Hardship to heart work: 22-year-old’s journey of cultivating youth volunteerism
Hannah Batrisyia holds a small hope in her heart - to rally her peers to join her cause.
In celebration of Youth Month, Youthopia is highlighting stories of youth who have created spark in their life. Hannah Batrisyia, 22, shares how she finds fulfilment in empowering other youths to volunteer.
For most youths, heading to town over the weekend typically involves window shopping or meeting up with friends for brunch. However, for 22-year-old Hannah Batrisyia, going to Orchard has a different purpose altogether – participating in volunteer programmes at The Red Box.
Currently a second year Sociology undergraduate at Nanyang Technological University, Hannah studies how one’s family can affect their life trajectory. This has made her cognisant of the value of intervention and helping less fortunate children build a strong foundation.
“As a child grows up, they always remember those who impacted their life the most so I think that’s very very important,” says Hannah.
But what truly drives her in the social causes space is very much a personal story.
Coming from an underprivileged background, she carries the weight of the hardships she experienced as a child. She’s also noticed that children from her type of background would fall within the gaps of society.
“(I saw) how receiving help from the community can really change someone’s life…the community has given so much to me so I want to give back more.”
Her journey started as early as primary school when she’d do tin donations. Fast forward to now, despite her hectic school schedule, she actively volunteers with Youth Corps Singapore. She participated in programmes like Mission X, a community service leadership programme that brings together student leaders from the different Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs).
Meant to promote youth volunteerism, Mission X teaches participants the ropes of planning impactful community service projects and effective volunteer management.
As a participant in the program’s pilot run, Hannah’s journey came full circle when she returned as a Squad Mentor for the 27th batch. Her role was to offer guidance to the student leaders and help them harness their potential.
“I listen to their stories and add on to what they can achieve even more. When the (participants) come up to me and tell me what they’re interested in, I will let them know what they can do to elevate their skills,” she shares, adding that as Mission X is the gateway for individuals to join the community, it’s crucial for facilitators like herself to provide a supportive environment.
Hannah fondly recounts her experience working with a group of ITE students, completely mesmerised by their passion to serve.
“I’m glad that they realised their capabilities to push themselves,” she says. “I’m not there to teach, I’m there to just make them realise how much they can do.”
Despite being so active in the volunteering space, Hannah also has her moments of self-doubt and often questions if she’s doing enough for the community.
Previously, she volunteered for a children-centric program called Kids Count, which seeks to bridge developmental gaps in numeracy among lower primary students from disadvantaged families through educational activities.
Hannah initially served as the Parent Engagement in-charge, ensuring open lines of communication with participants’ parents and addressing their concerns. However, after the first run, she yearned to challenge herself further, feeling that she hadn’t achieved as much as she could.
She eventually volunteered to be the assistant in-charge of the whole team, curating the programme flow and advising other volunteers on how to tweak their lesson plans. While things went well, in retrospect, it was a struggle for her as the jump in job scope was quite big.
Thankfully, now that she has eased into the community and created her own “rhythm and flow”, she’s able to smoothly navigate those moments of uncertainty. She regrounds herself by remembering that there are always opportunities to serve and that she can progress at her own pace.
To navigate these internal challenges, as well as for the sake of her own mental wellbeing, she takes frequent breaks. She does her best to manage her time by prioritising the most immediate projects, and also makes daily, weekly and monthly to-do lists to hold herself accountable.
“If you want to learn to serve the community, you have to learn to serve yourself.”
A recent milestone for Hannah in her volunteering journey was during the Youth Corps Leader Programme (YCLP) Commencement Ceremony earlier this year, when President Halimah Yacob commended her for being an “exemplary Youth Corps Leader”.
Hearing Mdm Halimah call out her name “felt like a fever dream”, and reaffirmed her belief that she should keep at her work.
“If someone as notable and as prestigious as her can recognise youths’ effort, I want more youths to be able to know that they can achieve the best for themselves.”
As Hannah continues to make waves in the community, she holds a small hope in her heart – to cultivate a culture of volunteering among her peers by rallying them to join her cause.
And to those hesitant to start, she advises: “I always say to my youths, no matter how small of a step forward, it is a step forward from where you were. Don’t always assume that you will have to do so much. You can do it slowly, at your own pace.”
Read about why other youths are volunteering:
- Developing a passion to serve the community after an eye-opening trip
- Finding friends with a common cause for serving children
- How serving the special needs community helped her find her calling
- Inspired by the ones who helped him through his darkest days
- Transforming her life struggles into a source of strength
- Creating ripples of change for sustainability through volunteering
- Bridging the gap between sports and those with special needs