Serving the vulnerable, locally and overseas

By Sondra Foo, Corporate Communications

On the video call with Stephanie De Witt, on her 10th work anniversary, the 32-year-old looked immaculate in her office wear, with her long hair neatly tied up. Ever considerate, she moved to a meeting room to focus on the interview. Her eyes sparkled as she smiled, and she took contemplative pauses in between questions, reflecting her thoughtful nature. 

Behind the scenes of disaster missions

Born to a Singaporean Indian mother and Eurasian father, Stephanie spent her first years after graduation in the aviation sector. After she joined the SRC International Services team, she realised that the charity scene was “radically different” from her prior experience. She had to learn the ropes fast, and her colleague, Chia Swee Kim, provided guidance on fund disbursement, project management and administration. 

Stephanie’s responsibilities included liaising with key stakeholders from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement partners; and ground partners involved in rebuilding work worldwide. She was also directly involved in making travel and logistics arrangements for disaster missions. 

With a tinge of pride, Stephanie shared, “SRC would help tens of thousands of people affected by disasters. When I watch the news of SRC’s response, I feel heartened that my behind-the-scenes efforts have paid off. Initially, I had thought my contribution was small, but it had indirectly led to a profound impact - it served a larger community.” 

Stephanie also played a role in building the capacity of Vanuatu’s first aid programme, aimed at engaging the community to get trained in first aid. Through her administrative work, the training programme got off to a roaring success. 

Having seen time and again how her work contributed to the larger picture, Stephanie found meaning in her work, which spurred her on. 

In 2012, Stephanie was tasked to accompany the winners of the International Humanitarian Law debate, on a trip to the Philippines. She brought the group of four students and a teacher on a learning visit to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; the International Committee of the Red Cross; and the Philippine Red Cross (PRC). 

“We learnt how the PRC reached out to the communities, and how they prepared for frequent disasters. I was then invited to share about our work. It was my first overseas trip and I lacked experience compared to our hosts, but they were earnest to hear from me, and interested in what I had to say. That experience boosted my confidence,” recounted Stephanie. 

Her tireless efforts in meeting the needs of the students and teachers did not go unnoticed. At the end of the trip, the students gave her little notes of gratitude that touched her immensely. 

Over the years, Stephanie would continue to be touched by the resilience of disaster survivors, and appreciative of SRC’s efforts in giving humanitarian aid to disaster-stricken countries.

From global to local 

After eight years in the International Services team, Stephanie yearned to serve the needs of communities in Singapore. In 2019, she ventured out of her comfort zone, and joined the Community Resilience team.

For six months, she worked closely with organisations on the deployment of Community FirstAid and First Aider on Wheels (FAOW) volunteers at their events. 

Thereafter, Stephanie was roped into the Home Monitoring and Eldercare (HoME+) team. There, she oversees the installation of HoME+ devices in homes of elderly residents, and works with community partners to get the service known to those with seniors living on their own.

She explained, “HoME+ is an assurance to the elderly that someone is always on the lookout for them. If our devices detect a period of inactivity, we will be alerted. Should emergencies arise, our Singapore Red Cross Community Responders will be the first to respond.”

Stephanie also manages a pool of volunteer community responders. Her phone is switched on 24/7 so she can provide guidance to volunteers on the next steps to take if no one answers the door. 

Stephanie also has to step up and be prepared to go down as the last responder; termed as such as these volunteer responders are deployed on last resort and have to travel from one end of Singapore to another if the need arises. 

Notwithstanding these challenges, Stephanie feels that she is in the right sector. 

“Our programmes are targeted at people who fall through the cracks of society’s social safety nets. I’m proud to serve, and I truly hope our efforts will garner the support of more volunteers and donors!” she said.

Stephanie looks back at her past decade with wistful gratitude and pride, and hopes to continue serving the community for as long as she can. 

She affirmed, “It has been an eye-opening experience, and through the people whom I’ve had the good fortune of meeting, I’ve learnt to count my blessings in life. My experience tells me our work and our effort are important to our beneficiaries. Regardless of the size of our individual contributions, no matter how big or small, the collective impact of our work is always larger than we can imagine, and that keeps me going.”