Nisa and myself attended the Singapore Book club session at the Arts House on 14 Nov 08. We caught up with 2 distinctive local book writers. They have liking for children and enjoy writing stories for the young ones. Apparently, they are business partners and have set-up a company doing their own book writing, illustrating, photographing and surprisingly, even publishing and distributing. They spent time listening to us and provided their perspectives on the subject. We appreciate their sincere, warm attention and view this as an excellent opportunity to network with people who have relevant experience in this area. They were interested to collaborate with us in the project and would be submitting a proposal by 17 Nov 08. We will then discuss on how best we can further connect with them.
One of the writers was Stephanie Ho Lee-Ling. She is a former history teacher and museum educator who has completed a PhD in public history at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). In 2006, with the FTWIPI grant, she wrote and illustrated for her first children's book, Samsui Girl. Her second book featuring Amber - Wayang Girl has just been released. Stephanie is also the author of four stories for younger children based on the United Nations convention of the rights of the Child: The Boy with a Tree on His Head, The Shadow, The UGB and SHUSH! The books are published and distributed by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth & Sports. She is currently writing a reference book on the cultures and customs of Singapore and Malaysia.
Her partner, Jaime Koh has worked in the media and cultural heritage industry in Singapore, variously as a newspaper journalist, a magazine editor and an assistant curator in a history museum. Her work and interest in Asian history, culture and politics has taken her to China, Hong Kong, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Australia. Jaime is bilingual in English and Mandarin, speaks several dialects and is a keen photographer and writer. Jaime has been engaged in several research and editorial projects into the history of several institutions both in Singapore and Sydney. She was also the event photographer for several major events in Sydney. She is currently co-writing a book on the cultures and customs of Singapore and Malaysia.
We also spoke to R. Ramachandran, Executive Director of National Book Development Council of Singapore (NDBCS) for future friendly collaboration. Book project aside, he requested us to source for individuals who are interested to be story-tellers at the council. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Perhaps our student volunteers can consider it as a school holiday job to earn extra income and learning experience?
After a brainstorming session and inputs from key individuals, most of the volunteers propose to publish a book, featuring life stories of troubled children/youth instead. The issue on juvenile delinquency in our community is real and there is a pressing need for the community to address it. The creation of this book would be the team's effort to help the underpriviledged children. We hope to launch the book by June 09.
Here's an outline of the book project.
Book content: - 20 life stories of MWH children/youths - Unsung heroes - significant individuals who have helped these children/youths - Function of MWH – as catalyst of change
List of things to do:
A. Writing and Publishing · To speak to local book writers, editors, publishers for collaboration · To look for ppl who can design and suggest marketable book concept – invent MWH branding · To engage photographer/s, cartoonist · To identify ppl to ‘endorse’ book , advisor/s – e.g. President SR Nathan, ministers, etc · To decide on 20 cases of children to be featured. To get consent from these children and their parents/guardians · To identify outstanding ppl who have contributed to the Home in one way or the other · To gather information on MWH and its milestone · To get input from Juvenile/Family/Syariah Court, MCYS/Singapore Boys’/Girls’ Home, NCSS, NVPC, Prisons, Police, MENDAKI, schools, other social service agencies i.e. Gracehaven, Pertapis Children’s Home, FSC, As-Salamm, etc · To get input from MWH-MCYS-Juvenile Court Advisory Board members, Board of Visitors and Panel of Advisors
B. Marketing · To contact media for publicity as and when required · To promote books to schools, libraries, book stores, government agencies, family service centres, youth centres, community centres/grassroots, mosques, churches, etc. Need to identify ambassadors (can be volunteers/former residents/staff) to do outreach. · To start online sales, create impressive teens’ blog/site, link-up to MWH website. Web shd include book project initiative & process - to create awareness & encourage active volunteerism · To explore introducing the book beyond Singapore eg to sheltered/children’s Homes around the world
C. Fund-raising · To seek corporate sponsorship from Foundations, corporations/firms. Try to convince them to adopt the project. · To approach MCYS, NCSS, NYC, CDC, MUIS for funding · To engage tertiary students to do fund-raising projects e.g. produce VCDs on stories from the book, bookmarks, t-shirts, other collaterals for sale · To organise book launching charity event/dinner, tentatively in Jun 09. To source for event sponsors
D. Resource managing · To do book-keeping, maintain accurate recording of incoming/outgoing funds · To safe-keep funds · To work with internal/external auditor · To issue tax exemption receipts when needed · To disburse funds when necessary to key ppl organising events & meetings / handling volunteers’, former residents’ transport & meals allowance
Nisa, Deputy Superintendent of MWH has been working closely with me, to meet key individuals for ideas and suggestions on the book project. We appreciate the primary contribution by these individuals:
3 Oct 08 - Saripah, Senior Teacher Raffles Institution 7 Oct 08 - Sumarni, Section Head Temasek Polytechnic 10 Oct 08 - Shaik Mohd Iqbal, Producer / Editor Mediacorp 23 Oct 08 - Helmy, Head of Youth Engagement Startegic Unit MUIS 4 Nov 08 - Azmi, Head of Project (Community in Bloom) NParks 5 Nov 08 - Shahada, Librarian National Library Board
The first informal volunteers' gathering held on 24 Oct 08 was critical in deciding the direction and focus of project. It was interactive and attendees brainstormed for almost 3hours, eventually concluded with a fresh idea and concept of the book. Those present: 1.Shaik Mohd Iqbal 2.Tabrani 3.Hamzah 4.Juniper 5.Khairuddin 6.Ismail 7.Elaine 8.Sopiawati 9.Nisa (Thank you for arranging food & drinks) 10.Mardiana 11.Noraini 12.Ruhainah (Thank you for setting-up the meeting room) 13.Aishah 14.Foziah and 15.myself
I will keep in touch with the other volunteers who were unable to join us that day. Hope that they can be with us in future meetings.
Azeem has left Singapore for further studies in Nov 08 and thereafter work in UK for several years. Do continue to support our cause. We pray for your success.