WHAT MAKES AN ALTRUIST
In a society where most would choose something more "prestigious", Charmaine Lim chooses kindness
Word and Illustrations by Hong Jie Ying | Photos by Charmaine Lim
19-year-old Charmaine Lim is no ordinary teenager. Charmaine Lim is an optimist and an altruist. In a society where most people her age would have chosen something more “prestigious” to study in polytechnic like business or engineering etc, Charmaine chose social work.
Currently enrolled in Nanyang Polytechnic’s Social Work, Charmaine is paving her own road to becoming a social worker.
In the course of her studies, Charmaine explains that she is required to do a lot of individual and group based casework as well as community casework, where they go out to the community and reach out to those in need.
To her, social work is a career that gives her a platform to express her care and concern for others. “It’s kind of like a journey with the client through a tough period of time or in a stage of their lives,” she adds.
Being a social worker is no easy feat. Charmaine stresses that social work is something that you should do only if you are passionate about it because it gets emotionally, mentally and physically draining at time and one may just decide to give it up.
“It get hard sometimes. You have to put so much of yourself into it and sometimes it drains you. You need to get it back, (you) basically burn out, and you lose that passion to help. That’s why self care is important!”
Charmaine explains that because living in a urban and fast paced society, we get so busy living our own lives that we often overlook the importance of selflessness and kindness. We often forget that we have the power to influence and change someone’s mood or day or even their lives.
The littlest actions or the simplest words may have such a great impact on someone although we think nothing about them. “I believe that everyone deserves love. Small kind gestures are ways of showing a little bit of your love,” she says. She's reminded to be cautious of her words and actions and to say and do nice things whenever possible.
She also believes that in order to cultivate the culture of selflessness and kindness in Singapore, we need to be exposed to the culture from a young age.
She cites examples like VIA (Value In Action programme), CIP (Community Involvement Programme) and linking with schools to encourage kids are good steps taken to inculcate the importance of the values of kindness and selflessness.
She believes that more of these programmes should be introduced to schools as baby steps to achieve the culture in Singapore.
Charmaine hopes to pursue a degree in Social Work at the National University of Singapore (NUS) after graduating from NYP. She is also looking to get into correctional services such as juvenile homes, prisons and aftercare agencies.
“I feel that by working in correctional settings, I will be able to bring hope to the clients, showing them that they are people out there who truly care and want to help them go through that particular phase in life.”
Charmaine says that much like how motivation and inspiration is important for her as a social worker, hope is important for the clients so that they do not give up. And she believes that she will be able to give her clients the hope that they need.
“If you want to be a social worker, please be prepared to sacrifice to help others and to be selfless. If that is what your passion brings you to, go for it. (However), always remember to love yourself before loving others!”