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SINDA’s annual Back To School kits are part of heightened support to ensure the community’s well-being in the Covid-19 climate

SINDA’s annual Back To School Festival (BTSF) will see 3,500 disadvantaged students receiving school kits with vouchers to help them prepare for the new school year. These kits have $180 worth of vouchers – $120 in stationery/book vouchers and $60 in shoe vouchers. These BTSF kits are provided each year to students whose families’ monthly household per capita income (PCI) falls within $1,000. The recipients come from all academic levels – from primary school to tertiary-level students.

Among those receiving this year’s BTSF kits are the four children of Senthamarai d/o V Subramaniam. The family of six collected their kits on Sunday, 22 November, which Senthamarai finds especially useful in ensuring that her children are equipped with the necessities for the upcoming school year: “My older children have been receiving BTSF school kits for a few years now. When Covid-19 struck, our financial situation worsened and I was worried that I won’t be able cater to their needs. It’s a relief to know that even in the current situation, I can rely on SINDA’s help to ease my financial expenses and ensure my children are prepared for school next year.”

Senthamarai became the sole breadwinner of her family five years ago, when her husband left the workforce to become the caregiver to their children. Running a home-based business selling children’s clothes and face masks, she is also a client of the SINDA Family Service Centre (SFSC) – which extends targeted support to families in overcoming their challenges. Together with ongoing financial assistance from SFSC, Senthamarai’s family has also received increased support this year to overcome Covid-19-related difficulties – food rations, laptops for her school-going children and increased financial pay-outs. With no fixed-income from her business, Senthamarai relies on these SINDA schemes to help offset her expenses.

Launching BTSF this year, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and President of SINDA Ms Indranee Rajah shared that even against a Covid-19 backdrop, no student’s learning or education should be compromised: “Covid-19 has brought about challenges – some families needed financial assistance, students needed devices for home-based learning, and some parents had to stay home to care for their children. To assist such families, SINDA has deepened and enhanced its support for the Indian community.”

Meeting with some BTSF recipients and their families virtually, Minister Indranee also urged families to remain resilient in the current climate and assured students that the government and community-bodies like SINDA will continue to ensure that they have the right support to succeed and do well in their chosen academic paths.

Another parent who was appreciative of the aid her children received, is 33-year-old Nasheela Begum d/o Nizammudin. As a single parent, she has benefitted from various parenting programmes offered by SINDA, to equip herself with the necessary parenting skills and knowledge as well as in looking after their well-being, while working full-time.

“I’m happy that SINDA was able to help both my children and I, in the various areas we required support in. We always look forward to getting these vouchers, because it helps to ease my financial burden while allowing me to purchase good books, stationery and shoes for my children. BTSF has almost become a yearly ritual for us and I’m glad we could benefit from the continued assistance this year,” shared Nasheela.

Interacting with BTSF recipients and their families, CEO, SINDA, Mr Anbarasu Rajendran shared: “Educational performance in the community remains a key focus for SINDA and the organisation will do everything necessary to support our students’ pursuits. At the same time, families and parents play a very important role in supporting their children’s academic journeys. Through efforts such as BTSF, we can ensure that these families have continued access to the right support and resources, so that they can ensure their children’s academic excellence and well-being.”

A total of $630,000 will be distributed to recipients through this year’s BTSF. This sum is in addition to the $7 million earmarked by SINDA to assist the Indian community with Covid-19 relief. Recipients this year include students known to SINDA, as well as other Family Service Centres, Self-Help Groups and student care centres.

Due to ongoing Covid-19 safe-distancing measures, BTSF 2020 was  staggered across 11 days – students and families had been assigned specific days and time slots to visit SINDA and collect their BTSF kits across 11 days, till 30 November 2020.

Source:  SINDA Press Release November 2020

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