Voices That Care

Say Hello to ... Samita

Every single person in Care2Run’s ecosystem is essential, and we’ve grown so much in three years thanks to all the different individuals who’ve played a part in getting us to where we are.

It is for this reason that we aim to hand this section over to our people – our participants, coaches, volunteers, parents, friends and loved ones – so they can tell you what Care2Run means to them.

This week we say hello to ….. Samita, a lecturer and counsellor who says she gained a deeper appreciation of the challenges faced by differently-abled persons after becoming a Care2Run mentor.

THERE were many times, because of my work commitments and because I’m also pregnant and currently working on my PhD, that I was worried if I’d be able to make it for the sessions,” volunteer mentor Samita admits.

“However, I knew that if I missed a session, it would be hard for my mentee and me to work well together. I also wanted to make my mentee feel that I’d been present for me. So no matter how tired I was, I made sure I attended every week.”

Samita’s dedication and perfect attendance paid off too, as she and 15-year-old Tricia look to have formed a genuine bond that’s allowed both mentor and mentee to grow over the course of the Care2Run Foundation Programme. The mum-to-be has also nurtured Tricia’s creativity and helped her express herself.

“I don’t know how much my mentee has learned from me, to be honest, but I’ve learned a lot from her,” the psychology lecturer and counsellor says. “And I feel I’ve definitely grown.”

Hello, Samita. Could you share with us how you found out about Care2Run?

Hi! My husband’s niece, Hareny, was an intern with Care2Run. She’s the one who told me about the organisation and asked if I’d like to be a volunteer as she knows my passion when it comes to volunteering. In my work as a counsellor, I’ve been approached many times by parents to engage and work with their differently-abled children. However, because it’s not a field I am well-versed in, I often have to refer them to other counsellors. When this opportunity came along, though, I thought it was a perfect chance for me to give back to society and also to learn about the challenges differently-abled young persons face.

Considering what you shared, do you feel that the volunteer training programme – which all Care2Run volunteers are required to undergo – helps in shedding light on the challenges differently-abled persons face? 
Definitely. But the training is only one part of it. There’s also the one-on-one nature of Care2Run’s approach which allows one to appreciate that not every differently-abled child is alike.

You shared that you feel you’ve learnt a lot from your mentee. In what way would you say you’ve grown?
The main thing I learnt was to be patient. My mentee can sometimes lose focus and so, I had to learn how to engage with her with a lot of patience. She also sometimes had trouble remembering certain instructions, despite the constant repetition. It can be quite challenging to mentor a differently-abled individual. I grew up in an environment, where once you’re told something, you are expected to adhere and be as responsive as possible. Working with Tricia has made me to realise that you can’t have similar levels of expectation for everyone based on one’s convenience. It’s thought me to have more empathy.

That’s awesome, Samita. Are there any special moments that stand out for you from the three-odd months you’ve been involved in the programme? 
One of the things that was very special to me was my mentee remembering my name. During the first session, I introduced myself as “Samita” but because Tricia appeared to have trouble pronouncing the name, I asked her to just call me “Sam”. “Sam” is the name I maintained for the next few session as well. However, at the next session, she called me “Samita” and I was so touched that she’d learnt my name.

Do you think that your experience here may affect the way you approach education in the future?
I can’t say now how much this will change the way I teach but what I have certainly learnt from my experience here is to think on my feet. Sometimes, when you work with a differently-abled child, a certain approach may not work. That’s when you have to adapt and try something different. Perhaps the second approach you try won’t succeed as well, but you keep trying because maybe the next approach will work. It has taught me to not to give up.

Have you noticed any particular changes in your mentee since you started working with her?
Tricia has improved tremendously in terms of confidence. At the second last session, I mentioned to her parents that perhaps they could help her start a reflection diary, just like the one Sanjiivan has. They were, of course, supportive of the idea and helped her. Tricia brought her diary to the next session, and I was very touched that she wanted to share it with me. She was very proud of it. Later, at the end of the session, when another mentee was sharing about his experiences and his diary, Tricia looked at me and told me she also wanted to share about her diary too. I was very moved and proud that this young girl had grown in confidence, and I joined her in the front as she showed everyone her diary.

That’s an amazing story, Samita. Could we ask what your aspirations are for Care2Run?
I would love for more people to learn about the programmes and to hopefully, make a difference in the lives of differently-abled children. There is so much of stigma attached to differently-abled children and I feel that’s because people don’t know much about developmental differences and how to engage differently-abled persons. I think Care2Run provides an opportunity to learn and make an impact in not just the lives of differently-abled persons, but also the entire world.

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