ABLE celebrates its 10th anniversary

En-ABLE-ing with joy. Photo: ABLE Singapore

Abilities Beyond Limitations and Expectations (ABLE)’s 10th anniversary year has been an eventful one. With the outbreak of Covid-19, our mission to help those with disabilities to live dignified and independent lives remains important, perhaps now more than ever.

When the pandemic hit Singapore, we innovated quickly so that we could continue serving clients and caregivers via teleconferencing tools. We hope to continue innovating to broaden our reach to those who need our services.

Beginnings

Our story began in Sept 2009 when our founding Chairman, Mr Raymundo Yu, helped Caritas Singapore establish a charity serving persons with physical disabilities. This cause resonated deeply with Mr Yu and he recruited other like-minded individuals. ABLE was officially incorporated on Oct 25, 2010 and began operations as a member of Caritas Singapore. It obtained certification as an Institution of a Public Character on Nov 24, 2010.

Collaborative partnerships

As we didn’t have our own premises, we reached out to the community through collaborations with the Handicaps Welfare Association (HWA) and the Muscular Dystrophy Association Singapore (MDAS). Our maiden project with HWA was the Centre for the Physically Challenged (CPC), which ran from Dec 2010 to May 2015, and provided rehabilitation, training and Return-To-Work services. Then we ran Agape [email protected] from Mar 2013 to Sep 2017 to give caregivers the chance to energise and refresh themselves.

Launch of ABLE SEAS

As part of our Return-to-Work programme, a group of clients sat for professional accounting examinations to prepare them for a new career in bookkeeping. Accountants on our Board of Directors served as tutors, and four clients passed on their first try. However, it was difficult to find employers to hire persons with disabilities. From this challenge, ABLE Social Enterprise Accounting Services (ABLE SEAS) was born.

Today, ABLE SEAS offers professional bookkeeping and payroll services to small charities and businesses. Thus we are now able to provide our beneficiaries with sustainable employment in a productive and safe environment.

As Gladys Koh, 52, an account assistant, testified, “When I joined ABLE SEAS, I told myself, ‘Good, I’m not useless, I can still work.’ I really enjoy the work, and it makes me very satisfied. In people’s eyes, I may be disabled, but I’m still an able-bodied person and I’m still capable of doing a lot of things.”

Move to Agape Village

With the setting up of our own premises in late Oct 2015, we established our Rehabilitation & Training Centre, with the space and equipment necessary for physiotherapy, occupational and speech therapy services. Agape Village is also home to our Respite Centre, where family caregivers can rest and befriend other caregivers while their care recipients are engaged in activities such as music therapy.

We also continue to enable persons with mobility challenges by offering wheelchair-accessible transport at reasonable rates. Our distinctive blue and white vans are a familiar sight in the Agape Village lobby as they ferry clients to and from their rehabilitation or respite programmes.

The road ahead

Before Covid-19 arrived, we kicked off the year with a Lunar New Year celebration with partners, benefactors and volunteers on Feb 6, 2020, continuing our annual yusheng tradition at our centres. Guests took our ‘Disability Inclusion Pledge’ and wrote encouraging messages for family caregivers on our ‘Wall of Wishes’.

We had planned other large-scale events to commemorate our 10th anniversary with a bang. However, as the Covid-19 situation continues to limit traditional in-person forms of celebration, marking this milestone has become an exercise in gratitude and introspection for us. Finding other meaningful ways to celebrate, we have commissioned a music album entitled ‘From The Start’, in collaboration with local Catholic band Mystic Font and Friar Derrick Yap, OFM.

We are truly grateful for the invaluable support from clients, caregivers, benefactors, partners and volunteers, who have played a part in ABLE’s journey. The resilience found in clients and their family caregivers is a strength which our whole community should strive to build, as we band together to overcome the pandemic.

Contributed by Abilities Beyond Limitations and Expectations (ABLE). Find out more on our website!

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