Tugas speaks from her own experience – she was a single mother to her eldest son for 12 years. While she began her journey feeling shameful and regretful due to the social stigma, she derived strength and support from the amazing women around her.
“Single-parent families are perceived as dysfunctional and there’s an expectation that children who grow up in these households would be troubled or have issues,” Tugas confides. “But my mum and my best friends believed in me and supported my decision. They reminded me that I was making the right decision not just for myself, but for my son as well.”
Now married, the mother of three – besides her 19-year-old son, she has two younger daughters who are 5 years and 20 months old respectively – Tugas has come a long way. “It’s hard to see light at the end of the tunnel when you are just about to make the decision or just made the decision. Women need to know it’s a journey, that it will get better, and I am living proof of that.”
You play an active role in building a community for the women Daughters Of Tomorrow serves. Why is this community important?
Knowing that you are not alone in your journey gives you courage. What’s special about a community of women is, we know how to empower one another. And we also know when we just need to offer a listening ear – sometimes that’s what most women need.
Many women who want to volunteer often hesitate for various reasons, such as due to lack of time or training.
This was the same issue I had for many years before learning about Daughters Of Tomorrow. Passion, as well as understanding what motivates you, are key. There should be a genuine interest not just to help, but to also want to connect with our beneficiaries, to be their friend and invested in their success.
Some beneficiaries take longer to open up to befrienders. How do you deal with rejection?
I am so thankful to the Life on the Edge programme, which Daughters Of Tomorrow organised as part of onboarding. It allowed me to better understand what our beneficiaries may have gone or are going through. Some women may become doubtful of our intentions due to past experiences. So I learnt to be patient and not take it personally. I gave them space instead – and didn’t force any conversation or share my own experiences. I also try to have fun with them, so they know our interactions need not always be serious or heavy.
Your best moment as a volunteer with Daughters Of Tomorrow?
In December 2020, we distributed Swensen’s vouchers to the women so they could enjoy a meal with their family. One of my beneficiaries decided to bring out me out on a Christmas date – I thought that was very sweet and humbling! It was our first time meeting in person. She even got presents for my little girl!
You can help to empower women and enable families through various programmes: Befriender, Volunteer Childminder, Supportive Employer, Poverty Sensitisation Workshops, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Donation/Fundraising. Find out more about these opportunities at Daughters of Tomorrow here.
Main photo credits: Studio Aeonz, Set Styling and Creative Direction: BDVA, Clothing and Accessories: Interviewee’s own, Makeup and Hair: Fifty Shades Makeup Academy, Products: COTY Inc.
This article was first published in The Singapore Women’s Weekly.