Small but tight knit group of HWN volunteers at Taman Jurong site. Don’t their gleaming smiles make them look like a big, loving family?
Do you ever have an urge to call someone completely non-blood related to you your “family”?
Do you have a special friend whom you think you are even closer to than some of your blood relatives?
The electrifyingly strong connection between you and your special friend surpasses even blood relations. And you never fail to be amazed at the fact that you know each other so well (and are so deeply entrusted with each other’s’ secrets) that separation would be simply unbearable.
Having known each other for such a long time, this person is already considered a constant in your life – and even despite not frequently contacting each other, you know deep down that you will always be there for each other.
If you found yourself nodding profusely at any two of the statements above, then you might have just found your found family!
It may not be that surprising after all, as it is not blood that makes you family.
It is love.
Mdm Low and fellow HWSOP volunteers posing for a group photo after our deep, heart-to-heart conversation on the topic of ‘family beyond blood’.
That is the same scenario for seniors from the Heartware Support Our Pioneers Programme (HWSOP) too. A senior from the Taman Jurong site, Mdm Low, said that she always looks forward to the 2 Saturdays in the month when our Heartware Network (HWN) volunteers visit her. To her, we are just like the morning sun rays that seep through her windowsill everyday – timely, always warm and comforting.
At a ripe age of 88, Mdm Low is battling stage four throat cancer. Having undergone innumerable painful chemotherapy sessions and countless hospital visits, her optimistic attitude towards life is both endearing and enviable. Her concept of life and death is very philosophical. She thinks of life as a roller coaster ride – a full-fledged experience full of ups and downs, happy and sad moments, right and wrong decisions, meet-ups and farewells. However, she is determined to never let these affect her mood. After all, the only constant in life is change. She taught us that life is a precious one-time experience, and it is up to us to determine whether every living moment is spent idling or hustling, mournful or upbeat.
When asked about her opinion on the concept of found family, her self-deprecating yet humorous response brought smiles on our faces. “Well, aren’t you talking to me right now? Haven’t you been spending so many Saturday mornings with a dying old woman like me? I thought we were family long ago!” Indeed, the innumerable hours of companionship with each other has made us family beyond blood in a gradual but definite manner. All the heart-to-heart talks and carefully-organised bonding outings may really have the magical power to bring two hearts closer – so close that the bonds forged even surpass blood relations.
How exactly do you build bonds beyond family? Months of commitment, dedication, deep conversations, and willingness to be vulnerable and open up to the other party without fear of judgement. Despite the language barrier at times, volunteers shower Mdm Leong with care and love, regardless.
“The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb” suggests that the blood shed on battlefields bond soldiers more strongly than simply genetics. Indeed, families may be bonded the way they are – blood ties may have been destined even before our births and how relatives are bound to and with us for life. However, this does not restrict the formation of family beyond blood. Found family is a family that we curate on our own choice, where we are given the liberty to consider our close friends as our family beyond blood.
Do you have anyone whom you could consider as your family members beyond blood?
Are you passionate about volunteering?
Are you keen on building intimate ties with like-minded peers and the elderly?
Do you ever have a recurring thought at the back of your mind that urges you to do something more meaningful and impactful on your lazy weekends instead of just idling?
If your answer is a loud and resounding “Yes!” to any of the above questions, then our Support Our Pioneers Programme might just be a perfect fit for you!
Other than looking forward to fun-filled biweekly visits with like-minded volunteers and elderly at various deployment sites (there will definitely be one which is located near your pace of stay!), you will also be able to build bonds beyond family and become a more proficient effective communicator!