From private to non-profit sector
In 2008, when Christabelle’s friend asked her to help find someone to undertake administrative duties at a non-profit organization, she responded to the job opening herself.
Attracted by reasonable annual leave entitlement and other benefits, she left her previous sales administrative job in the private sector and joined Christian Outreach to the Handicapped (COH) as an administrative executive.
She had no real idea what services COH provided and said, “I did not know of Voluntary Welfare Organizations (VWOs) like COH which serve persons with disabilities. As time passed, through personal interaction with them and learning from colleagues, I now understand more about autism and Down’s syndrome.”
Christabelle enjoys her work and is now attending night class to pursue a human resource degree in a private school.
A working day’s highlight
The administrative executive’s work is primarily desk-bound. Unlike COH caregivers, Christabelle has fewer opportunities to mingle directly with COH clients. Nevertheless, she leaves her desk at times to say “hello” or to talk to them. It is the highlight of her day!
“They are a very warm group of people. When they look moody, I stop to talk to them. A little attention is all they need to brighten their day. They show their appreciation readily and I’ll never forget the way they hug me and won’t let go! Chatting and joking with them certainly helps me relieve stress from all the paper work I have to handle,” Christabelle says laughingly.
Little things count
Ian, a COH client who is 58, loves to collect stamps and since Christabelle receives plenty of mail, she saves the stamps and gives him a few at a time.
“If nobody cares for them, who will?” Christabelle says. “They are a very frank, simple and sweet group of friends. I was initially afraid of them because I did not know much about them. However, over time, I’ve learnt that they mean no harm.”
Intrigued by psychology and behavioural patterns
Intrigued by what goes on in the minds of the clients, Christabelle hopes to have the chance to study about human psychology and behavioural habits.
“I have a strong desire to peer into their inner world so that I am able to understand what makes them tick and react the way they do. With a loving heart, anyone can appreciate the COH clients. They know how to love and care for their friends. Those who appear unhappy, get a gentle pat or a big hug that literally takes their breath away! On outings, they hold on to their partner’s hand and even remind each other not to leave personal belongings behind!”
Giving others and herself a chance
The 47-year-old who lives with her elderly mother and niece, plays the keyboard and sings in a choir. She enjoys watching cooking programmes and has learnt to make her favourite ondeh-ondeh kueh during leisurely weekends.
Having worked at COH for six years, Christabelle has become a more empathetic person who sees things from a new perspective. She realizes that when people behave in a certain way, there are always underlying reasons. She is now able to focus on solutions rather than get bogged down by the problems themselves.
“I am glad I took this job to get to know people with special needs. I truly admire the selfless caregivers who lovingly care and willingly go for training to serve in organizations like COH. They do all the good work in order to help those with disabilities.
About the Author: The COH Resource Team comprises volunteers, content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals.