During the circuit breaker last year, Ms P Santhia chanced upon SPD’s appeal for volunteer befrienders on the Giving.sg page. Her interest was piqued as befriending elderly with physical disabilities was a novel experience for her. Keen to do her part for the community, she reached out to SPD to register her interest.
“As someone who is surrounded by loved ones and able to carry out tasks independently, I found it wearing to adapt to the COVID-19 restrictions. I could only imagine how onerous it would be for an individual who is less able than me. Hence, I decided to devote as much time as I could for the less privileged,” said the 26-year-old, who was studying in the National University of Singapore back then.
With that, June 2020 marked the start of Ms Santhia’s journey with SPD, where she serves as a volunteer befriender to 74-year-old Mdm Angie (not her real name) who has childhood post-polio syndrome.
As her volunteering stint began during the circuit breaker, Ms Santhia was one of the first tele-befrienders that SPD engaged and trained. With home visits suspended, Ms Santhia made regular phone calls to check on Mdm Angie. These phone calls were also what kept Mdm Angie company throughout the circuit breaker, as she lives alone and is also unable to travel out independently.
In the beginning, it was challenging for Ms Santhia to engage the senior as they had yet to form a bond, making interaction difficult. With her perseverance and the support from SPD’s social work and volunteer management team, Ms Santhia managed to get the senior to open up to her gradually.
As time passed, the pair developed a beautiful friendship where they could even talk on the phone for hours now! They finally got to put a face to each other’s names when Ms Santhia visited Mdm Angie at her home when the safety measures were relaxed a few months later, even bringing along some goodies to share.
Determined to keep the friendship going, Ms Santhia’s commitment to support Mdm Angie has not wavered even as she secured her first full time job after graduation.
Said Ms Santhia: “Tele-befriending was an enriching experience which aided me greatly in my personal growth. I learnt to exercise patience, empathise with individuals whom I have yet to meet and listen attentively, amongst many other attributes. I am deeply grateful to SPD for providing this opportunity and for perpetually looking out for me.”
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our volunteers who have contributed their valuable time to journey with us as we advance our cause.