Friday, July 24, 2009

Fasting for Funds. Fighting for Funds.

Sky Chia emails me every year around this time. This is when World Vision's 40-Hour Famine comes around and this spunky 18-year-old pledges to fast to raise funds for children suffering from hunger.

Yes, there is a Global Food Crisis, and 900 million people are chronically hungry around the world. Every day, 25,000 children die from hunger and preventable diseases.

This is the 5th year Sky is participating in this fundraiser. And for 3 consecutive years, she's been among the top 25 fundraisers in Australia, and the National Top Individual Fundraiser in 2006.

Believe it or not, she started out aiming to raise A$300 from her first fast, but she was challenged by dad Chia Ming Chien - who was also my guest today - to simply go out on a limb and ASK. He gave her a list of his close friends' contacts, and Sky took the initiative to email them and explain to them what she was doing for World Vision.

"That's the biggest lesson I've learnt," Sky says in retrospect. "People generally want to help. All you need to do is to ask." That first year, she raised A$3,000.

Well, if you'd like to support Sky in this year's 40 Hour Famine (21-23 Aug), you can pledge your donations here. Click on DONATE and you'll be prompted to key in a Famine Number. Simply type in 670852581. Or if you'd like to send her your well wishes, email her at sky.chia3@hotmail.

18-year-old Sky Chia embarks on a 40 Hour Famine. Supporting her endeavour is dad, Chia Ming Chien.

This year, Sky will not only go without food for 40 hours, she will also bake cookies & cakes to raise additional funds. On top of that, she will go without her voice. Complete silence. Tall order for a teenage girl, won't you say? She targets to raise A$2,000 this year.

Divorce rates are rising in Singapore. And one of the problems we're facing is the enforcement of maintenance order, i.e. when the Paying Party defaults on payment and the victim has to chase.

Li-Ann, a single mum with an 11-year-old boy, shared that each time that happens, she has to turn to the Family court, make a report, fill up forms and prove that her ex-husband has not paid. They would then have to go before the judge. The process often takes over a month. Sometimes, before the arrears is settled, she's back in court again filing for another breach. Since Dec 2005, she has been in & out of court over 15 times.

Providing us with the breadth and depth of the issue were Laura Hwang, Chairperson of the Taskforce for Improving the Enforcement of Maintenance Order & 2nd Vice-President of the Singapore Council of Women's Organisations (SCWO); Wee Wan Joo, also a member of the Taskforce & immediate past President of SCWO; and social worker Azita Abdul Aziz, Centre Director of As-Salaam PPIS Family Support Centre.

It was a very eye-opening, informative chat and I realise now just how the current system puts the burden squarely on the shoulders of the victim. This should not be the case. After studying other jurisdictions in Britain and Australia, the task force will present their proposed structure and recommendations at a forum next Monday. For details, click here.

Maintaining the Family: Forum on Improving the Enforcement of Maintenance Orders
Mon, 27 July
10am - 2pm
Singapore Management University
Conference Hall 1 (Level 5)
Administration Building @ 81 Victoria Street

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