helps families apply for financial assistance, link them up with community resources, as well as organise support groups and relevant workshops for them.

“Many of the families we help face deep rooted issues which have no easy and immediate solutions. But we try to do the best we can.” Clement shared with a smile.

A good heart is far more important than good grades

Clement_Cheong_08Seeing Clement with the families he assists, it is hard to believe that he did not go straight into social work after finishing his tertiary education. “I was a science student previously and once envisaged myself working in the science industry. While I believe every profession can benefit society, I wanted to do something which has a more direct impact on individuals and families,” Clement explained.

Once Clement arrived at that decision, he signed up for the Graduate Diploma in Social Work with UniSIM, and has never looked back. “The course was an eye-opener to me on many levels. It is so different from the many courses I have attended. The coursework sessions taught me the theoretical framework of social work practice, while the practicum sharpened my clinical skills.

“Early on in the training, I had to start thinking and dealing with issues like a caseworker. I was exposed to many real life examples, and I was introduced to an extensive network of experienced caseworkers in the field. Even during the assessments, I could not just learn the theory to pass. I had to read widely and consider issues from various perspectives to support the decisions I arrived at in my answer scripts and projects,” Clement explained. “And possibly the most important thing I learnt during the WSQ Graduate Diploma is that, in social work, a good heart is far more important than good grades.”

Challenges Ahead

Clement_Cheong_09Though his work situation today is far more demanding than the diploma programme he underwent, Clement thanks the vigorous training for his confidence in dealing with the many challenges he faces every day.

“The cases I deal with and the people I work with are so varied. Besides the financial and medical issues I commonly work on, I am also involved in many ad-hoc projects, such as the ‘CANtribute’ canned food collection drive, the ‘Luv-a thon, which is an Amazing Race-style couple bonding event held in Sentosa, as well as my organisation’s Annual Flag Day, and Dinner and Dance.

“Sometimes, when I have many projects on hand, or when my casework is not progressing well, I’ll wonder if I’m up to managing all these social issues. At times like these, I’ll sit back and take a moment to remember the story of the boy with the starfish and look back at what I’ve learnt in the diploma programme, then I’ll be recharged once again to take on the challenges ahead.”

Shared from : Social Worker SG
Source :WDA Singapore


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