|PHOTO: Gay Sen Min|
The Empowering Single Parents Network (ESPN) held a special luncheon for 40 single parents on 12 September 2009. This is ESPN’s second gathering since its inception in June 2009.
Special guest speaker, Susan Ong, a Senior Financial Consultant with AIA, was invited to give a talk on ‘Four Keys Toward Achieving Success’ in a single parent household. In her talk, Ong also addressed common issues faced by most single parents, such as, self pity, shame and stigmatism from being a divorcee. Many of the participants could identify with what was shared, and were seen engaging in heartfelt discussion during the luncheon.
“After experiencing the breakdown of my marriage some five years ago, I have carried the pain in my heart since then. But like what the speaker said today, it’s time for me to put aside my heartache and move on to live a full life for myself and my son,” said Kelly Chua, a single mother with a seven-year old son. Another single parent, Andree Lim who has a 10-year old daughter, attended ESPN for the first time. “This is really helpful, to find friends with whom I can share my thoughts and feelings freely. This is a good place to build friendship and support in life,” said Lim. “I’m looking forward to the next event organized by ESPN.”
The youngest among the group was Joel Ong. At 23 years old, he is a father of a two-year old son and is facing an impending divorce. As he had not been connected with the Christian community for some years now, he commented that the ESPN was good as he ‘felt the presence of God’. After the session, Joel was introduced to one of the ESPN volunteers where he got to learn more on being a single parent and practical advice on some of the divorce procedures in Singapore.
Last year, Singapore recorded a total of 24,596 marriages with a total of 7,220 of them falling apart. That figure translates to one out of every four marriages in Singapore ending in divorces and annulments. With this growing trend of divorces and annulment, these figures look set to climb higher.
The statistics show a pressing need to build a supportive environment for parents and children from these broken marriages. Hence, the ESPN is a quarterly gathering that aims to bring single parents together in a supportive environment where they could share and be empowered to nurture their children with love and wisdom.