Keen to make change happen
Local celeb appointed World Vision ambassador
As a travel show host, she has witnessed scenes of devastation that moved her to tears.
Among them: An entire village stricken with Aids, and masses of starving children.
Belinda Lee, 37, now wants to take her compassion for these children one step further by embracing her new role as ambassador of World Vision Singapore.
At a dialogue session yesterday, Leespoke about her desire to garner support for positive change in the lives of the destitute and exploited children.
Called Saving Our Girls, the session, held at Black Bird Cafe, revealed hard truths about sexual exploitation, gender inequality, child marriage and child abuse in Asia and Africa.
At the event, Lee spoke to a World Vision-registered child, Gizework Seyoum. The 16-year-old from Ethiopia spoke about her struggles and the change World Vision has brought to her community.
Lee told The New Paper: "Some people will ask how this relates to Singapore.
"I want them to see helping these children as an extension of them helping other human beings, no matter where they come from.
"In Singapore, we're so lucky to have what we have and this is why we have the means as a first-world country to help third-world countries."
Lee, who, through World Vision, sponsors two girls, from Nepal and Cambodia, said she wants to change the misconception that the money goes only to the sponsored child.
Lee, who pays $45 a month for each child, said that apart from paying for school materials, the money goes to improving village infrastructure.
She had picked her two sponsored children - six-year-old Pramila from Nepal and five-year-old Vimean from Cambodia - from cards featuring pictures of children hoping to be sponsored.
"I wish I could sponsor more children and I would definitely be open to that if I am able to financially," Lee said.
She added that fellow World Vision ambassador, Taiwanese singer Lee Hom, told her about the 10 children he sponsors in Laos, and the joy he feels at making a difference.
World Vision's director of resource development and communications Fiona Soh said that Lee was chosen as an ambassador because she is compassionate and is keen to lend her influence to draw attention to the organisation's causes.
Said Ms Soh: "Belinda possesses a global outlook and is attuned to the ground issues.
"Above all, she sees how World Vision's programmes are empowering vulnerable and impoverished children and families in ways that allow sustainability in the long term.
"As a sponsor of two children in Nepal and Cambodia, she is looking forward to a child sponsorship trip where she can better understand her contribution that can bring real hope to children."
HELPING KIDS OFF STREETS
World Vision's interventions for street children in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia adopt a three-prong approach.
PROTECTING THE CHILD
- Providing emergency shelter, food.
- Forming coalition with local authorities and the police.
- Educating parents and caregivers.
- Equipping children with life skills and information about their rights and ways to protect themselves.
- Providing access to legal and psychological counselling.
EDUCATING THE CHILD
- Educational support and counselling since many street kids have no access to formal education.
- Monitoring school attendances.
- Giving them opportunities to access informal education at the centre, attending camps and field trips.
- Providing administration/documentation services to help children get formal education.
CHANGING BEHAVIOUR AND ATTITUDE
- Giving them vocational skills to allow them to earn a living.
- Educating communities on protecting children from sexual predators.