Green rooms

11 Apr 5:50 AM

Indoor gardens take pride of place at several organisations, with both corporates and institutions bringing the community garden concept a step further. BT Weekend takes a walk in the park.

 Article extracted from http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/lifestyle/design/green-rooms

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Budding talent

FOR staff of the Metta Welfare Association, creating green spaces within its Simei building is not so much about aesthetics but a therapeutic activity to benefit both themselves and students of the Metta School.

“Our students with mild intellectual disability, special needs or autism enjoy growing things with their own hands and experiencing the joy of taking care of other living beings, instead of always having others take care of them,” says Ee Tiang Hwee, deputy executive director of the Buddhist charity organisation. “It is very good for developing their self esteem.”

Founded in 1992 by Venerable Shi Fa Zhao, abbot of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, the association’s six-storey building was opened in 2002 and has always been adorned with plants and greenery. Today, apart from housing its special education school, offices, art studio, cafe and retail store for vocational training, it boasts multiple green spaces – from an indoor garden located in an airwell of the building and butterfly garden that flanks the carpark, to a herb garden corner and offices filled with potted plants.

The school’s special needs students tend to the gardens and paint or create batik artworks featuring butterflies or blooms inspired by the plants that they see around them. Mr Ee would also pick up caterpillars from “host plants” – plants that attract the insects to lay eggs, and keep them in netted laundry baskets so students could observe the stages of metamorphosis before releasing the butterflies.

And it isn’t just the children who engage in gardening. Every Friday evening, staff members are encouraged to engage in recreational activities such as brisk walking or badminton. Around 20 staff would attend workshops on gardening or tend to the greenery. Mr Ee personally conducts workshops on various aspects of the pastime, from planting orchids to creating terrariums. In fact, most of the office cubicles resemble miniature gardens with pots of plants lining desks and shelves.

“My office is really a nursery,” reveals Mr Ee, who lovingly cultivates young plants, saplings and terrariums in his office before transferring them to the gardens when the plants are more developed. “I also like to give our guests of honour and VIPs a potted plant. They already have so many acrylic mementos from various organisations. So they will always remember us when they see my plant.”

From a tender age, Mr Ee would help his parents tend the garden in their Serangoon Gardens home. His mother was a fan of orchids while his father enjoyed the fruits from their own fruit trees – Mr Ee recalls climbing up jackfruit trees to retrieve the pungent-smelling fruit. He even sold cuttings of African violets to nurseries to earn extra pocket money as a pre-university student. Asked if he has green fingers, he remarks: “You don’t need to have green fingers. Even my plants die. It’s all trial and error.”

Among the plethora of plant species found at the Metta Building is a wide range of edibles, including fruits like pomelo, starfruit, rambutan, longan and jambu. Its Metta Cafe, which provides food and beverage vocational training for the school’s graduates, also harvests the produce from this mini farm – especially its curry and laksa leaves, and other fresh herbs. Mr Ee, who stashes a plastic bag in his pocket on his jogs, keeps a lookout for seeds which he collects. Through a Skype chat, he announces his newest acquisitions to Metta’s gardening group and passes them on to any takers. These budding gardeners also help themselves to soil and gardening tools kept in the pantry.

“There is no grand master plan,” admits Mr Ee, who recommends indoor gardening newbies start with growing money plants. “Sometimes I wonder if I am gardening or working here.”

By May Yip

Overseas CSR Project 2014: Values In Action @ Metta School Chiang Rai

Photography and article contributed by: Service Quality Department (Metta Welfare Association)

Metta Welfare Association (MWA) held it’s very first overseas Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project from 28th November to 4th December 2014. A total of 11 Metta’s staff, 11 Metta School teachers and two volunteers participated in this project aptly named as “Values In Action”. This project aims to give Metta School in Chiang Rai a refreshing face lift and a new computer lab.

Introduction

Metta School Chiang Rai is a privately-run supplementary school incepted in May 2008 as a means to provide supplementary Traditional Chinese education to children aged 6 to 16 years old, from local ethnic groups so that they would have the opportunity to advance in higher education for entry into Taiwanese universities. The school is located in the village Huaynamyen of the town Wawee. At 800 metres above sea level, it lies in the district, Mae Suai, in the western part of Chiang Rai Province, northern Thailand.

This CSR project was identified in June 2014 when a recce team consisting of Metta School’s (Singapore) Deputy Executive Director, Mr Ee Tiang Hwee and Service Quality team, Ms Ann Ng and Ms Jaslyn Chang, visited Metta School Chiang Rai. During the trip, we noticed that the classroom walls, pillars, ceiling, and podium were covered with stains, molds and peeling paint. The school had no painting maintenance carried out since it was incepted many years ago. Hence, a proposal was put forth for staff of Metta Welfare Association to help repaint the school as its CSR project.

