Celebrate Best Buddies Singapore
Best Buddies Singapore has been growing steadily since its founding in 2005. Ms. Lixian Phua, one of the first volunteers, now in her 4th year with Best Buddies, has taken up the role as the College Buddy Director and is eager to spread the important mission of social inclusion to her community. This is her story about her friendship with Ms. Gek Wee.
<Before I joined Best Buddies, the idea of social inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities did not occur to me. I had volunteered at group homes for people with intellectual disabilities, helping to plan recreational games for the residents. I tended to view people with intellectual disabilities as beneficiaries of a service and I was content to see my interaction with them end when my volunteer time was over for the day. I had never thought that they could learn to take care of themselves or that they could also have thoughts or problems like me.
Volunteering with Best Buddies has allowed me to understand the potential and capability of people with intellectual disabilities. I am inspired every day to do more for the future of people with intellectual disabilities and hope that our society will, one day, fully include them. I have come to enjoy the opportunities for conversations that dispel misconceptions and myths that my family and friends have about people with intellectual disabilities. Who is to say that person with an intellectual disability cannot have friends without a disability? Who is to say that a person with an intellectual disability cannot live a productive and fulfilling life like anyone else?
When someone befriends a person with an intellectual disability, they have the opportunity to help that person learn the skills necessary to experience life with greater ease and comfort. The real gift, however, is the magic that can be experienced by seeing life from a different perspective – transformative for both friends.
Being involved in Best Buddies has helped me slow down and enjoy the simplicity of life. I’m on a busy schedule, with many deadlines, sometimes I don't have time to notice the small things. I have learned to garner my patience. I am my buddy’s first friend and she is so enthusiastic, she will often contact me repeatedly to plan our next activity. Our friendship has taught me to be efficient with my schedule and to make time for things that bring me joy – window shopping or going to see a great movie, exploring the different areas of Singapore and celebrating festive seasons together.
My buddy cares for me because I am her friend and she often reminds me to take care of myself. I also used to receive such reminders from my family and I would feel that they were too naggy, but coming from my buddy, I’ve come to appreciate the reminders and am now more patient with my family. My buddy has helped me to become a more patient person, a more understanding person, a better person.