Nine years and counting today…Happy Birthday, Aidha!
As we close out our financial year (July 2014 – June 2015), we celebrate a year filled with many highs! The last 12 months saw a record 110 students graduating in November 2014, the launch of our inaugural Alumni Development Programme (ADP) in January 2015, being awarded the much coveted IPC (Institution of Public Character) status in April, exceeding our target of $100K in our signature Aidha Tour de Singapore Bike Ride fundraiser (translating to 150 student scholarships) in May, and our very first Big Pitch, which saw all seven Alumni finalists securing both donations and mentoring for a year to help start their small businesses.
These stellar results were only possible because of the sheer grit and determination of our students and our impossibly generous and dedicated volunteers, mentors, donors and supporters whom we are truly fortunate to have.
It was a year of priceless moments: like when an Alumni student teared up after The Big Pitch because ‘no one had ever believed in me before’; when a student placed a Ziploc bag of coffee in my hands from her own plantation in Indonesia; a student sharing ‘Aidha gave her hope’ and ‘helped change her life’; when we visited an Alumnus in the shop she now proudly co-owns in Serangoon Road selling Sri Lankan products. In my conversations with students, as they recount their journeys from home to Singapore, to Aidha and beyond, I have not seen any trace of bitterness or self-pity, only a resolute determination to seize the opportunities put their way and a profound gratitude for their mentors who walked part of the journey with them.
Above all, it was a year of priceless people. There are too many to mention individually and the few highlighted here represent the spirit of generosity and warmth of everyone in our community: the young newlywed couple who donated $10K of their wedding ‘ang-pows’ to Aidha; the lady who had never heard of us before the Our Better World online campaign but afterwards donated $10K to our programmes; the volunteer who drove more than 100km around Singapore helping us to identify the best drink stops for the Bike Ride; and the volunteer who uses his vacation days to help us clean up our laptops so that they will be ready for Sunday classes. To each and every one of you a very big thank you for making this year our best yet – it simply would not have happened with your help and support.
Looking ahead in FY15-16, we continue on our exciting path of growth and expansion. Our goals include a robust increase in new student enrolment numbers, exploring other groups of low-income local women we can make our programme available to, undertaking a long overdue curriculum review, holding an even bigger graduation (in November) and preparing for next Tour d Singapore on 31 January 2016. More details to be revealed on 23 July at our A-listers evening!
Happy birthday, Aidha and many, many more to come!