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Two different groups departed Changi International Airport on 28th November 2014 and 29th November 2014 respectively. Upon arrival at Chiang Rai International Airport, we took a two-hour land transfer and arrived at our accommodation “Lao Lee Hill Resort”. The owner of this Resort was a friendly and hospitable lady. Every morning, the resort’s staff and owner would prepare our daily meals of breakfast and dinner. We had a variety of locally cooked dishes and fresh fruits.

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For our transportation between Metta School Chiang Rai and the Resort, we had fun riding in their local vehicle called the “Song Tiao” which is a cross between a taxi and a pickup truck. The traveling time from our Resort to Metta School took about 45 minutes. However, daily traveling on this “Song Tiao” was not an easy feat due to the winding roads, dust and huge pot holes on the road. Nonetheless, we all enjoyed each other’s company in the snug cabin of the vehicle.

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For three days, all 24 of us worked hard in painting the school. Painting commenced with the Teacher’s Block followed by Classroom Blocks. Each block consisted of five rooms. We shifted furniture, dusted, swept, painted and cleaned the rooms to the best of our abilities.

Many of us were first timers but this did not deter us in picking up paint brushes and rollers to paint with the rest. Those who were unsure followed and learnt from those who knew. Within a few minutes, we saw “painting teams” emerging as each one of us took the lead and responsibility in a particular painting task. There was great teamwork among all of us as we helped each other in whichever areas that needed extra hands.

A. Exterior Walls & Ceiling

B. Interior Walls & Ceiling

C. Toilet

 D. Doors, Windows & Door Frames

On the first day of the week, some of us finished up on the final touches of painting, while the others started cleaning the window grills, frames and dusting the walls.

Washing & Cleaning

We were very fortunate to be able to complete all the painting within three days due to extra helping hands from 23 Tes-Amm Thailand staffs who joined us. They were indeed an immense help as they painted the classrooms, exterior walls and the outdoor stage.

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By day end on 1st December 2014, we were all tired but happy and proud to present evidences of our hard work:

Outdoor Stage

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 Exterior Walls

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Toilets

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Classroom Interior

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Interior Walls

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Besides helping us with the painting work, Tes-Amm also sponsored the cost to revamp one empty room into a computer lab for the students. The new computer lab is fully functional with laptops, keyboards, monitors, projector and screen. Additional lighting were installed and some patching work was also done to the ceiling.

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After:

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A Token of Appreciation was presented to Mr. Luc Scholte van Mast, Managing Director of TES-AMM Thailand, by Mr Chuang Wan-Neng, principal of Metta School Chiang Rai. All Metta School students and teachers, Metta staff and Tes-Amm staff from Thailand came together for a group picture.

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The Project ended with a farewell party on the 3rd December 2014 where Metta students from Chiang Rai and Singapore put up various stage performances, dancing and singing for us. Under the moonlit starred night, everyone danced, clapped & joined in the performances.

Many exchanges and friendships were forged in that short span of three hours. It was indeed a night to remember! The party ended with gifts exchange among the students and souvenirs for everyone.

Our first Overseas CSR project was a success! We received many positive feedback and suggestions to organise another trip in 2015.

The organising team would like to express our heartfelt thanks and deep appreciation to all the 22 staffs and two volunteers who participated in this project. The project’s success is attributed to each and everyone’s effort, time and teamwork.

We look forward to the next 2015 overseas CSR project!

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Revamping To A Brand New Start

Without change, there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. And constant change is what drives Metta to continually upgrade itself for the betterment of its beneficiaries and the community.
The revamp of the new Metta Café is just one of the association’s latest moves in keeping up with the times.

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With its inception on 31 March 2014, Metta Café resides within the compound of Metta Welfare Association. Branding a fresher and brighter look from its predecessor, Happy Arts Café, Metta Café was refurbished to create employment opportunities for Metta School graduates aged 18 and above, with mild intellect disability and/ or autism by providing them with F&B vocational training. Metta Café’s mission is to provide an avenue for these youths to acquire vocational, work and life skills through its comprehensive training and development programs. This in turn, opens up employment opportunities for them to achieve economic independence, self-reliance and build confidence.

Metta School graduates with ITE Skill Certificate (ISC) who were not ready for open employment will be recruited as Metta Café apprentices. These apprentices’ skills will be further honed in a commercial setting which entails the development of their specific skill sets through on the job training.

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Metta Café’s specialty lies in the art of patisserie and baking. With careful and skilful yet creative piping dexterity, Metta Café trainees churn out professional-looking cream cakes that could rival commercial bakeries in upmarket establishments. Among the Café’s signature fares are its vegetarian eggless cake series and eggless mushroom pies.
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The mushrooms are braised in a delectable secret recipe cream sauce that makes you want to have more than just a pie after one bite. All of Metta Café’s pastries and cakes are baked every morning by the trainees to ensure quality and freshness of their produce.

Metta Café neophytic apprentice, Shirley Heng who now excels in the café’s tau sar piah confectionary range.

Metta Café neophytic apprentice, Shirley Heng who now excels in the café’s tau sar piah confectionary range.

