Caregiver, lifelong learner among women recognised

Mrs Molly Shoo, 70, winner of the Lifelong Learner award at the Sembawang GRC Women's Festival, with her husband Shoo How Beng, 68. She serves with the Singapore Red Cross and takes art therapy and cooking courses. Madam Emalin Rom, 71, was honoured
Madam Emalin Rom, 71, was honoured with the Loving Caregiver award for her tireless dedication to her three adult children who have special needs. She has been their sole caregiver for the past 36 years. Her youngest child, 34, and 36-year-old twins have autism. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Mrs Molly Shoo, 70, winner of the Lifelong Learner award at the Sembawang GRC Women's Festival, with her husband Shoo How Beng, 68. She serves with the Singapore Red Cross and takes art therapy and cooking courses. Madam Emalin Rom, 71, was honoured
Mrs Molly Shoo, 70, winner of the Lifelong Learner award at the Sembawang GRC Women's Festival, with her husband Shoo How Beng, 68. She serves with the Singapore Red Cross and takes art therapy and cooking courses. ST PHOTS: NG SOR LUAN

For the past 36 years, Madam Emalin Rom, 71, has been the sole caregiver to her three adult children who have special needs.

Never once did she expect to be lauded for what she considers to be her duty as a mother.

But her tireless dedication to her children was recognised on International Women's Day yesterday at the Sembawang GRC Women's Festival, where she won the Loving Caregiver award.

"It is quite challenging to take care of them, but as a mother, I cannot give up. It takes a lot of love and patience, but they are not a burden - they bring a lot of joy to me and make me smile every day," said Madam Emalin, a retired telecommunications operator whose husband died eight years ago.

Her youngest child, 34, and 36-year-old twins have autism.

Madam Emalin was one of four winners, picked from a pool of 40 nominated women, at the event at Kampung Admiralty yesterday. She was nominated by her neighbour.

Winning the Lifelong Learner award was Mrs Molly Shoo, 70, who serves with the Singapore Red Cross and takes SkillsFuture courses in art therapy and cooking courses. Her days are also packed with exercise programmes that she attends with her friends and home visits to other seniors. "I am not a superwoman; I get tired with back-to-back appointments, but with the help of my family, it works out. At the end of the day, it is rewarding to be able to do all these things," said the housewife, who has two grandchildren.

Her son, Joshua Shoo, 40, a church worker, nominated her for the award. He said: "My mother has a willingness to learn, and I thought it will be good encouragement for her and to also inspire other people to keep on learning regardless of their age."

The other two award categories - Multi-Tasker and Social Influencer - highlight how women juggle multiple hats and make positive contributions to society, respectively.

Women-run small businesses were highlighted in a roadshow at yesterday's event, which drew around 800 participants. There were also dance performances, mass workouts and free make-up and floral arrangement workshops.

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung and Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and Health Amrin Amin, both Sembawang GRC grassroots advisers, attended the event.

The festival's organising chairman Poh Li San, who is vice-chairman of the Sembawang Citizens Consultative Committee, said: "There are so many good examples of outstanding women in our community, so we want to honour them and celebrate their contribution to their families and society. We hope their stories inspire others, even in times of difficulties."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2020, with the headline 'Caregiver, lifelong learner among women recognised'. Subscribe