When Rachel started the Telok Blangah Mentoring Club, her objective was to “journey with the youths” by partnering them with mentors, and exposing them to four specific areas (sports, business, nature, and arts and music), giving them equal opportunities in learning.
The club, which meets twice a month, started with young people aged between 10 and 17, and 65 mentors. The club is diverse, with youths from all economic, social, religious and educational backgrounds. The mentorship programme is funded by the ward’s residents and patrons, and all the mentors are or were fellow residents.
“With this club, we hope to expand the world view of our pre-teens and teens,” says the good-natured, friendly and approachable MP.
“We have two mentors to every two or three mentees, and our goal is to expose these youths to different fields, because not every young person has the same opportunities for growth and learning. Our mentors plan activities and excursions for them, to give them a better understanding of the world out there.
“So far, the club has proved popular because it’s been more than a year since the mentoring programme started, and the first cohort is still there. Come 2023, we will see a larger cohort. We hope to continue to inspire our young friends to find that one thing that they will be energised by, go deep in, and flourish in his or her lane,” she says.
Despite her many achievements, Rachel had to deal with challenges as she worked to bring some of her ideas to life.
“Youth work is not a simple endeavour. You can’t measure success or see tangible results right away. When you’re helping young people create a better future, it often takes years before you witness the fruits of your labour,” she explains.
“For instance, in the early 2000s, it was difficult speaking to stakeholders about our work at Trybe, because the success stories only came later. Being patient is certainly a challenge with this kind of work, and it takes resilience to hang in there and not give up when you don’t see immediate results.”
While Rachel has lived her life putting others first, she believes that it’s important for all of us to live selflessly as well, and with kindness at the heart of everything we do, so as to make the world a happier and more peaceful place to live.
“My hope is for all of us to be peacemakers. This means not judging or condemning others, expanding your view, understanding different perspectives, and being comfortable with discourse and disagreement. Life is complex, but we can strengthen the social fabric by understanding one another, hearing people out, bringing joy to those in need, and building trust within our communities.”
This article was originally published in Her World.