Among the pool of apprentices is 23 year old Metta School graduate, Shirley Heng, who underwent the Food Preparation course in Metta School. The many years of food preparation skills taught has helped Shirley to cope in the real-life setting of Metta Café.

Every day is a progress that holds a new learning experience, according to the young trainee. But after several months at the Café, one of Shirley’s confectionary strengths lie in the entire process creation of the café’s tau sar piah, otherwise known as mung bean pastry.

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Of her vocation and experience at Metta Café, Shirley is elated to be working alongside the team of young trainees like herself, under the caring supervision of her trainer. In spite of the challenges that she has faced, Shirley has only one simple ambition: she hopes to be able to train new apprentices in future.

Helming the kitchen to the young trainees is 38 year old Pastry Chef cum Trainer, Ms Chye Hui Fun.

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With over 10 years of experience as a baker under her belt, Ms Chye is no stranger to the baking industry, having had worked previously in bakery establishments like Angie the Choice. Ms Chye trains Metta’s young apprentices with special needs in creating aesthetically pleasing cakes and pastries that taste as heavenly as they look. Being  a trainer at Metta Café is a fulfilling role for Ms Chye when she sees trainees under her guidance overcome their challenges to excel in their work.

Metta Café rotates its weekday daily lunch specials on a bi-weekly basis so that there would always be a new palate almost every day. Diners are spoilt for daily choice specials of the Asian Vegetarian Nasi Lemak, to the western non-vegetarian Fish and Chips. Among the Café’s popular item is the Vegetarian Hor Fun. No mock meat is used in the dish that is topped generously with mushrooms and green leafy vegetables and smothered in a smooth and savoury thick broth. Other must-try foods are Olive Fried Rice, Lontong, Prawn Noodle, Curry Chicken with Rice (Non-Veg) and the Roast Chicken with Fries (Non-Veg).

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Joining in the festive cheer, Metta Café also whips up seasonal confectionaries to match every major festive occasion, such as the delectable log cakes and gingerbread cookies for Christmas, pineapple tarts and various local cookies for Lunar New Year, and traditional baked and snowskin mooncakes for the Mid-Autumn’s festival, among others.

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Making up the bulk of the Café’s customer base are office workers from neighbouring business complexes and residents living around the vicinity of Metta Welfare Association.

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Apart from just having your meals and snacks at the Café, you may browse through the Café’s mini grocery section and pick up a whole range of hearty organic food stuff such as grains and oats, soya beancurd, brown rice, and low-fat granola bars, etc… to complement a healthy diet.

The prices of Metta Café’s food and beverages ranges from an affordable $1 to $9.90 . Prices of cakes are dependent on the size ordered.

Metta Café is open daily from 7am to 5pm, except on public holidays.

Baxter-Metta School Master Chef Competition 2014

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Baxter held its annual CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) activity for the 5th year with Metta on 8 November 2014. Aptly named the Master Chef 2014, the gastronomic competition saw over 50 Baxter staff and over 30 Metta School students teaming up for a grand competition that puts their culinary skills to the test. As with previous community engagements, the Master Chef competition aims to raise funds for Metta’s various welfare centres. This year, the competition will fund-raise for Metta Café.

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Two Metta School students aged 17 to 19 years old from the Food Preparation and Baking course, together with 3 other Baxter staff, formed a team of 5 participants to pit against 16 competing teams to clinch the prestigious title of Master Chef. Each team were given unique team names of values that encompass the beliefs of Metta and they are: Integrity, Compassion, Caring, Peace, Loyalty, Humble, Kindness, Happiness, Responsible, Victory, Openness, Honesty, Loving, Creativity, Respect and Joy.

Each competing team are segregated into 3 respective kitchens in Metta School.

Each competing team are segregated into 3 respective kitchens in Metta School. (Click to enlarge)

On top of walking away with the Master Chef title, teams are also given the chance to bag home other novelty prizes such as the Best Chef, the Motivated Chef and the Sexy Chef titles.

The CSR started with the Baxter committee joining a group of Metta Rehabilitation Centre for The Elderly clients for breakfast in the Metta Café VIP room. Some of the other Baxter staff adjourned to the Metta School bakery room for a cupcake decoration competition with our students as an ice breaking activity.

Careful piping skills from a Metta School student that  requires sheer concentration and dexterity.

Careful piping skills from a Metta School student that requires sheer concentration and dexterity.

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A student creating that finishing touch of sprinkling colourful jimmies to the cupcakes.

A student creating that finishing touch of sprinkling colourful jimmies to the cupcakes.

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A kaleidoscope of colourful cupcakes in a plethora of candy colours and creative designs.

It was truly an ice-breaking moment as Baxter staff and Metta School students took the opportunity to mingle with one another as they unleash their inner creativity for the competition. The fun session ended with a group shot of the participants posing with their pretty, candied cupcakes which were packed for all participants to be brought home.

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The proud sense of achievement from everyone’s hard work.

The proud sense of achievement from everyone’s hard work.

