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“Precious Gems 19″ – Gaining early traction
01 December 2017

It has been many years since I left junior college and I was quite excited and happy to come back to my alma mater with HCA, as part of the Social Service Fair the junior college had organised.

Most places within the college were still quite familiar to me even though they had added some new facilities. I found my way to the school hall easily and tucked away at the far corner was where our team was setting up our booth, together with 15 other social services organisations. Perhaps I was biased, but I felt that our team did a better job by adding an extra white board to make our booth more visible.

When the students started streaming in, initially quite a few were attracted to our booth. But as they neared and saw that we were a hospice, I heard quite a few say “Eee, this one’s a hospice, very sad one. Let’s not go there!” and they walked away. I was a bit disappointed, when I saw them turn away.

Thankfully, my disappointment was short-lived as our young Care Givers (yCG) team and two other facilitators were on hand to correct the situation. They reached out to the students, pulled them in and explained gently to them what HCA is all about. Each guest to our booth was requested to write notes of encouragement to our patients on the multi-coloured stickers we had provided. Within a short time, our corner was soon filled with many students and representatives from the other organisations. I daresay we were the most crowded booth in the hall! I joined in to attract these young men and women to our booth and explained to them what we do and how they can make a difference in the social services sector. Our whiteboard was quickly filled with coloured stickers, each one written with a sincere wish for our patients.

Some representatives from the other organisations approached me and asked if we could collaborate by sending our yCG trained students to their nursing and old folks homes. I was very happy to receive these requests as this would allow our “trained” students to put into practice what they had learned during yCG – to empathise with the elderly and elderly sick.

I met the college principal later and she invited me to come back another day, to share with the students how and why an “old” school girl like myself was willing to work in the social services sector. I gladly accepted her request.

I am glad that we have the yCG program at HCA. We are certainly on the right track as we work to inculcate in all our girls and boys – from a young age – the value of respect and the importance of looking after the elderly sick. I am grateful that we have a dedicated yCG team and also volunteer facilitators who are passionate about our cause. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to talk about dying, to explain that death is a part of life to these young and impressionable students. I think many went away understanding better, more informed and less afraid. We must keep this pioneering effort going!