Bouncing back from adversity; Giving to the community
At the tender age of nine, Maisarah’s parents filed for divorce, leaving her mother to care for her and her elder brother as a single parent. With finances being a huge strain, the family of three stayed in a rental room. It was not for another seven years before her mother, an administrative clerk, could afford to buy a place of their own.
During this period, Maisarah received help from many. She was on the Financial Assistance Scheme provided by the Ministry of Education, for pocket money. Kind family friends readily rendered assistance. They bought new furniture for the family’s new home, offered to pay for overseas trips and even took on medical bills. With a heart of gratitude, she was driven to do her own part for the community, and vowed to pay it forward.
Not a stranger to difficult circumstances, Maisarah’s experiences helped her to understand the struggles of the underprivileged and to empathise with them, all the more so during the pandemic which proved even more challenging for the vulnerable. Despite having to juggle a hectic academic curriculum in her A Level year, she was determined to do her part. During the June holidays where most of her peers would be busy revising for the upcoming Mid-Year Examinations, Maisarah carved out time to volunteer with Youthcorps to deliver meals to the elderly. This experience made her more aware of the difficulties that the elderly faced to leave home to get food, especially since many of them stayed alone and may be restricted by their physical immobility. Maisarah also volunteered at ‘Gift of Reading’, a Values in Action programme conducted at a PCF centre. The experience gave Maisarah a sense of fulfilment as she saw how a simple act of kindness had the power to spark creativity and joy in the children. Through arts and crafts, they were further inspired to bring to life, the stories that Maisarah had read to them. No matter how busy she was, Maisarah sought for opportunities to help the less fortunate. “I want to reach out to people and let them know that they are not alone in their journey. There will always be people rooting for them.” The tagline by Singapore Red Cross, “Give blood, save lives” is another practice that Maisarah lives by. Once she was of legal age, she became a regular blood donor, donating blood three to four times a year since she turned sixteen.
As a student, Maisarah was also a determined young lady who did not let setbacks get in her way. In fact, it was her experiences with the less fortunate that gave her strength to persevere through her circumstances and to stay strong. Home-based learning which was introduced during the 2020 circuit breaker came to be an initial difficulty for Maisarah. An extroverted person, she was used to being surrounded by friends as she relished in the interactions with others. Nonetheless, she chose to look on the bright side, past her isolation to learn from this experience. “Home-based learning taught me to be more independent and discover more traits about myself. It pushed me to learn to enjoy my own company and be comfortable with my own thoughts. Paying more attention to my mental wellness, I made time to rest, exercise and to pursue my interests.”
Her resilience was also evident outside of the classroom, in the netball court. Although she tore her knee ligament while in secondary school, she pursued her love for netball, pushing herself to give her best even as she sought to heal from her injury through physiotherapy sessions. She regained her strength and agility after just one year of hard work and determination. Her teachers, coach and teammates recognised her dedication and commitment to the CCA, and she took on the leadership role of Netball Captain in her JC2 year. Although the National School Games were cancelled due to the pandemic, she led her team well in the inter-college tournament. She taught them the values of humility and dedication. Her leadership was well recognised and lauded for its people-centric nature, and she was befittingly awarded the Edusave Character Award in 2020, and the EAGLES Award for Service and Leadership in 2021.
Maisarah truly exemplifies resilience and a positive mindset, choosing to take challenges in her stride and pay it forward to the community. Armed with ambitions to work in the medical field, she took the initiative to research and attend talks to further her convictions. Maisarah also signed up as a volunteer for Red Cross Youth during her break after A Levels. She would be inducted to the organisation in Feburary and will continue her volunteering journey in projects thereafter. Her drive and passion to give back to the community despite the challenges she faces certainly shows her compassion and heart for the less fortunate.