The much-anticipated Master Chef competition commenced shortly after. All competing participants adjourned to the kitchens within Metta School’s premise to fire up their stoves for the big match. The culinary criteria for the competition consist of 3 main categories which include a dish of carbohydrates, a meat protein and a vegetable-based dish.

And the competition starts NOW!

And the competition starts NOW!

A Baxter staff joins a Metta School student in chopping the raw ingredients required to create their master piece.

A Baxter staff joins a Metta School student in chopping the raw ingredients required to create their master piece.

The lone ranger. A Metta School student single-handedly took to the chopping board all by himself.

The lone ranger. A Metta School student single-handedly took to the chopping board all by himself.

The judging panel for the competition came from chefs of various restaurants. Chef Fok of Zi Yean Restaurant joins Chef Ah Chye and Chef Adrian from Huo Yow Cook’s Association in determining the champions of the competition.  The dishes prepared are judged based on their Taste, Creativity, Presentation, Team Building efforts and Hygiene.

Similar to reality TV cooking shows, our panel of judges moves around the kitchen’s workstation to check on food preparation and hygiene techniques of the contestants.

Similar to reality TV cooking shows, our panel of judges moves around the kitchen’s workstation to check on food preparation and hygiene techniques of the contestants.

The two-hour competition saw Baxter staff working hand-in-hand with our Metta School students to pit against one another for the grand prize.

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The competition ended near lunch time and every competing team had to stop their work and present their winning entries to the judges.

Be delighted by all 16 teams’ master pieces.

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Our panel of judges went around to every table to taste and evaluate the dishes presented by the participating teams.

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Chef Ah Chye dishing out a helpful advice on preparation of the vegetarian platter.

Chef Ah Chye dishing out a helpful advice on preparation of the vegetarian platter.

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And then it came down to the intense and stressful judges’ deliberation. The three judges had a hard time deciding on the champion and runner-ups as many of the competitors were equally good that day.

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To wrap up the event prior to lunch, Baxter presented Metta with a cheque of $50,800 in support of Metta Café to fund its training program for its Alumni youths.

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The event ended with a hearty lunch served with the contestants’ creations. Everyone had thorough fun with the eventful, exciting and challenging participation that morning.

CSR Batik Painting Activity with RSS Vigour

A group of staff from the Republic of Singapore Navy gets their first taste in attempting the skillful mastery of batik painting while being patiently coached by Metta’s talented Alumni youths with special needs.
Read on as I join in the fun to bring you the insights on the art of batik painting.

Contributed by Jasmine Ong
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39 staff from the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSS Vigour) came down to Metta on the morning of 25 November 2014 for a community engagement batik painting session. The batik painting workshop enables corporate volunteers to have a feel of the complexity and difficulty of handling the entire batik painting process; what’s more from our Alumni youths with special needs, trained in this skilful field for many years to become almost an expert in the art of batik painting despite their challenges.

The class is coached by our team of Alumni youths who are well-versed in the complicated art of batik painting

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Alumni youth, Jie Wei, demonstrating to the RSS Vigour staff on how to wax a batik painting.

Batik painting is a traditional Javanese folk art of decorating fabrics by the application of hot wax and permanent dyes to create creative patterns to an otherwise plain fabric canvas. It is a slow and tedious process that requires plenty of patience, a deft hand and extreme concentration to create a flawless masterpiece.

Introduction of our Alumni youth, Fadhil, who will be among the coaches for today’s CSR program.

Introduction of our Alumni youth, Fadhil, who will be among the coaches for today’s CSR program.

Sure looks easy peasy.

Sure looks easy peasy.

One of the “teachers” giving guidance and instructions.

One of the “teachers” giving guidance and instructions.

Intense concentration from the crew of RSS Vigour.

Intense concentration from the crew of RSS Vigour.

Alumni youth, Chee Meng, overseeing and ensuring that everyone’s waxing is properly outlined.

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What looked easy and simple wasn’t as simple as it appeared. Hence, I took the opportunity, together with a blank batik artwork, to try my hand at batik painting. The last time I ever touched on any batik craft was back in Primary 5 when we had waxing and tie-dying of random pieces of unwanted plain cloths in the Arts and Craft module. It was an easy feat back then, it must be an easier feat now, I thought to myself. Or so I thought.

I joined the horde of RSS Vigour in queuing up to eagerly dip our canting (pronounced as Chanting) into a pot of hot molten wax for outlining the pencilled marks on a plain cotton cloth fitted firmly over a rectangle wood frame.

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Fine little details such as the method to scoop the molten wax and wiping the base of the canting against the side walls of the wax pot needs to be observed to prevent excess wax stains on the art piece.

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Alumni youth, Qiqi, explaining to me the rationale behind applying a layer of wax for the outline to prevent colour paint seepage.

Alumni youth, Qiqi, explaining to me the rationale behind applying a layer of wax for the outline to prevent colour paint seepage.

