It’s been often said that food is the ingredient that binds people together, the thing that holds a society together. With this, the Building Bridges EIPIC Centre at SPD@Tampines piloted its first #MakanBonding session in March for caregivers. Social work associate, Valery Veronica Lee shares more of the activities.
The #MakanBonding sessions were mooted to provide a platform for networking and sharing in a safe and comfortable environment. Through conversations over food and facilitated by SPD’s social workers, the staff had greater understanding of the caregivers’ concerns and that allowed them to work better together in supporting the children on their learning journey. Following the good reception of the pilot run, another five sessions were conducted in March and April, attended by a total of 54 parents.
Over food, parents and caregivers shared their concerns for their children. Managing their children’s behaviours, in particular, meltdowns, aloofness and poor social interaction were commonly raised concerns. As responsible and caring parents, they wanted to know possible strategies they could put in place for their children and to help them integrate into society.
Amid the laughter and tears, it was also uplifting to witness the participants’ willingness and sincerity in supporting one another, even sharing self-care tips among themselves. A grandmother demonstrated the morning exercises that she did to keep herself fit so that she could take better care of her grandchildren. They also exchanged useful tips, such as their coping mechanism and handling challenging situations. As one of the parents summed it up, “Let our child grow and develop at his own time. Don’t force our expectations on them.”
The discussions were relevant and engaging, and one caregiver suggested having more of such bonding activities.
Participants also expressed keen interest to contribute to the centre in various ways, such as photography, cooking, baking and giving tuition. It was heartening to know that the caregivers were so forthcoming in giving back.
“It was encouraging to see how the caregivers progress from being strangers to exchanging thoughts, feelings, information and ideas. Seeing the caregivers’ joyous looks and hearing their words of appreciation warmed our hearts,” said Valery.