President Halimah Yacob visits Agape Village to mingle with staff and beneficiaries

President Halimah Yacob interacts with foreign domestic workers at Agape Village.
President Halimah Yacob interacts with foreign domestic workers at Agape Village.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

SINGAPORE - Domestic helpers, at-risk youths and seniors with dementia are some of the diverse groups who can find help under one roof at the Agape Village in Toa Payoh.

President Halimah Yacob paid a visit to the centre on Friday (Sept 22), mingling with staff and beneficiaries and learning about the range of services on offer.

The four-story building houses 14 member organisations from Caritas Singapore, the social service arm of the Catholic Church here, which reaches out to people of all races, nationalities and religions.

One of Madam Halimah's stops was the Mamre Oaks day activity centre for adults with intellectual disabilities, which offers among other things exercise programmes, and art and craft lessons.

She also chatted with a group of domestic helpers and was given a demonstration of the skills they had picked up in caregiving classes at Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants & Itinerant People (ACMI).

An excited Vickey Del Rosario,a 44-year-old domestic helper from the Philippines who is taking baking classes at the centre, said: "We feel excited and proud to see her. Not everybody can see the President!"

ACMI executive director Esther Chia said Madam Halimah's visit was a meaningful opportunity that could heighten the sense of belonging for migrants here.

"Being in the migrant scene, these people normally feel left out. So opportunities like these mean a lot," she said.

Agape Village Management Committee chairman Teo Jin Lee, who accompanied Madam Halimah on the tour around the centre, said they wanted to show the President an example of a "holistic", one-stop approach to supporting and empowering families.

The centre among other things houses medical and dental clinics, which provide subsidised services, and physiotherapy centres for the physically disabled.

Ms Teo said the different organisations are all trying to do more.

Ms Chia, for one, said ACMI has been able to reach out to domestic helpers but hopes to involve more foreign workers from other sectors.

Meanwhile, Mamre Oaks chairman Geraldine Szeto said the activity centre can accommodate 30 or more people, but only 10 people are currently enrolled.

This is due to challenges with arranging transport, she said, adding she hoped the centre can get some help on that front.

President Halimah has made a series of visits to social service organisations in the past week.