I must have two left feet. My wax lines were uneven with blotchy wax patches on my canvas. So much for a self-confessed arts person. I guess I’ll have to re-examine my ‘flair’ for the arts after today.

My butterfly has got blotchy eyes, no thanks to me.

My butterfly has got blotchy eyes, no thanks to me.

On account of a colleague’s goodwill, Alumni staff, Ms Catherine Wong, teaching me all about the blending of colours and partially salvaging my badly coloured batik leaves with her timely intervention.

On account of a colleague’s goodwill, Alumni staff, Ms Catherine Wong, teaching me all about the blending of colours and partially salvaging my badly coloured batik leaves with her timely intervention.

As if my waxing wasn’t bad enough, my painting didn’t do me any justice either.

The other parts of my batik drawing didn’t fare any better. Ink blobs bled beyond the poorly waxed lines and leached into neighbouring segments of my butterfly design. Much as I tried my best to apply the ‘right’ amount of pressure, picking up the ‘right’ amount of water and paint, I just couldn’t seem to get the colours to retain within the waxy outlines. Looking on the bright side, I pride myself on being one of the fastest to complete half the painting when the rest were still barely starting. It certainly is no easy feat for RSS Vigour staff who are engineers by profession, to be attempting the task of an artist.

My artwork compared to the others. All is not over yet; I hope I can salvage the unpainted sections. Let’s cross our fingers!

My artwork compared to the others. All is not over yet; I hope I can salvage the unpainted sections. Let’s cross our fingers! 

On the other hand, the RSS Vigour staff next to me and some of his fellow colleagues did a very good job in controlling their wax lines and colour. Some were vivid with accurate colours such as this Tiger Butterfly design created by a RSS Vigour staff.

Heard of the Tiger Barb fish? Meet the Tigerfly.

Heard of the Tiger Barb fish? Meet the Tigerfly. 

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A striking butterfly that roams the Night Safari.

A striking butterfly that roams the Night Safari.

RSS Vigour staff, Hui, with his beautiful batik masterpiece. 

As quoted by a RSS Vigour staff, Hui, on his experience of the batik painting activity today,

“It is much challenging than I (had) expected. I never knew
it was that difficult to handle batik painting until today. But the overall experience was fun to say the least.”

And what’s further more for Metta’s Alumni youths who overcame their disabilities and self doubts through Metta’s Alumni’s cultivation of their individual strengths to emerge as talented young artists in their own right.

And finally here’s my truly forgettable batik piece. 

Through hands-on experience on batik painting, I have learnt a valuable lesson that morning:

1) The difficulty at such a ‘simple’ art work for an abled person like myself is easily attempted by the Alumni youths with special needs who face greater challenges in mastering the skill to near perfection. This shows that with strong determination and perseverance, nothing is impossible.

Nonetheless, it was a fun and memorable experience for all RSS Vigour crew and Alumni youths who equally enjoyed playing the roles of teachers in the morning’s activity.

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Sense of self-satisfaction achieved by all.

Sense of self-satisfaction achieved by all. 

If you like to explore a similar CSR art activity with us or if you have any enquiries, you may write in to: events@metta.org.sg

A boy named Jack*

Have you wonder the inner feelings of someone with autism? Why do they react different? Does helping them do their daily stuff help them?

Let’s take a moment to read, to learn how Jack* handles with his daily routines.


“I was always aware that I was different, that something was wrong with me. In kindergarten, I would stare out of the window or touch walls, oblivious to the people around me. I could barely speak, except for repeating, for example, MRT announcements – “for your own safety, please stand behind the yellow line”. When my mother took me to church, I could not tell her that the loud music and flashing lights made me feel sick (sensory overload), so I ended up hitting other children.

The autism diagnosis came at age six – too late for early intervention. My father refused to acknowledge my condition. He sometimes caned me until I cried so loudly that the neighbours could hear and my own wailing gave me sensory overload. My mother tried to protect me from the real world. Seeing me struggle to open food packets and tie my shoelaces (due to poor motor skills), she had the maid do everything for me, even though I did want to learn these tasks. There were many arguments between my parents, who eventually stopped talking to each other. I knew it was my fault.

At home, I was often alone, but with my books and computer by my side, I was never lonely. Encyclopedias shared fascinating facts about fish, stars and dinosaurs. Storybooks transported me to faraway worlds full of fantasy creatures or friendships between normal schoolchildren. The computer let me type out thoughts and introduced me to numerous puzzle games. I had fun fighting battles on chessboards and filling numbers on Sudoku grids. Exploring Control Panel, I figured out how to fix common software problems and tweak settings to make the computer faster. Once I could travel to the library alone, I constantly borrowed and devoured books about software development, puzzle games and other interesting topics.

