Stories of dads to highlight values in Celebrating Fathers movement

SINGAPORE - When he was eleven years old, Mr Mohd Jamaluddin Abdullah worked in a bakery cleaning cake moulds as his adoptive parents would not give him enough money to support his education.

Now a proud father to four children between nine to five years old, the 43-year-old private hire driver dedicates his time as a parent volunteer at Zhenghua Primary School as he awaits the birth of his daughter in August. "I love my children more than life itself," he said.

His account was one of five stories reflecting the challenges fathers face, commemorated in the launch of the Celebrating Fathers 2017 community movement at Junction 10 on Thursday morning (May 18).

This year's theme, "Voices of a Father", aims to highlight the stories of fathers through videos that convey the key qualities of protection, affirmation, presence, resilience and inspiration. Mr Jamaluddin's story represents the value of resilience.

The movement celebrates the role of fathers and aims to raise awareness of the importance of active fatherhood. It starts with a Dads for Life Camp held in conjunction with the NS50 Army Open House from May 28 to 29, and culminates in a Dads' Day Out carnival on June 18 at the new Mediacorp campus at Stars Avenue.

The movement, which was held for the first time in 2016, is jointly organised by the Centre for Fathering and Mediacorp. It is supported by the National Population and Talent Division and the Ministry of Social and Family Development.

The Centre for Fathering in Singapore plans to reach out to more incarcerated fathers with contact services company Agape Connecting People, and work with the Industrial and Services Cooperative Society to help ex-offender fathers gain training and employment.

In addition, the centre plans to collaborate with the People's Association Embracing Parenthood Programme to encourage new fathers to attend its workshops to educate them about parenting. This is the first time the Centre for Fathering is working with these three organisations.

"For the next three years, we plan to reach out to 40,000 families to help them with...not just gifts, but also books and materials that will help fathers be better fathers," said Mr Richard Hoon, chairman of the Centre for Fathering here.

"At the beginning we were doing it with educated fathers. Now, we have to move to the masses."

During the movement, fathers can enjoy special deals in June under Deals for Dads at 13 retailers and attractions, such as Skyline Luge Sentosa and Takashimaya, when they wear Dads for Life wristbands or like the Dads for Life Facebook page.

Mr Jamaluddin approved of the movement's efforts in encouraging fathers to play an active role in their children's lives.

"All fathers must be there for our children. They (children) might not be good at academics but they might be good at something else, so you must find out what they want."

Said Second Minister for Manpower and Foreign Affairs Josephine Teo in a statement on Thursday on Celebrating Fathers: "This is a meaningful community initiative to recognise the critical role that fathers play in families, and support fathers in their parenthood journey."

Mrs Teo, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, added: "Many fathers - especially those from the Millenial generation - enjoy strong bonds with their children. I hope more will be inspired to get involved and be part of their children's growing up years."

For more information on Celebrating Fathers, visit www.celebratingfathers.sg .