A member of the Singaporean team teaching art and craft

Catholics from two parishes taught underprivileged Indonesian children cooking, art and craft and jewellery-making skills recently.

The group, comprising mainly parishioners of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour and Holy Family Churches, visited the Mount Hope Training Centre training centre in West Kalimantan from March 17-19.

The centre, started by Christians from various parts of Indonesia in 1998, houses a school and several children’s homes catering to 130 kids. The centre also includes a bakery, fish farms, and fruit and vegetable plots to help the community achieve self-sufficiency. .

During this outreach, the 13 Singaporean volunteers, including two non-Catholics, taught skills such as cooking, art and craft, jewellery-making, music, and dancing.

Ultimately, the children in Mount Hope have to support themselves, said Mr Bernard Low, a Catholic. “We teach them how to ‘fish’ rather than fish for them.”

One volunteer taught the children how to use leftover bread or bread more than a day old to make bread pudding.

Another volunteer, Ms Agnes Seow, taught them how to use beads to make jewellery. The children were “eager, excited and willing to learn”, she said, and added that she hopes they would make use of their newly acquired skills to earn some money for themselves.

The volunteers, who are mostly from the St Vincent de Paul society of Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, also brought gifts such as second-hand clothes, small amounts of money for the children, beads for making jewellery, seeds and thermal flasks.

Mr Low points out that more help is needed for the community, such as people who can teach skills like sewing, and the provision of fertilisers and sewing machines.

Ms Seow, who was on her first mission trip, said it was a humbling experience to work with the poor. Mr Low said he was happy to see the joy on the children’s faces. “You feel you’ve done something for God,” he said.

By Darren Boon
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