Through these intellectual pursuits, I found order in chaos and meaning in my existence. In fact, I treated school examinations as puzzle games and they were the only enjoyable part of my mainstream primary education. During lessons, I could not concentrate, so I hid in the cupboard at the back of the classroom. When my classmates picked on me, I would throw books or chairs at them. They were glad that I could not aim properly! Physical Education lessons were pure torture. I was so bad at ball games that my classmates invented a new ball game – trying to injure me with the ball. I repeatedly failed my NAPFA test and repeatedly had to retake, to no avail. In my quest to develop social and life skills, I made many blunders. When announcements ended with “thank you”, I replied “you are welcome”. When my teachers told me to return my plates and utensils after eating, I threw them into dustbins.

One teacher made lessons come alive with interesting stories and activities. She ensured I was not left out. After lessons, she offered me guidance and encouragement. Finally, I felt that someone valued me. Inspired, I studied hard and did well for my PSLE, but secondary school would have its own challenges…”

Jack


*The writer does not want his real name to be published, thus he share his inner feelings with us under the pseudonym of Jack.

Keppel Offshore & Marine- Metta Charity Golf Tournament 2014

Photography and article contributed by: Migs C. Bravo-Dutt (Guest contributor)

Contrary to earlier predictions of rain and thunderstorms, July 4 turned out to be a relatively clear day – a perfect Friday afternoon for the 244 golfers who trooped to the panoramic Raffles Country Club for Metta’s 15th Annual Golf Tournament, with Keppel Offshore & Marine as the title sponsor for the sixth year in a row.

The Metta staff and volunteer team were at the club early that day to set up and prepare for the tournament in advance, such that everything was in place when the first participant arrived before mid-day: staff and volunteers were at several points to welcome the players who were then ushered to the registration counter. Metta personnel facilitated the registration, distribution of tournament kits, tagging of golf equipment, and helping ensure that the right bag went into the right buggy.

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At about 1 pm, players headed to their buggies, and excitedly waited for the first shotgun tee-off, which promptly came at 1 pm for Lake Course – 26 flights were assigned to this course, for a total of 104 players. The shotgun tee-off at Palm Course followed at 1:30 pm where 140 players joined the tournament, grouped into 36 flights. The players happily applauded upon hearing the shotgun tee-off, and immediately scooted away to their first hole thereafter.

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I volunteered to take photographs of the golfers at Palm Course, and for this I was stationed at Hole #1, beside a refreshment kiosk manned by a group of cheerful Metta Alumni youth –they would clap and get excited every time a buggy would approach, which happened every 10 minutes or so, and their enthusiasm never wavered throughout the afternoon. The students would eagerly hand out bottled water, apples, and brownies and muffins to the delight of the players. Some golfers jokingly requested for beer. At times, the weather indeed called for an ice-cold beer but the cheerfulness of the Metta team more than made up for the lack of it.

When I approached each batch of golfers for a group photo, the golfers would happily oblige, sauntering over to the designated “photo-booth” – the spot beside the tournament banner. Without prompting, the sporting golfers took care on not to cover the Guest of Honour’s photo on the banner, an indication that many looked up to Mr. Choo Chiau Beng-  Senior Advisor to Keppel.  The players were very cooperative, holding their smiles for as long as it took me to get my camera ready (even when I took a bit longer on a few occasions when I forgot to set my camera in advance). I did not really have a hard time capturing everyone nicely in the frame. Some golfers clowned around a little bit, adding to the fun of the photo session. It was an amusing time for me, seeing how excited the players were to pose for the camera –in turn, the snaps were immediately printed by the Metta team and were included in the souvenir items distributed to the participants later that evening.

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Once their group picture was taken, the golfers would set up their tee, and test their swings, before they would finally hit the ball. After every player had his/her turn, they would then hop back into their buggies and would be off to the next hole.

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The game ended at approximately 5 pm, giving time for the players to freshen up before dinner at the Stamford Suites. Dinner’s programme started with the welcome speech by Metta’s Deputy Executive Director, Mr. Ee Tiang Hwee; followed by wonderful performances from Metta School’s students. Three students in elaborate harlequin costumes performed one of the more challenging acts I’ve seen so far: walking on stilts while juggling at the same time! Another group of jolly children rendered a well-choreographed dance number in the spirit of the World Cup, which clearly engaged the diners.

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Another highlight of the dinner program was the announcement of the tournament winner. Golfer, Joseph Yapp came in as the overall champion, with a gross of 75. The much-awaited Lucky Draw, awarding wonderful baskets of gifts to the winners, followed this segment:

First Prize – Yilai Abalone Prosperous Box Set, $200 RISE F&B voucher, and a Complimentary flight for 4 at the Raffles Country Club worth $2,600 (Sponsored by Harvest Resource Supply (SG) Pte Ltd, MBS and RCC).
Winner: Juha Kuntola from ABB Pte. Ltd.

Second Prize – Yilai Abalone Prosperous Box Set and a $100 Dining voucher at Xin Cuisine Chinese Restaurant worth $2,000 (Sponsored by Harvest Resource Supply (SG) Pte Ltd).
Winner:  Chan Ka Heng from Univenture Technologies Pte. Ltd.

Third Prize – Samsung Galaxy S5 worth $1,068 (Sponsored by M1)
Winner:  Cheng Tian Hock.

