It seemed like Christmas had came early for Aidha this year: a record 166 graduates, three super confident and polished Business Plan finalists who wowed everyone, and a completely unexpected award to top it all!
What did these three events have in common? They all showcased our extraordinary and inspiring students!
On the face of it, our students look like ordinary women, much like you and I. However, they are anything but that. Their courage, strength and resilience in the face of challenges that would test many of us is really quite extraordinary. For our graduates, completing 18 months of study – despite working six days a week and often more than 12-14 hours a day – was an enormous feat of patience and determination. Those of us who have done MBAs whilst holding a full-time job will know just how hard it can be to stay focused and motivated. But when your homework can only be done after midnight, and on your phone because you don’t have a laptop, that is when many of us would start to think ’this is simply impossible’. Yet, this is exactly what many of this year’s students had to do, in order to graduate.
Equally impressive were the eleven finalists of this year’s Business Plan competition. They were all racked by sleepless nights, and wildly fluttering butterflies before presenting to an external panel of judges, who were simply wowed by how well thought out their business plans were, and by their self-belief and passion. Presenting to a group of strangers is nerve-wracking enough, but when you have to do it in a language that is not your own, that takes some serious guts! If you didn’t attend our Graduation Ceremony this year, you will have missed three very impressive women who embodied the best of Aidha – they were professional, confident and charming, and left you in no doubt that they had it well within themselves to succeed in anything they chose to do.
This month also brought the good news that Aidha had received the AWARE Award 2015 for Financial Empowerment: NGO Initiative! The distinguished panel of judges included Singapore’s Ambassador-at-Large, Professor Tommy Koh, former AWARE President and the Singapore’s first female Nominated Member of Parliament, Kanwaljit Soin, and poet and playwright Eleanor Wong, who is also Associate Professor of Law at NUS. The judges, we were told, were unanimous in their decision to select Aidha.
This award is for the many people whose hard work, dedication and generosity of spirit have brought Aidha to where it is today. But above all, it is for the over 2,800 foreign domestic worker students who have walked through the doors of Aidha since we started nine years ago. These extraordinary women seized the small opportunity that was provided to them to build brighter futures for themselves and their children. They inspire us to keep going because we can see that even the tiniest of opportunities can really be life-changing.