There are 51 children registered in the Community Tabung, our savings programme where a child’s savings for the month is dropped into a common pool on coin counting day. The total amount collected is then tripled by the Sonja Hope Foundation before being distributed equally to all children who had contributed. The money is then banked into their child development account (CDA) where the government matches a dollar for dollar. 25 children attended this week’s session and each of them will have $144.48 more in their CDA. About Baby Bonus
After operating this programme in one neighbourhood for a year, we are glad that parents from 2 other neighbourhoods have asked for it. Business and social enterprise students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic are registering children in one and a few parent volunteers are doing the same in another. Soon there will be more children on the programme but putting aside a few coins a day is a challenge for many and participation will be irregular.
2 children were surprised when their mother allowed them to join this week’s session. Mother was told that her children will not be asked to deposit their savings but to participate is an activity that imparts money management skills. While the coins were being counted, students from the NTU Accountancy and Business Club provided the children with a budget and challenged them to build the tallest straw tower from the “construction” materials available. Marshmallows, gummy bears, reusable adhesives and straws were some materials the children could purchase with their budget. The tallest tower that could withstand the draft from a small portable fan would be declared the winner. Additional prizes were also given out to those who used their budget prudently.
Gummy bears and other confectionary were among the materials, but our children did not bite the bait. They purchased marshmallows instead as they were useful as straw connectors. When the activity was over, they ate up the ones that did not touch the floor. One teaching point the activity attempted to convey was the difference between “needs” and “wants” when managing a budget. It seems like our children stretched their budget to satisfy the need for a straw tower and to satisfy their sweet tooth.
By the way, the 2 children who joined the session after their mother was persuaded, also received a deposit in their CDA account as a volunteer had quietly dropped off a few dollars on their behalf. They had not been participating in the programme as regularly as they would have liked, and I am sure their mother would not have been offended by the kindness. Families who have signed up value the habit of saving but it is sometimes not possible to do so.
Children of unwed parents who are born after 1 September 2016 can receive CDA benefits. Those born before do not but that did not deter a grandmother who has guardianship for her 5-year old grandchild from seeking permission to open one for her ward. In her mind, attempting to meet the education and health needs of the child is a responsibility she must endeavour to fulfil regardless. The CDA was opened just a couple of weeks ago and after attending the programme for the first time this week, she promised that she will return for the next coin counting day.
Enjoy your weekend.
Poverty is a blessing hated by all men. – Italian Proverb