Benefitting from Tuition and Learning Patience

At home, Zaki Malek (not his real name), lives with his father, a food delivery rider and two siblings, in a one-room rental flat in Yishun. In the past, Zaki was not motivated to submit his homework at school because there was no one to provide him with guidance on completing his homework. Now, through the Singapore Red Cross' Young Hearts programme, tutors guide him to understand the concepts and complete his homework. Besides helping him academically, the Young Hearts programme also enabled him to gain exposure by visiting different areas and engaging in various activities. The tutors at the Young Hearts programme mentored and guided him, to navigate the labyrinth of emotions, while embracing mindfulness, patience, compassion, empathy, kindness, love, and forgiveness.

"At home, I don't have a place where I can be alone and study," said nine-year-old Zaki Malek (not his real name), who benefits from the Singapore Red Cross (SRC) Young Hearts programme

Zaki lives with his father, a food delivery rider and two siblings in a one-room rental flat in Yishun while his mother, an administrator, lives nearby. 

Yet, he tries to make the best of his life's circumstances.

"I love it when I get to share the bed with everyone I love," said Zaki, a primary three student.

Young Hearts Programme Helps Out With His Homework

Zaki first learnt about the SRC's Young Hearts programme through his father.

"My father spoke to volunteers of the Young Hearts Programme. He asked me to spend my time there. It is convenient as I live above the block where the centre is. Turns out that I love it," said Zaki. 

Zaki looks forward to meeting Teacher Siti Nurbalkis (Balkis) at the Young Hearts Centre.

"Before I joined the Young Hearts programme, I was not motivated to do my homework because there was no one to teach me homework. Since joining the Young Hearts programme, I have always loved going to the centre because I can complete my homework with my teacher. Teacher Balkis helps me a lot with my homework and reading. After I have completed my homework, I would read a few pages of a book before I play. Teacher Ferlynn would give me a hot drink and biscuits whenever I was hungry. Now, I can submit my homework to the teacher at school because I did it at the centre. I love studying and playing," said Zaki, whose favourite subjects are English and Math.

Academically, joining the Young Hearts programme has made a difference in Zaki's grades.

"My grades have improved. Teacher Balkis reminds me that as long as I try, that is an improvement already," Zaki said. 

By providing tuition to children from disadvantaged families, the teachers at the Young Hearts programme help to level the playing field with the children's peers, giving them opportunities to advance in life. 

Besides benefitting academically, he forges bonds with his friends at the Young Hearts centre. 

"I love playing with my friends. I feel welcome here," Zaki said. 

Broadening His Exposure

Apart from building camaraderie with friends at the centre, the Young Hearts programme enriches his life by broadening his horizons and engaging him in activities and places he seldom had the opportunity to engage in or visit. 

"Previously, I was always at home or delivering food with my father on the three-wheel scooter. Now, through the Young Hearts programme, I visit places I have never been before. I went bowling, badminton, and the Universal Studios Singapore. I hope to go to Marina Square on May 25 & 26 to see my flamingo drawing at the shopping centre," Zaki said, who enjoys badminton and drawing. 

Presented by the Peace of Art, Zaki’s drawing will be showcased at the Sustainable Kids Market which advocates the art of sustainable living and fundraises for young children from disadvantaged families that the Singapore Red Cross Young Hearts programme serves.  

Navigating Challenges

Besides that, the teachers of the Young Hearts programme provide Zaki with mentorship and guidance that enable Zaki to navigate a labyrinth of emotions at home and school. 

"I get ignored all the time at home and school. When I feel sad, Teacher Balkis would try to cheer me up," he said. 

Another challenge he faces is his anger management. 

Developing Patience

"Nobody wants to play with me in school because I often get angry," Zaki said. 

He recounted an instance where he lost his cool in an argument. Teacher Balkis of the Young Hearts programme played an instrumental role in calming him down.

"Teacher Balkis told me that I need to let go of the small things that make me angry because if I always get angry, I will often be unhappy. It will be a sad and tiring life. Later, Teacher Ferlynn gave me Milo because I was tired from crying. Now, I try to be patient before I get angry. I learnt not to give up. I learnt a lot from this place," said Zaki. 

In the vast tapestry of life, teachers play an indispensable role in sowing the seeds of introspection to tame young minds. The teachers are the role models and torchbearers illuminating and paving the way for the children to break free of stagnant patterns, and elevate their mindset and habits while embracing compassion and patience. The teachers open the gateway to profound healing in the children's minds and spirits so the children remain anchored in positivity. The teachers also create a ripple effect of compassion. 

Zaki is appreciative of the tutors of the Young Hearts programme.

"Thank you for giving me a place to learn and play. I love coming here every day after school. Teacher Balkis and Teacher Ferlynn always listened to my stories from school and gave me advice whenever my classmates did not want to befriend me," Zaki said. 

When asked about his ambition in life, Zaki said, "I don't know what I want to be. But I know that when I grow up, I want to be a good and helpful person like Teacher Balkis."

This story underscores that tutors of the Young Hearts programme play a profound role in shaping young hearts and minds. 

By Sondra Foo, Marketing & Communications

Inspired? Volunteer or donate to the Singapore Red Cross.

Shop for a good cause at the Sustainable Kids Market, presented by Peace of Art, at Marina Sands on 25 & 26 May. All the proceeds will be channelled to the Singapore Red Cross' Young Hearts programme. Check out the auction, to be held from 17 May to 9 June.