Jagajit is a Senior Counsellor at the Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA), an agency that helps to uplift the socio-economic status of communities in Singapore.
In Dad’s Footsteps
My late father arrived in Singapore from India in the 50s. He was not a wealthy man and worked hard throughout his life, taking on various blue-collar jobs to support the family. Growing up, I was taught that despite our frugal conditions, it was important to give back whenever we could.
For example, my family and I would go to the Sikh temple every Sunday to prepare food and serve the congregation. My father inspired me to extend my hand to others whenever I could, and it was this deeply-instilled trait that led me on a path of aiding others.
Pursuing the Drive of Positive Change
I began my career at a government agency as a Trade Information Officer. It was a highly corporate role, but I was also part of the Staff Welfare Committee where we’d organise Corporate Social Responsibility efforts such as raising funds for charities. At the same time, I also volunteered at the Sikh Temple, where I worked with the Youth Group to organise home visits to the vulnerable.
Despite being side-line activities, I thrived in these roles. I was happier when I was at the forefront of helping others, and it was in these instances where I discovered a strong yearning to be in a profession where I could help people full-time.
When the opportunity came to join SINDA’s Youth Development Division as a Facilitator, I seized it eagerly, knowing that this was something I’d wanted to do for a long time.
Stepping into a New Role
In over twenty years, I progressed with the agency, and pursued my Master’s in Counselling and later, Social Work before I became a qualified Counsellor. It’s not been an easy path, but it’s been a deeply fulfilling one. In over two decades, I’ve coordinated empowerment programmes for single mothers, ran projects for students with low self-esteem, and worked with multiple entities to help build well-educated and confident communities.
Today, I’m a Senior Counsellor and work on more complex cases involving youth, families and single mothers. I also mentor a team of supervisees, providing them advice, support and guidance on their own professional journeys. The work we do is important because we play an instrumental role in providing resources and opportunities to families and individuals who may not necessarily have access to them. We also advocate for them by giving them a voice during difficult times.
For example, I was able to help Nadia*, a young woman from India who was charged in Family Court for a criminal offence. Prior to the court date, I had met and counselled her and found that she struggled with several mental health issues. In addition, she had a limited command of English so it was difficult for her to seek help.
Nadia was summoned to court because a family misunderstanding had led her mother-in-law to report her to the authorities. Scared, confused, and unaware of her rights, she was referred to SINDA where I worked closely with Nadia and her lawyer through her trial.
Recognising that she had mental health issues, I referred her for psychiatric assessment where she was diagnosed with post-natal blues. During the court date, I was also able to speak and advocate on her behalf before the judge, which helped her case immensely. Instead of being incarcerated for three years, my client received mandated psychiatric counselling for a year, which was beneficial not just to her mental health, but to her future as well.
Since then, I’ve been fortunate to play a role in many similar cases. One of the most surprising developments, however, has been discovering that my own daughter also wished to join social service at a young age.
Joining the Cause
I’m not sure how or when it happened, but along the way, my teenage daughter approached me and said, “Ma, I want to make a difference in someone’s life,” much like how I did. Honestly, I was baffled. She said she had watched me advocate for my clients, and was inspired to do the same. This was both humbling and heartening to hear.
Today, my daughter is a Therapist working with children with special needs and is pursuing her Master’s in Special Education. As both a mother and social service professional, I couldn’t be more proud.
*The client’s name has been changed to protect their privacy.
A role in Counselling is one of many roles in social service. To find out more, click here.