13 May 2020

ADDRESS BY MS INDRANEE RAJAH, PRESIDENT, SINDA, AT THE 30th SINDA ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING WEBINAR, ON WEDNESDAY, 13 MAY 2020

 

Introduction

  1. I welcome everyone to SINDA’s first virtual Annual General Meeting. All of us are adapting to life in the time of Covid-19 and we very much appreciate you taking the time to navigate this platform to join us.

 

SINDA’s Performance in 2019

  1. I would like to begin by reporting on SINDA’s efforts in 2019.

 

  1. We have continued to improve on our outreach, with increased engagement and awareness.
     
    1. In 2019, 24,812 beneficiaries received assistance from SINDA – this is up 12% from the previous year. In 2018, our reach had actually increased 38% from 2017, so as you can see, we are improving year on year.
    2.  

    3. This increase was across all frontline programmes, including education, youth, family, community assistance and engagement efforts.4
    4.  

    5. The majority of the beneficiaries were from SINDA’s right target group – those with a family per capita income, or PCI of $1,000 and below, or students who were not performing well in school and required additional support.

     

  2. Many of them also benefitted from multiple SINDA programmes. This actually helped us to achieve two objectives:
     
    1. First, provision of multi-faceted support, as many of these individuals had varying needs and they required holistic support.
    2.  

    3. Second, we were also able to bring their family members into the SINDA fold and extend assistance to them as well.

     

  1. In this, we were supported by a strong ecosystem of partners, organisations, volunteers and well-wishers, including our IBR members – I would like to say a special word of appreciation to them; and everyone has played an important role in increasing awareness, collaborating on new projects, and helping us to extend our reach into the community.

 

  1. The theme of this year’s annual report: “Extending Our Reach; Impacting More Lives” reflects everyone’s collective efforts. You will see that there are many heart-warming stories in the annual report and these illustrate the depth of SINDA’s impact on the community.

 

SINDA’s Performance in 2019

  1. I would also like to update members on how the ongoing Covid-19 situation has affected our community, how it has impacted our work, and the steps that we have taken in response.

 

  1. Low-income households and those on welfare schemes are the most vulnerable and these are the ones have been the hardest hit. The number of requests for assistance increased from 109 in 2019 to 297 in the first five months of 2020 alone – that is an increase of 172%.

 

  1. SINDA’s normal face-to-face programmes and services also had to be temporarily halted because of safe distancing measures during the circuit breaker.

 

  1. For those in financial distress, we have redoubled our efforts to support the community, through increased financial funding for families and students and job referrals for the unemployed.

 

  1. For children at risk and those facing domestic issues, we have kept in touch and provided counselling and other interventions online or over the phone. In urgent or very high-risk cases, we have made house visits in line with the protocols allowed under safe distancing measures.

 

  1. As centralised tuition centres were ordered to be closed to prevent cross-infection from students from different schools, we have not been able to operate our STEP centres for the last two months. However, fortuitously, we had been exploring tuition using online platforms even before Covid-19 and the circuit breaker and we have been testing the content and delivery. Hence, when the STEP centres stopped, we were able to very quickly shift our tutorial programmes onto an online platform. Currently, all 3,500 students in STEP benefit from this e-learning and our tutors and staff have been regularly checking in on them. Based on feedback, our students and parents have been very thankful for this extra learning support from SINDA.

 

  1. When schools closed and MOE started Home-based Learning, or HBL, some SINDA beneficiaries did not have laptops or other electronic devices. We loaned laptops to about 300 students who were urgently in need of a computer, so that they could participate fully in HBL.

 

  1. These were the initial steps taken by SINDA to provide immediate assistance and respite to families and students most in need.

 

SINDA Community Support Package

  1. Next, I want to take you through what we plan to do, moving forward. We now plan to help a broader spectrum of families, over a longer period, and in a more sustainable manner for the rest of 2020.

 

  1. This morning, I announced the SINDA Community Support Package – a $1.8 million financial assistance package for our community, our families and our students.
     
    1. Through this, we will provide support to at least 3,000 Indian families – this would include not only families who are already within SINDA’s fold but also other vulnerable families who are not known to us, but known to our community partners.
    2.  

    3. This package provides increased financial support for essential needs and education expenses and it will supplement the government’s national-level, broad-based Covid-19 financial measures.
    4.  

    5. Those eligible for this package are households with a PCI of $1,000 and below, because this is the most vulnerable group. We also recognise that there will be some families above this PCI bracket who face difficulties. They can apply and we will assess their situations and extend assistance where appropriate.

     

  2. The package comprises three new schemes and it enhances two existing schemes. Let me start by highlighting the new schemes.

 

  1. First, the Resilience scheme.
     
    1. We will provide a one-time cash assistance of $300 to 1,600 households and this will total $480,000.
    2.  

    3. This scheme will support those who require a supplement to their income. The families that will benefit are mainly those enrolled in our education, youth and family initiatives

     

  2. Second, the Care scheme.
     
    1. This will provide a higher amount of financial assistance to over 400 families who are case-managed by the SINDA Family Service Centre. These are families with multiple challenges and they require deeper and more sustained assistance over a longer period.
    2.  

    3. They will receive financial help in three tranches from June to December, with between $300 to $600 disbursed in each tranche, depending on family size and circumstances.
    4.  

    5. A total of $540,000 will be distributed to these families.

     

  3. Thirdly, the SINDA Community Assistance Fund, or SCAF
     
    1. This scheme will benefit low-income families who approach our community, religious and grassroots partners for help, through a one-time $300 cash assistance.
    2.  

    3. This allows us to reach and help families previously unknown to SINDA through our community partners.
    4.  

    5. SCAF is a $300,000 scheme that will see active involvement from our community partners and many hands working together to help Indian families in need.

     

  4. Then, we have also enhanced our existing help programmes.

 

  1. SINDA bursary recipients will get an additional $50 a month over and above the existing bursary amount, for the rest of 2020.
     
    1. This will benefit around 1,000 primary, secondary and post-secondary recipients, including new applicants. Altogether, we will disburse $400,000

     

  2. We have also expanded existing financial relief programmes by an additional $100,000.
     
    1. For example, the SINDA Beacon Fund – which provides emergency interim financial assistance – will be expanded to help more families.
    2.  

    3. In addition, a portion of the SINDA Community Impact Fund – which was set up to fund ground-up solutions – will be reserved to support projects aimed at COVID-19-related assistance. This is to encourage a community-driven approach to helping our families.

     

  3. So, these are the broad strokes of the SINDA Community Support Package. It will provide additional, timely support to the community and help those in need to get through this difficult period.

 

Continued Support for the Community

  1. The SINDA Community Support Package is over and above an amount of $2 million that we had already earmarked for assistance in 2020, under our usual schemes. So, in total, $3.8 million will go towards supporting our community.

 

  1. As the Covid-19 situation is an evolving one, SINDA is monitoring the situation closely. Should the need arise, we are prepared to channel more resources to help the community.

 

  1. Down the line, we expect that existing programmes, such as the Back To School Festival, will see increased applications for financial support. Sufficient funds will be channelled into such programmes, so that SINDA support is provided to all who need it.

 

 

Conclusion

  1. These are extraordinary times but it is precisely in times like these that SINDA can make a difference to the community.

 

  1. So, I would like to call on us all to continue working together, to encourage and foster resilience within the Indian community and with others, so that together, we can emerge stronger.

 

  1. Thank you
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