Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Making Singapore the best home to live in: Enlist girls for social service, basic training

Raymond's letter on the above idea is published in the New Paper today, Wednesday 30th June 2010, page 16.

I have been following the exchange of views about women doing national service.

It is troubling to read reports of our teens getting in trouble with the law, the elderly being abused, the increase in divorce cases and families falling apart as they try to cope with the pressures of our fast-paced society.

Singapore is also seeing one of the fastest ageing populations in the world and measures have to be put in place so that our old folks can have a better quality of life in their twilight years.

Instead of our girls doing military service as part of national service, I would suggest that once they turn 18, they be enlisted for social service for one year, with three months of basic training – running alongside the national service scheme for our males, but modified where applicable.

Our hospitals and nursing homes need more staff to tackle the growing needs of the sick. Our elderly need a range of home-help services that could include meal delivery, cleaning services and befrienders.

People with mental illness are often isolated and left to fend for themselves. The volunteers at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) have been bringing joy and comfort to long-staying patients who are often isolated and lonely.

I am sure IMH could well do with more resources, given that with more public education, more people are coming forward for treatment.

Performing community service not only instills discipline, but can help our girls to feel for the less fortunate.

Once this sense of caring for another human being is ingrained in our young trained females, they will be able, at a later stage, to pass on such virtues to their own families, colleagues and friends.

Ultimately if you have love in your heart, procreation can come naturally.

If our young female trainees get a feel of community work, they might also want to consider a career in the places that the are attached to.

If we build a nation of citizens who know how to care for one another, wouldn't Singapore be the best home to live in?


Friday, June 18, 2010

“Family must remain pillar of society” says MCYS Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishan. Raymond responds to the Minister's statement

Raymond's letter to the New Paper: "Support for those who care for mentally ill"
Published on Friday 18 th June 2010, page 22.

I refer to the article, “Family must remain pillar of society” (The New Paper, 8 June). I agree with Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Dr Vivian Balakrishan that the family must remain the crucial, social pillar of our nation.

However, those suffering from mental illness cannot always rely on family support because the illness is unpredictable and requires round-the- clock supervision.

Family members who do not have the patience and perseverance will not want to travel this journey.

We are discriminated againts, isolated and shunned. My wife and I are in this unfortunate predicament, and so are many other psychiatric patients.

Caregivers like me are not asking for the Government to take on the role of surrogate family or relative.

What we want is good caregiver support to make our journey easier.

The bone in my right heel has worn out and causes severe pain when I walk.

My wife who have several chronic illnesses, also has great difficult walking because of arthritis.
There will come a time when we will have to take taxis wherever we go.

I have asked for the peak hour taxi surcharges and Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) charges to be waived for people like us, but to no avail.

Yet, the Land Transport Authority was flexible enough to reduce the ERP rates fees at certain gantries during the June holidays.


I wish we could get cooked meals deliverd or be able to buy ready-to-cook food from the supermarkets.

But my suggestions have got me nowhere. Nobody seems to be willing to help.

Some people have suggested that I place my wife in a nursing home.

My answer to them is simple: “Even if I am in a wheelchair, I will walk with her- all the way. And if schizophrenia and other illnesses are part of her life, it must surely be part of my life”.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Letter to the New Paper: More social support needed for mentally ill

Raymond's letter on the above matter is published in the New Paper on Monday 14 June 2010, page 17.

I am encouraged by two recent media reports which indicate to me that the Government is listening to feedback and is willing to provide better support for low-income families, including those with mental health issues.

One was, “Work Support Programme - Govt study to track impact of scheme” (The New Paper, June 4).

The proposed study on the Work Support Programme will enable the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports to fine-tune the programmes to give better support for low income families.

This is the right move given that we are facing more and more social problems.

Under the programme, I urge the Government to consider awarding grants or sponsorship that could allow those with special needs such as psychiatric patients and their caregivers to work from home with the skills that they possess or could acquire.

There was also a report in The Straits Times on June 5, “$70m more for Temasek charity”.
Temasek Cares, a charity funded by Temasek Holdings, is giving good support to the mentally ill.

I share the view of chairman Richard Magnus that mental illness is not an area given much attention in Singapore.

To raise caregiving to a higher level, I urge Temasek Cares and the Government to consider building affordable hostels within the grounds of the Institute of Mental Health or in the vicinity so that caregivers can rent a room and be close to their loved ones hospitalised there.

Providing strong emotional support can be vital to their quick recovery.

These hostels could also be rented out when required in other circumstances, such when the Lift Upgrading Programme(LUP) is carried out.

One of the trigger factors that can cause my wife to fall seriously ill is excessive noise such as the hacking of the brick walls during the LUP.

It was no easy feat for me to frantically hunt for cheaper alternative accommodation when this started in our block recently.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

One of Singapore's best emcees, show host and MC- Meet the fabulous Joe Augustin

Joe Augustin is one of the best DJ's in the business. He is a great compere, Master of Ceremonies and a good host. Joe who has 23 years experience , is probably the best insurance you can buy to ensure your events runs smoothy.

At a recent church event, he was so polished and gave a sterling performance. The 1,000 strong audience clicked so well with his easy-going, warm style. And everyone has a roaring good time. Thanks for the memories , Joe. Will definitely recommend you to my friends.

To get to know Joe better, click onto this link:
You can also see his vibrant personality on the picture further down.

Raymond Anthony Fernando