As Singapore strives to be a more inclusive society, much has been done to ensure children with intellectual disabilities are given appropriate education and early intervention. As these children become young adults, the higher-functioning ones are being identified and given proper vocational training and support for open employment. Unfortunately, very few facilities and openings are in store for the many who fall through the cracks and are unable to hold a job in the open market. Many in the latter years of their adulthood are kept at home with their aged parents as their only companions.
Mamre Oaks aims to reach out to this population which seems to be hidden and neglected. We aim to serve adults aged 16 and above with moderate intellectual disabilities and are currently not engaged in any services provided by MINDS, APSN, Metta and other existing SSAs.
The biblical story of Abraham welcoming the three strangers to his home is one that is held closely to the heart of Mamre Oaks. Like the story, Mamre Oaks strives to be a place of nourishment to our guests by providing sustenance so they may have the strength to continue on their journey. We also aim to be a place of hospitality through acceptance and building of relational ties with our special needs friends and their caregivers. In mission, we hope that all who come our way will be able to call Mamre Oaks their home, but that is not always the case. Every farewell is difficult which is why when a member is accepted into the Mamre Oaks family, he/she is celebrated and warmly welcomed into our community.
I am reminded of Ian’s (not his real name) first day at Mamre Oaks. On his first day, he resisted any interactions and hardly looked at anyone. He refused to step into our centre and only showed interest in the library outside our centre. Every day, he would sit by the library, quietly flipping through the books. During lunch he would refuse to sit with us, preferring to sit alone at one corner. We wondered then, if he would one day be able to join us for group activities and open up to the rest of us.
Today, Ian takes great pride in being our centre’s librarian. Every day, he looks forward to spending some time at the library, tidying and “scanning” the books. He is known to be very helpful, often very willing to help push his friends on wheelchairs and carry his friends’ belongings when it is time for their dismissal. Once, I was moving heavy boxes and without hesitation, he stood up and helped to move the boxes with me. It was a big gesture coming from Ian because he is usually nonchalant towards the things happening around him, often engrossed in his own activity. Ian also has a great sense of humour! Although we have yet to hear Ian speak in our centre, he often does things (like a funny remark or gesture) that make us all crack up in roaring laughter.
It has been a year since Ian first joined us and he has opened up considerably. As he developed relational ties with the people around him, he showed his emotional capacity to show care to his friends and bring joy to those around him.
Nina (not her real name) first joined us early this year. When she first arrived, we were not sure how best to support her. She came to us after her previous service was found unsuitable for her. In our centre, she refused to participate in activities and would push us away when we attempt to engage her in an activity. And boy, was she the happiest when it’s time to go home! She would smile brightly and wave goodbye to us, eager to leave our centre.
One morning while waiting for some of our members, I saw Nina entering the building with her caregiver. This time, she was eager to leave her caregiver behind and was running towards our centre. It was a different sight as compared to her first week and it was encouraging to see Nina excited to attend our centre.
It has been almost 6 months since Nina first joined us and she still smiles happily when it’s time to go home. Fortunately, those were not the only times we got to see her smile in our centre. She started becoming more participative in our activities, showing her abilities to do some table tasks. Like Ian, she has a cheeky nature too! Once she burst out in laughter after throwing the “slime” in the air and accidentally causing it land on her friend’s shoulders (much to her friend’s horror!).
It is truly a blessing to be able to journey this closely with our members, to develop a deeper understanding of them through our time spent together. It is a joy when we first discover a member’s talent or when we hear their laughter for the first time (Ian has such a hearty and contagious laughter!). It is also a learning experience when we discover what upset them and how they express their emotions. When they express anger or frustration, it often calls for a need to be more sensitive and empathetic towards them.
As Jean Vanier puts it, “Every child, every person needs to know that they are a source of joy; every child, every person, needs to be celebrated. Only when all of our weaknesses are accepted as part of our humanity can our negative, broken self-images be transformed.”
We all need a community much like what Jean Vanier mentioned where we feel accepted for our weaknesses and celebrated for our strengths. Our community exists not only for our members but for us, too. It is through the relational ties amongst the members, volunteers and staff that this unique community of Mamre Oaks is formed
<> All adults with intellectual disabilities currently not attending special school / sheltered workshop / day activities centre / open employment.
<> Aged 16 years and above.
<> Independent in mobility and daily living skills, for example, in toileting, feeding and personal grooming. (Female trainees need to be able to manage their menstruation)
<> No habits of leaving without permission or running away.
<> No tendencies towards aggressive, destructive or injurous behavior.
<> The member must be in remission if they suffer from any mental illness.
<> Transport maybe provided, subject to availability and other conditions. Applicable only to non-independent travellers.
We will be re-locating to a new place in East Coast by the end of 2020 or beginning of 2021, more details will be updated in the later stage.
For further enquiries, please email [email protected] or call +65 6801 7475 or +65 6801 7476.
All applicant are to download the forms, duly complete, scanned and email to us. Thereafter submit the hardcopy forms during the first interview. If caregiver do not have email, please send by post to:
Mamre Oaks Ltd
7A, Lorong 8 Toa-Payoh,
#04-01, Singapore 319264