More prizes were also given away, including Grand Hyatt dining vouchers, Tupperware hampers, $500 NTUC cash vouchers, Aerogaz electrical appliances, Mitsubishi fans, Honey hampers, among others.

While not everyone could go home with the top prizes, each participant received a goodie bag from our wonderful partners and generous donors/sponsors:

  •  Singapore Pools – Towels
  • Oh Guan Hing- Sesame oil
  • Gan Teck Kar – Organic Tea
  • Gan Teck Kar – 2 tubs of California Creamery Nacho Cheese Sauce
  • Gan Teck Kar – Granola bar
  • Chiropractic Clinic- Complimentary massage Tui Na vouchers

It was overall a productively fun Friday, albeit some golfers having to rush through dinner to catch an important World Cup match that night!

The Metta staff did an amazing job coordinating the daylong event seamlessly, from registration in the morning to awarding of prizes after dinner.

The fun and engaging tournament and dinner generated about $232,000 for Metta Charity. Clearly, it was another successful event and partnership for both Metta and Keppel teams as everyone was effectively a winner that night, having fun while helping with a great cause.

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Opening of Metta School V Café cum Eye Dotting Ceremony

Metta School opened its newly renovated V Café at the Metta School premises on 18 August 2014. The opening started off with an impressive dragon dance performance by the students of Metta School‘s Lion Dance Club and subsequently officiated by Venerable Shi Fa Zhao; first with the eye-dotting ceremony.

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The eye-dotting ceremony ‘opens’ up the eyes of the lion.

         The eye-dotting ceremony ‘opens’ up the eyes of the lion.

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     The dragon with its eyes burning brightly after the eye-dotting.

Another pair of lively lions awaited us at the V Café as they welcome of Venerable Shi Fa Zhao to perform the ribbon cutting ceremony.

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Venerable Shi Fa Zhao cutting the ribbon to the opening of the V Cafe.

Venerable Shi Fa Zhao cutting the ribbon to the opening of the V Café.

With the new V Café, our students from the ISC Hospitality & ISC Baking Practices class had the opportunity to practice their cooking, baking and customer relations skills at the cafe. Not just an ordinary school café, the V Café also incorporates the students’ competency from leadership skills, menu planning and budgeting know-how. At Metta, we believe that our students will survive in the working world with additional skill set earned through their experience and vocational training.

(Photo taken from Straits Times)

                                    (Photo taken from Straits Times)

The setting up of V Café was a real challenge to our teachers and students who had to present the concept to the school management for its approval. Their diligence paid off when the proposal was approved and the teachers and students immediately went about to materialize the dream with eager enthusiasm.

Securing the location for the V Café proved to be a second challenge. The small but cosy cafe setting was to have a conducive dining environment for the teachers and students to have their meals, chill and relax at the same time.

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One of the yummy platter spread prepared by Metta School’s students  from the ISC Hospitality & ISC Baking Practices class.

One of the yummy platter spread prepared by Metta School’s students
from the ISC Hospitality & ISC Baking Practices class.

Venerable Shi Fa Zhao’s appreciation speech for bringing  Metta School to new heights with the opening of the V Café.

Venerable Shi Fa Zhao’s appreciation speech for bringing
Metta School to new heights with the opening of the V Café.

A heartwarming moment as two Metta School’s vocational students  gave a Thank You speech to the guests.

A heartwarming moment as two Metta School’s vocational students
gave a Thank You speech to the guests.

Kudos to the 11 Metta School students of V4 who worked hard together as a team with their teachers to see the café to fusion.

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Mr Chairul Anwar, Trainer of F&B and Customer Service at Metta School  led the students from the ISC Hospitality & ISC Baking Practices class  in hospitality at the V Café.

Mr Chairul Anwar, Trainer of F&B and Customer Service at Metta School
led the students from the ISC Hospitality & ISC Baking Practices class
in hospitality at the V Café.

At Metta School, we believe in paying a good deed forward. As part of our social responsibility initiative and making the V Café project more worthwhile and meaningful, earnings from the V Café by the students were donated back to society.

Read more about our Batam CIP project here .

Metta School's Batam CIP project

                      Metta School’s Batam CIP project

On 15 to 17 March 2014, Metta School paid it forward by performing our values in action to an orphanage in Batam by utilizing the skills learnt. The students and teachers cleaned up the orphanage, cooked for them and organized fun and interactive games for the less privileged orphans. A little act of kindness does go a long way to bring about the smiles to the young children.

With the introduction of the V Café, more students can carry out what has been taught and learnt from Metta School’s ISC Hospitality & ISC Baking Practices course in a live setting. All this would not have been possible without the support of Metta School’s Principal, Madam So Kah Lay; Vice Principal, Mr Anuwar; Head of Department of Vocational Skills Training, Ms Yvonne; and Metta School teacher, Ms Selina Teo, in making the dream come true.

