In October 2016, Aidha pioneered its very first pilot programme with low-income Singaporean women in partnership with Casa Raudha. The Casa Raudha Women’s Home was founded in 2008 with the goal of providing temporary shelter for women victims of domestic violence and abuse. Capable of housing up to 50 women and children, the home also believes in empowering their residents to take control of their lives by providing them with the necessary skills to be self-sufficient.
Written by: Michelle Tan
A financial programme “My Dollars and Cents” was born out of this belief. Adapted from Aidha’s Compass Club syllabus, the programme consists of 3 sessions and lasts 2 hours per session. We spoke to Ms. Fatin Nadiah Mohd Nazren, Casa Raudha’s Programme Executive, as well as Ms Tina Hashim, the Aidha volunteer who spearheaded this programme alongside Aidha’s Programmes Manager, Ms. Marjanne van der Helm, to get their thoughts on how things are going so far.
A view of Casa Raudha’s Courtyard
Fatin said that 37 residents have participated since the programme started, with 17 in the current batch. “The programme syllabus covers the concepts of saving, tracking expenses, dealing with challenges, budgeting, and maintaining their habits in the future,” Fatin said. “I really think that participants have left the programme better able to manage their finances depending on their needs and priorities.”
However, every initiative has its challenges. When asked about them, Fatin said that they realized early on that scheduling the sessions only once a month (i.e. 3 months to complete 3 sessions) was not effective, as some residents were discharged before the programme ended. “This is why for the second cycle, we scheduled the sessions weekly. This allowed the participants to attend a larger portion of the programme, making it more effective,” she said. Tina Hashim, Aidha’s volunteer mentor, agrees that shortening each batch has made it easier for residents to complete the programme.
Having mentored at Aidha since 2014, she also noticed that the students at Casa Raudha differed from the ones at Aidha. “Aidha students voluntarily enrolled in the programme, whereas Casa Raudha residents have not. Motivation levels are quite different so it takes more effort to engage them during class. Usually I’ll try to get them to talk about their interests. This is very useful in getting them to open up!”
Tina Hashim, a long-time mentor at Aidha (2nd row, 5th from Right) with her students from Leadership club
Reflecting upon her experience so far, Tina said, “I’d like them (the students) to know that they are capable of so much more than they give themselves credit for. Even though it sounds cliché, with hard work and perseverance I believe they can achieve their goals and dreams.” Our survey results showed that the overall trend had an increase in financial literacy after taking the sessions and all of the students found the lessons to be helpful.
We would like to thank Casa Raudha and Fatin for continuing to champion financial literacy within their organization along with other important work that they do. And thank you Tina for making Aidha proud by being the first to volunteer for this programme!