Welfare Officer, Pertapis Children’s Home
The walls of Pertapis Children’s Home are adorned with bright and cheerful drawings painted by volunteers. These have been embellished with sketches, created by the young residents of the home who are mostly between seven and 12 years old. Abdul Halim, Welfare Officer at the home, describes his young charges fondly as “still children, but a bit more ‘spicy’.” While their feistiness may not be obvious at first glance, Halim shares that quite a few of them have exhibited violent tendencies even at their young age. Some have even been abused by their family members.
Besides facilitating the daily operations of the home, Halim also acts as a security guard, watching out for unauthorised persons, such as the media looking to interview the children, who may try to enter the premises. As these children often lack much-needed parental guidance and support, Halim doubles up as a big brother whom they can look up to. He is always there for them, seeing them six or seven times a week, eight hours a day. As a boy, Halim’s father was often not around, so he grew up with a father, but without a father figure. This experience in his formative years contributed to his passion for helping families, and is the reason he has a special place in his heart for the children in the home. This does not mean that he spoils them, however. In fact, when the situation calls for it, he disciplines them.
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Halim’s journey with Pertapis Children’s Home started when he undertook his National ITE Certificate (NITEC) course in Community Care and Social Services and was assigned to the home. Though he went on to serve in the Singapore Police Force as part of his National Service, he joined the home again after completing his DSS.
Despite having the relevant qualifications, Halim soon felt that he did not have sufficient knowledge to carry out his job to the fullest, as he was hampered by his limited experience in the field. He wanted to base his actions on more than just his gut feeling. “That was when I decided I should further my studies,” he says. With that, Halim took up the HDSS, which he is currently still pursuing. Already, he sees a big difference in his performance at work as a result from the training. He is now able to write more comprehensive reports, and is better aware of the ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ of basic counselling. In time, he hopes to obtain a degree in social work to become a full-time social worker and fulfil his dream.
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Thinking back, Halim still remembers clearly his last working day prior to his enlistment. He was in the prayer room with some of the boys, when they started hugging him and telling him not to leave them. It was a very touching moment. “Though we are not blood-related, at that moment, I felt the special bond that I share with the children and it’s a feeling no words can describe.”