By Phua Huijia
Huijia is the founder and director of Skillseed, a new mother, and giver of lunchtime peptalks.
One word to sum up 2017 for Skillseed as an entity and for me, personally - Gratitude.
2017 was a big year of learning for Skillseed. Besides our regular school courses, we embarked on major year-long training projects with SPD (Serving People with Disabilities) and raiSE (Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise). The former saw us equipping youths with disabilities with hard and soft skills so that they could craft sustainable projects that would eventually make mainstream society inclusive for people with different disabilities. This exciting partnership was also featured by Channel 8 on Hello Singapore (狮城有约). In the latter project, we facilitated the development of a pipeline of young talents for Singapore's social sector through raiSE's inaugural Social Enterprise Young Talent Programme. Besides training the youths in a suite of social innovation and project management skills, we also curated and organized learning journeys for the participants to our fellow social enterprises.
But what I am really, really grateful for, is that we were able to do all these, and more, while I had a high risk pregnancy. And throughout my pregnancy, I was not only buoyed by the love and support from my own team, but I was also showered with care by our amazing clients and community partners. Yen Yee and Hui Hong from raiSE, Kanitha, Dilys and Rachel from SPD, teachers from our partnering schools (you know who you are!), community partners from all over the world, youths whom we trained...From personal messages to gifts for baby Hope and even visits in-person, we felt so blessed by our community.
Running a social enterprise is already a task and a half, let alone run one while having to manage health complications and worry every single day about the life of your unborn child. Through God's grace, however, we made it, and we couldn't have done it without all of these amazing people who have touched our lives in more ways than they can imagine.
Thank you. Thank you for trusting us with your projects, and giving us an opportunity to work alongside you to drive social impact. Thank you for your understanding during this challenging year. Thank you for being more than clients, more than partners. Thank you for being our friends.
As 2017 comes to a close, we wish all our community members a most blessed season of joy, and we look forward to more opportunities to collaborate and deepen our friendship in 2018.
Huijia, Wilson and our newest Skillseed member - baby Hope
On Dec 8, Wilson and I held a small birthday gathering for our baby Hope at Foreword Coffee at NUS for our Skillseed team and associates. Foreword Coffee, a new social enterprise cafe that employs people with disabilities, was founded by two incredibly dedicated and passionate youths, Wei Jie and Anderson, who met on one of our Skillseed courses in 2014. Wei Jie also subsequently interned at Skillseed and is now his own boss making waves in the cafe scene. We couldn't think of a better place to hold Hope's birthday gathering for Skillseeders - past and present - and friends.
As new parents Wilson and I have felt inadequate in many ways, and we continue to grapple with our insecurities on a daily basis. But this small gathering made us feel that, if there was anything that we did right, that would be creating this incredible environment of love into which Hope was born into, and for building a work family that we're proud to introduce our little one to.
This, to us, is success.
I can't say that I knew exactly what I envisioned Skillseed to be when I founded it, but I knew I wanted Skillseed to not just become a place to turn up for work at, and slog mindlessly from 9 to 5 (or more!). Skillseed, to me, is where we bring people of different backgrounds together to bond in a common purpose to empower youths and community partners for social good. And I sincerely believe that in order to impact and empower others, we need to feel empowered ourselves first. We need to look forward to going to work, to meeting our colleagues, to relish the fact that what we do matters, to savor even the tedious nitty gritties of each project because we know that they are contributing to something so much more meaningful, something that could transform lives, even in a small way.
Skillseed is where passion goes to work, cries, plays, laughs, falls down and rises again.
Skillseed is where Passion meets Purpose, falls in love and has babies.