Here we are again at the end of one year and the start of another! It’s amazing how time flies at Aidha! We have had another action-packed year and look forward to an exciting year ahead as well.
July and August was a time for change at Aidha. As many of you know I came on board earlier this month and Aidha said a fond farewell to Karen Fernandez, who generously continues to provide behind the scenes advice, and also to our Volunteer and HR Manager, Sharda Vishwanathan. They will both be deeply missed from daily life at Aidha. There are also fond departures this summer for a number of stalwart volunteers and alumni and we thank them all for their tremendous contributions, wish them all the best for the journey ahead, and they remain, of course, lifetime members of the Aidha family!
We also have some movement within the team, and starting in September, Supreetha Skanda Moorthy, will assume the Volunteer and HR Manager role, Roland Yap, who joined Aidha in July (welcome Roland!), will move from a part-time to a full-time role as Campus Manager, and Marjanne van der Helm will gradually move away from her Student Affairs Manager role to become our new Programmes Manager.
The heartwarming story of Wiwik Sunariyah (this month’s featured student) is the real reason why we all do what we do at Aidha. Wiwik arrived in Singapore 15 years ago to an unknown future, buoyed only the belief that things could not be any worse here than the dire situation she had left behind at home in Indonesia; yet today she has a plan for her future and savings to help her to get there. After years of hard work and determination, undertaking Aidha’s financial literacy programme, and with support from her employers, Wiwik has now bought land in her hometown. In a few years’ time, a new home for her family will sit on this land together with her very own nasi padang restaurant – a cherished dream that has kept her going all this time.
This is the very real difference that each and every one of you – our volunteers, supporters and donors – makes in the lives of our students.
It is the 170 cyclists who recently participated in our Aidha Tour de Singapore Bike Ride at the unearthly hour of 5:30am to cycle through Singapore to help raise funds for our programmes. It is the small but dedicated project team of volunteers who prepped for months to get every tiny logistical detail as perfect as they could for the Bike Ride. It is the scores of volunteers, students and staff who, on that still-dark Sunday morning, lugged heavy cartons of water, oranges and bananas from the car park to the start line, decorated the start/finish line with balloons and banners, and who baked trays of food for the hungry bikers and guests to have at the finish-line. There was no mistaking the passion and big-heartedness of everyone at the Bike Ride which drove this event which will eventually help even more students like Wiwik.
It is volunteer extraordinaire, Selina McCole, who powered on through six long days of 50°C desert heat, searing thirst, blistered feet and unappetising powdered food in the Marathon de Sables, dubbed ‘the toughest foot race in the world,’ simply to raise funds for Aidha so more women can benefit from our programmes.
April has been a very inspiring month, both because our students continue to seize the opportunities provided to them and do achieve their dreams to break out of the poverty cycle for themselves and their families, and because of every one of you who continue to make those opportunities possible.
An enormous and heartfelt thank you to you all.
March saw us all in full Bike Ride prep mode: plotting out the 50k and 100k routes, applying for police permits for the agreed cycle routes, arranging insurance and buying first aid kits, exploring unknown parts of Pasir Panjang for T-shirt making warehouses, getting the flag-making ‘factory’ in full swing for the cheer teams lining the routes, deciding on the number of bananas at the drink stops to keep our hot, thirsty bikers hydrated and cramp-free, badgering (oops, I mean persuading!) sponsors for goody bag gifts, and signing up just about everyone who happened to cross our path as a volunteer for one task or another!
‘Empowering Big Dreams and Bold Moves’ sounds like a perfect tagline for Aidha. Actually, it articulates the mission of the Bold is Beautiful Project, the signature philanthropy campaign of Benefit Cosmetics, which will be launched in Asia in May for the first time, with Aidha being one of the selected charities! Read more about the project and the bold, brave, beautiful women we have plenty in Aidha!