From left: Mr Chairul Anwar, Ms Yvonne and Ms Selina Teo.

       From left: Mr Chairul Anwar, Ms Yvonne and Ms Selina Teo.

Playing a Green Part for the Environment

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Metta Welfare Association is proud to be among the four chosen recipients out of 700 community gardens to attain the prestigious Environmental & Biodiversity Award in NParks’ Community in Bloom Awards 2014 .

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                                        Metta Welfare Association’s green team

For several years, our staff and clients have taken to actively participate in flourishing our community garden, attracting a kaleidoscope of living species from butterflies and birds, to micro-organisms and plant species variants. Our hard work has paid off this year when we are recognised by NParks to be one of the best environmental and bio diversified gardens in Singapore in their Community in Bloom programme.

An Olive-backed Sunbird baby spotted in our Metta garden.

                       An Olive-backed Sunbird baby spotted in our Metta garden.

A wasp that paid us a visit too.

                                                          A wasp that paid us a visit too.

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The new herbs we planted.

                                                       The new herbs we planted.

Metta Welfare Association’s Deputy Executive Directive, Mr. Ee Tiang Hwee, helming the green team.

Metta Welfare Association’s Deputy Executive Director, Mr. Ee Tiang Hwee, helming the green team.

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Introduced in May 2005, the Community in Bloom (CIB) programme was spearheaded by NParks to kick-start a contribution to a green and unique landscape of Singapore.

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The programme aims to create gardening communities within housing estates, educational institutions and organisations in Singapore by partnering various stakeholders including residents, government agencies, grassroots organisations, schools and organisations.

Apart from just being a green city, the CIB programme promotes community involvement in gardening by recognising the good efforts in creating and maintaining them. The community also encourages the interactive sharing of creative gardening ideas.

Today, NParks have more than 700 CIB gardens in Singapore.

 

CIB Award Judging Criteria

Judging Criteria

 a) Level of Community Involvement

  • Planning, setting up, maintaining and managing the garden.
  • Activities and events (gatherings, celebrations, talks, training, learning, outings, etc) related to the garden programme.
  • Support for the garden programme – Partnerships with other communities, resources, and strategies to sustain the garden.

 b) Garden Quality

  • Garden Design – General appearance (aesthetic), landscaping creativity / originality and practical use of garden layout.
  • Plants and Hard Landscape Elements – Use of ornamental plants, suitable plant selection, health of plants, state of soil and use of suitable hard landscape elements (paving, trellises, sculptures, retaining walls, lightings, pots etc).
  • Maintenance – Quality of up-keep and environmental safety.

 c) Environmental & Biodiversity Quality

  • Plant Variety – The number of different plants that increase biodiversity.
  • Reduce, Reuse & Recycle where possible to create a positive impact on the environment.
  • Habitat Creation – Creating a suitable environment to attract local fauna.

 The awards ceremony took place on 23 August 2014, Saturday at the Singapore Garden Festival held at Gardens by the Bay.

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Mr. Ee Tiang Hwee receiving the award at the Singapore Garden Festival.

          Mr. Ee Tiang Hwee receiving the award at the Singapore Garden Festival.

With this wonderful achievement as a strong motivation, we will no doubt continue to uphold our gardening efforts, high quality and standards to serve as a beacon and inspiration to other community gardeners in our neighbourhood and around Singapore.

For more photos of our bio-diverse flora and fauna, please visit our Metta Welfare Association Facebook.

Photography PVA @ the Zoo

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Article shared from Metta School blog (www.mettaschool.edu.sg). For more photos, please click at this link >> http://www.mettaschool.edu.sg/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=362:photography-pva-the-zoo-11th-june-2014

The photography club had the opportunity to visit the Singapore Zoological Gardens on the 11th June 2014 as part of the school’s Holiday Busy Programme. This activity was kindly sponsored by Canon Singapore who took care of all the planning and logistics at the zoo.

It was a bright and sunny day. Each child was paired up with a friendly volunteer from Canon and the students are tasked to search and take pictures of the animals listed on the activity worksheet.  Once they’ve completed their tasks, the students are to complete a http://www.animoto.com project back at school.

The activity at the zoo ended with lunch at KFC. The students mingled and took photos with their new friends from Canon. Everyone had a great and enjoyable time.

The students also managed to complete their http://www.animoto.com projects that very afternoon. They added captions or titles to each photo that they have taken. Finally, when they have completed, their works were showcased in front of the entire class.

The following are the web links of video by some of our students:

  1. Main
  2. Shi Yang
  3. Kiefer
  4. Afiq
  5. Al Khair
  6. Farid
  7. Hakim
  8. Khairul
  9. Wen Hao

I hope you will enjoy the above clips as much as the students have enjoyed creating them.

A special thanks to Mr Edwin Low for volunteering in this activity.

On behalf of Metta School Photography PVA and teachers (Mr Zahid, Ms Mi Li and Ms Ivy Yeo), we would like to thank Canon again for always keeping Metta School in your heart. Till next time…