Earlier this year, we've had the privilege to be able to meet Aunty Helen through a mutual friend. We'd had tea with her and shared with her more about our 1nspired for Good Movement, a movement that encourages companies, brands, and individuals to give their 1% (whatever that means to them) back to society.
For us at E&S Blessing, our 1% is in the Celebrating Dreams Project -- we partner with the single mothers in HCSA Dayspring's SPIN Programme. These single mothers come with dreams of starting their own businesses and that's where we come in. We work with them, mentor them, and help grow their skills. These products that they make and create are sold here on our website with the profits going directly to them!
Aunty Helen's vision and heart connected with ours there and then, and she expressed her heart to be involved in this programme too. Now, Aunty Helen is our resident mentor for two of our beloved single mothers in the Celebrating Dreams Project. She plays a major part by mentoring these single mothers in the area of sewing and visits them weekly for these sessions. More than just sharing her amazing sewing skills with them, she has also become a friend to them too.
Today, we have the opportunity to hear from Aunty Helen and to hear her story:
E&S: Hello Aunty Helen! Thank you so much for taking some time out to share your story with us. Could you first introduce yourself to our readers?
Aunty Helen: I'm Helen Gan Bee Kwang and am married with two adult daughters and three grand-daughters who live in the United Kingdom. I had been away from Singapore for 20+ years now. My husband and I were in South Africa and UK during this time, and now, we're back in Singapore.
E&S: We know that you've been sewing for a very long time now and we remembered that you mentioned that you are still learning sewing even after all these years. Could you share with us your sewing journey thus far? How long have you been sewing and what do you love about sewing?
Aunty Helen: I've been sewing for many years. What I like about sewing is being able to transform a piece of fabric into a creative design.
I started sewing when I was a 16-year-old teenager. At that time, I liked fashion but had very little money so I decided to make my own dresses with cheap cotton fabric. In those days, I would trace out my tent dress onto the fabric without any measurements and simply sewed using my mother's old paddle singer sewing machine with only straight stitches.
Later when I started working, I attended sewing classes at night after work. It was very tiring to balance both work and sewing but I enjoyed it.
It was only when I was in South Africa that I joined Project Gateway as a volunteer teaching basic sewing at the local community, and that was when I started sewing again. In the UK, I also worked for an Interior Designer. I sewed roman blinds and curtains for them. And now, here I am.
E&S: What led you to giving your 1% back in this form as a volunteer with our sewing single mothers in Celebrating Dreams Initiative? How has this mentoring journey been thus far?
Aunty Helen: Saying yes to E&S Blessing's Celebrating Dreams Initiative was easy as I believe in giving back to the community. In this case, I want and love to share my sewing skills with others who are keen to learn.
The journey has been good thus far. I take pleasure in imparting knowledge and skill to the ladies I mentor. It has been an enjoyable experience to help them. While I give, I am also able to receive. I realise that they are very keen and interested to learn more and to grow their skills. I am always grateful for the time I get to spend with them.
E&S: Aww. We are sure that the ladies you mentor are also very blessed to have you as their mentor too! Before we go, is there any one thing you'd like to share with our mum community at E&S Blessing? As an experienced mum and grandmother yourself, we'd love to hear what's one thing on your heart for all of us ladies who are following your path and footsteps.
Aunty Helen: Try to pursue what you like to do and don't give up. When I was a young full-time mum, I hardly had any time for myself so I packed up all my hobbies. It was a mistake because that would have helped me relaxed and enjoy myself.
It was only much later on when my children were schooling that I had more time to this. It was then that I picked sewing up again and started sewing curtains, bedsheet, pillowcases and covers, etc. I'm thankful that I did not stop since. Now I am a grandmother and I have the privilege to sew clothes and masks for my grand-daughters who live in the UK. It is the best feeling in the world to be able to work on your passions and bless the people around too.
E&S: Thank you so much for sharing your heart and story with us, Aunty Helen! E&S Blessing is very blessed to have you journey with us and you are such a big part of our Celebrating Dreams team. We honour you and appreciate all the work that you do.