Dear Shahirah, you are not a waste of time.

Over the weekend, we welcomed our #BeyondAwesome kids to our space.  We were running short on #WorldChangeAgents (if you can commit to serving at least two weekends a week either on the pick up crew or at our sessions, please click here) so we were off to a shaky start.  It takes at least 8 to 10 helping hands to make the sessions run from stationing ourselves at various void decks, lift landings and resident’s corners.  

But we made it work.  Just as we always do thanks to the passion and commitment of our #WorldChangeAgents.  The kids streamed in, some on sugar highs others a little intimidated since they are still relatively new to our program.  We all settle down on the big carpets and rugs - kindly donated by our community of supporters - and prepare to introduce the kids to a new face to our team, Lexie.  Lexie relocated to Singapore about 8 months ago from Australia and brings with her over 25 years of teaching experience with a specialty in children’s literacy.  In a nutshell, she was an answer to our prayers!  

Our story-telling session kicks off and we move the kids over to tables where they can spend the afternoon engrossed in a craft activity related to the story they had just heard.  I personally walk around to interact with kids on each table and Shahirah’s artwork catches my eye.  I head over to her and notice how much concentration and effort she’s putting into drawing her characters.  I make a mental note to circle round and check back on her progress.

A little while later, I loop round Shahirah and ask her to show me her work.  She proudly beams up at me and confidently explains how each character was drawn after Lexie and her family (husband, David and daughter, Charlotte) who were helping out with the session that day.  I ask her to read out the note and I struggle to hold back my emotions and quickly praise her for her thoughtful note.  I encourage her to share it with Lexie, David and Charlotte and watch her run to each to share.

It moves me when a child Shahirah’s age is bursting with gratitude for something as simple as spending quality time at our sessions.  But what shakes me to my core is her line, “You wasted your time coming here to read to us!”

What makes a child feel that she is a waste of anyone’s time?  What could she possibly be going through on the days we don’t see little Shahirah?  

So I do what I always do when faced with something like this.  I create a mental letter to them that also drives me - and our team - to do, act and love better:

Dear Shahirah,

Please do not feel that we wasted our time and that spending time with you is anything to feel bad for.  You are incredibly bright, talented, confident and….awesome!  You have so much potential ahead of you and we can’t wait to see what adventures lay ahead of you in life.  All of us on our team are cheering you on.  You don’t see it but we talk about you and we SEE you.  We talk about your siblings.  We talk about your peers.  We know of the heartache that must be evident when you go home after you shared that a baby sibling passed away recently.  We know that you just want to try your best at all the activities we have planned for you on any given day you are with us. We know you love to read and want so badly for one of our team members to just sit by you and open a book of adventures together. So hold your head up high and shoot for the stars because all of us know what an exceptional human being you are growing into!

Dear Shahirah, you are not a waste of time.

With Love, Emily and the #WorldChangeAgent Team.

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