CHCSA works with Beyond Social Services in an initiative called Babes, to address the issue of teenage pregnancy and the abandonment of newborn babies.
Contributed By Jeanette Soh
|PHOTO: Jeanette Soh
On Sep. 8, 10 volunteers from City Harvest Community Services Association and staff from Beyond Social Services gathered for an introductory session to mark the start of a collaboration between both organizations. Conducted by Jacinda Tan, program manager at BSS, the meet-and-greet session aimed to educate the volunteers and answer their questions about Babes, a crisis intervention program to support pregnant teenagers.
The session started with an icebreaker game for the volunteers and staff members from both organizations to get to know one another better. The group comprised a mixture of working professionals, students and mothers—all with a passion to help teenage girls facing issues with sex and pregnancy.
The session commenced with Tan sharing that the Babes program was launched in 2005 with the purpose of addressing the issue of the illegal abandonment of new born babies. Via an SMS crisis service hotline (+65 8111 3535), pregnant teens can have a non-threatening first-contact where they can seek and receive help. Workers at Babes aim to meet these girls face-to-face in order to establish a relationship where they can provide counseling and practical help. Babes ensures a safe environment for pregnant teenagers where they can make guided decisions regarding abortion, adoption or motherhood.
Tan emphasized that the main helping principle of Babes is to respect the client’s right to make decisions for her own life (with the exception of child abuse instances), even if these choices do not agree with the values of the volunteers. She also encouraged volunteers to reflect on their expectations when entering the program, asserting the importance of self-awareness. Being aware of one’s values and level of openness would ensure that both volunteers and clients can start off on a comfortable note and establish a good helping relationship.
Since its launch in 2005, Babes has counseled 250 to 300 teenage girls mostly between the ages of 16 to 17 years old, with the youngest client at 15. Most of them come from diverse family and socio-economic backgrounds. However, Tan noted that there has been a drop in the average number of abandoned babies from five in 2005 to three in 2009 since the launch of the program. “Although the numbers are small, every life is precious and saving one life is worth every effort,” Tan explained.
Stressing that every volunteer has something to give and share regardless of age or experience, Tan said, “Just helping the girls practically like accompanying them to the doctor, sharing with them experiences of motherhood or even lending a listening ear as a friend go a long way for these young girls.”
Said Tizane Koh, a senior social worker from CHCSA, “The training session has definitely increased my interest in helping these teenage girls.”
The evening proved to be a fruitful one and left volunteers thinking about their roles in helping clients in the future.
For more information, please log on to www.chcsa.org.sg or call +65 6835 9916.