Volunteers get Hokkien lessons to better help the elderly

Madam Manuel Stella Consearo (far right), 63, is one member of the group of about 30 participants learning basic conversational Hokkien under the guidance of Madam Ng Lay Geok (standing), 71, at the Nee Soon South Community Club.
Madam Manuel Stella Consearo (far right), 63, is one member of the group of about 30 participants learning basic conversational Hokkien under the guidance of Madam Ng Lay Geok (standing), 71, at the Nee Soon South Community Club.ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

Grassroots leaders and volunteers from Nee Soon GRC are learning Hokkien in an effort to improve communication with elderly residents.

A group of about 30 attended the first of 10 weekly basic conversational classes last night at Nee Soon South Community Club.

Ms Lee Bee Wah, an MP for Nee Soon GRC, decided to set up the lessons after noticing how volunteers had difficulties explaining government schemes - such as the Pioneer Generation Package - to elderly residents who can speak only Hokkien.

Ms Lee said: "The majority of residents here communicate in Mandarin and Hokkien.

"A lot of government policies and packages are very good - provided residents can understand what they are about. Our immediate need is to explain the Pioneer Generation Package to them, then MediShield Life, followed by other schemes."

Participants yesterday mainly included people in their 40s to 60s, from a range of ethnic backgrounds.

One of them was Ms Manuel Stella Consearo, a 63-year-old security officer who helps to give out food and drinks in the neighbourhood once a month.

She said: "Now I can speak only broken Hokkien to them and it is disappointing when they cannot understand me. Hopefully, they will be able to after these classes."

CHERYL FAITH WEE