Our community of #WorldChangeAgents (volunteers) are off on so many adventures through our Beyond Awesome program. We wanted to take some time to introduce you to some of our favourite faces - well loved by youth in our program as well as those who serve alongside! Scroll to the very bottom to see how you can get involved/contribute!
When I’m not volunteering at Beyond Awesome...: I am a mother of two beautiful children who I feel very blessed to guide and raise. I also run a meditation business called The Meditation Teacher based here in Singapore. I hold private courses, corporate and high school courses and well as retreats to Java Indonesia. I was born in Sydney Australia, and have lived in London and New York with my earlier career. I have a legal and financial background and had a wonderful career in strategic planning, capital raising and corporate communications, before I decided to focus on serving the community.
I have always volunteered my time to community-based programs like Blessings in a Bag and I also donate generously to charities each month from the proceeds of my meditation courses. I believe this is everyone's responsibility to help in whichever way they can those in the community who need help and support. In the two years before I left Australia to live in Singapore I started a community-based program in Sydney called GIFT. It enabled the gifting of un-used family items like clothes, books and furniture to families in the same neighbourhood who were struggle without. It also enabled cook-offs of nutritional family meals that were given for free to hungry families in the local area via a local food bank along with ingredients, recipes and nutritional information to the families could recreate better meals at home. GIFT continues today and I think it's one of the reasons that I connect so deeply with BiaB which has similar focus on helping children find belonging and enrichment.
Three words I would use to describe myself: These change nearly every day...but today my three words are: Happy, fulfilled, spirited
One fun-fact that you may not know about me: I surf and play guitar!
Where was the last place you travelled to and what did you do? I love travelling and make a point to travel both with family, but also on my own each year if possible. This year I have travelled to Utah to spend time with Naive American elders, the French Alps for some hiking with the kids and in a few weeks I am off with a girlfriend to visit the ancient sites of England and Ireland.
How did you find out about the program? My friend Lexie (who has since moved to NY) introduced me to the program too years ago which I am very grateful for.
How often do you volunteer with the program? Once a month
What do you do in the program? I hold mindfulness and meditation sessions with the kids. The emphasis is two-fold. To teach them more about their human design and how it remains healthy and balance when we dwell in present awareness; and to nurture states of gratitude and awe and wonder in life and in themselves.
What have your experiences been like with the program? Its a pleasure and privileged for me to be involved. Despite most of these kids having a tough start in life, I am always blown-away by their curiosity and enthusiastic engagement with what I can show them. The program itself is beautifully run, very progressive in it's thinking and willing to try new things always - this is what keeps it dynamic and growing.
Why did you want to/do you volunteer with the program? It's a major aspect of my purpose in life and I tend to focus volunteering effort on programs that support children, families and women.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being involved with Beyond Awesome? The insightful an often very funny and cheeky feedback discussion we have after the mindfulness practices. The program also has a very welcoming and energetic culture which I love.
Can you share your favourite session or moment that has stayed with you from being with our program? I have been so happy with all the sessions, but one of my favourites has to be this recent July session: We explored the wonder of the senses. We talked about how hearing, sight, touch and taste really work and how we can so easily take these dazzling powers for granted.
We also talked about gut feel, the intelligence of the digestive track and shared examples of when our tummies and bodies told us something that our thinking mind wasn't aware of. One very tuned-in boy shared that he could sense his teacher coming when he was eating a sweet he shouldn't have been in class. He popped it into his pocket just in time. (An excellent use of gut-feel I say!)
We then experienced a practice of mindful eating which is based on a much older one called 'Raisin Contemplation'. The kids each took a small piece of fresh fruit and entered into stillness. Then step by step they engaged with the fruit with all the senses and feelings.
What followed was a very animated and beautiful discussion about how just through the fingertips, in one touch, we can sense temperature, texture, size, moisture; or how our mouth responds in an explosion of senses when we place a small piece of orange on the tongue; and how the tongue and jaw move in a dance to chew and how the tummy starts to grumble and almost reach up to receive when it senses yummy fruit on the way. So fun!
Think back on all your time journeying with the students…can you think of one specific interaction you’ve had with a child that has just stayed with you? There's one little girl who was new to the program when I came in. She was very quiet and had large beautiful eyes. They held so much - sadness, questions and also curiosity. I was very drawn to her and sat with her during the craft exercise after the meditation which was focussing on finding different perspectives on what we see in life and with our friends. She slowly opened and created some beautiful expressions in her craft. Later I learnt that she had experienced violence at home. I didn't see her again for some time and then in the new year when I returned for my session, one of the volunteers gave me a card that the children had made for me. She had written a beautiful message of thanks and said 'I was the best'. It reminded me that sometimes just sitting with someone and feeling what they are feeling is enough.
What tips do you have for new volunteers? Just do it! Be clear on what time you are able to commit and try to be consistent - whether that's once a month like me or whatever you can manage. Relationships are formed quickly with the children and they are so excited to see you come in again. The volunteers are like trusted family for these little ones and our presence, smiles and softness is what they are needing most. Don't worry if you don't have a particular skill like meditation for example, it's your presence that is the most powerful thing.
What would you say to someone who is considering volunteering with Beyond Awesome? Go to an information session, meet the other volunteers and follow your heart. It's not a huge draw on your time but it yields such huge blessings and expansion of your own sense of self and was you are able to achieve through giving.
Interested to volunteer? https://www.giving.sg/manage-volunteers?orgId=3179208
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Interested to contribute any amount from anywhere in the world? *click*