After more than a year working at the Marian Center, which has since changed its name to Good Shepherd Student Care, I embarked on my first ever “business trip”in 2006. I made my way to Sabah, Malaysia. That changed my notion of Marymount Centre.
I realised that it is not just another voluntary welfare organisation in Singapore. It is actually a multi-national corporation (MNC). Malaysians, Indians, Filipinos, Australians, Koreans, Africans, Thais, and more are some of my counterparts. We are part of an MNC, bound together by the Good Shepherd Mission.
During the few days that I was in Sabah, I participated in the annual Asia-Pacific Conference. When I heard the Sisters in my group sharing about their ministries in their own countries I was inspired as they were involved in more challenging social issues. Through them, the Good Shepherd mission became more apparent to me, and I started to really feel the impact of the Euphrasian line, “one person is of more value than the whole world.”
What got me really excited was when I was brought to Tenghilan, a town about an hour’s drive from the state capital, Kota Kinabalu. I was told that the Sisters in Sabah ran a student care service in a nearby village, the same kind of service we have back in 790, Thomson Road, Singapore. Upon reaching the “office”, which was actually a room in a modest house near the village church, I was asked to plan and organise an activity. I got down to my task with much gusto.
I was expecting the children to come to the house but no, we had to go to them instead. I was brought to the community centre of the village, a big building with zinc roofing, dirt flooring and a few noisy fans. The children had just finished their meal. I was told that the organisers needed to provide a meal, otherwise, the parents would not send their children to the session after school. The parents had no issue with their children roaming on their own after school, without the need to complete their homework. It was so different from what I was used to in Singapore. Resources were far more in abundance back home and what we deemed as important would be casually dismissed here due to cultural differences.
The Sabah experience opened my eyes and heart to take a more active role in our Good Shepherd mission. As a lay partner, I am motivated to teach values through meaningful and fun activities in my ministry. No doubt this experience has laid the foundation for my zeal to continue providing values formation to our children in Goode Shepherd Student Care Centre.
~ Shirley Woo ~