A fresh red shirt, heavy camera gears and the blazing sun – that was my first encounter with Hagar. Hello! I’m Kelda, a fresh graduate from Murdoch University who pursued Bachelors in Arts (Psychology and Communications and Media Studies). My journey with Hagar started as a volunteer photographer and I was later blessed with an unexpected opportunity to intern with the organisation for eight months.
As a communications and marketing intern, I was challenged to put into practice all the theories that I had learnt in school. The work that I was tasked with seemed daunting as I was not very competent in graphic designing and struggled with writing well. Unfazed, I sought to improve and spent many late nights learning through web training and self coaching. Coupled with the constant motivation and guidance from my bosses, there was progress in my quality of work and I am glad to say that hard work does indeed pay off. Today, I am pleased to be able to use my skills to share the work that Hagar does with others.
In the course of my internship, I had the opportunity to take photos of the clients whom Hagar assists through the trauma recovery programme. The programme aims to provide healing to girls who are trafficked into Singapore and subjected to labour and sexual exploitation. During their stay in Singapore, Hagar assists them by providing them legal protection, trauma recovery, education and vocational training and also subsequently looks into safe reintegration to ensure a smooth transition back to their home country. Looking through the lens of my camera, the biggest challenge was in ensuring the confidentiality of the client and preserving their dignity in the way the stories of their lives are unfolded. As the photographer, I began looking for new angles to capture their emotions and to share their dreams and hopes with others who may not have the privilege that I have to be able to get up close with them.
Hagar’s core expertise is in the area of trauma recovery and this area of work is supervised by the Head of Programmes – Wei Chern. Through her, I got to learn about social work and began to understand how it helps the girls in their recovery. I would also get a chance to be a part of this by being a befriender. We all need a support network of friends who are always around for us when we need a listening ear or a pal to hang out with. Likewise, these girls also need people whom they can share their thoughts with. Through befriending, I got to know them better, and they became more than just clients – they became my friends and they, too, saw me as their friend. Concepts that I had learnt in school began to come to light as I could now put them into practice through my engagements with the girls. It also helped me to gain a better appreciation of my lifestyle and to remember that they are no different from me – they have dreams and aspirations, which they too want to fulfill.
I’m blessed to be able to spend eight fruitful months in this organisation whose work is making a positive impact in the lives of women and children who are exploited. It is truly a meaningful experience to have been a part of and has also got me to realising my passion to become a social worker. I’m thankful for all the guidance of Michael (Executive Director of Hagar Singapore), Wei Chern (Head of Programmes) and most importantly my supervisor, Lynette (Head of Communications and Marketing) who have all moulded me into becoming a better version of myself.
The end of my internship journey affirms that this is just the beginning of doing so much more for Hagar and I will do ‘Whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to restore a broken life’. You too can play a part in changing someone’s life. Join me and other passionate volunteers in making a difference today. Find out about the internship opportunities that are available.