More than a Blog Contest
Parents, children and educators alike turned up in full force for the DadsforLife Blog Contest Award Ceremony held at the National Library Building on 12 June 2010. With a free photo booth, goodie bags, and the winners’ entries proudly on display, the event was a lively way to show all the fathers some appreciation.
Part of the DadsforLife movement, the objective of the contest (Voices of Children) was simple – to encourage children to express how they feel about Dad. The result was entries that were honest, sincere, and all heartbreakingly earnest.
From a staggering 678 entries from 52 different primary and secondary schools, the entries were shortlisted by judges and put to the vote to decide the top 15 and 10 winners from the primary and secondary section respectively.
These winners each won a Nintendo Wii. And on top of that, the Grand Prize Winner of each section, won their respective schools, a Future Classroom – an IRT Lab.
“I wanted it to be a surprise.” Noor Adilah (Daughter)
Not surprisingly, father Mr Mohamad Rafey, could not have been more pleased.
“The fact that she was shortlisted already made me very happy,” said the 41-year-old. “I didn’t expect her to win.”
Mr Rafey only found out that Adilah was entering such a contest when he saw her writing it. “I didn’t let him read my entry,” divulged Adilah. “I wanted it to be a surprise.”
Watching Adilah and her dad together, there is no doubt that the two share a special relationship. Mr Rafey said, “Adilah is very forthcoming. We’re definitely close and she shares everything that happens in her life with me.”
Words of affection and gestures of love are commonplace in their family as Adilah has testified in her entry. “It’s something of a second nature for us,” explained Mr Rafey. “Words like I love you and hugs and kisses, these things are done automatically.”
Of course such a close bond does not come overnight and Mr Rafey recognizes that. “When Adilah has anything on, I make it a point to attend. I always have dinners with the family and on weekends, we hang out or play board games.” Such quality time spent allows Mr Rafey to bond with Adilah and his elder son, Adam.
“I want to be a role model to them.” Mr Mohamad Rafey (Dad)
Noor Adilah and her dad are also living proof of the saying that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. “She takes after me quite a bit,” laughed Mr Rafey.
He said, “The most similar personality trait we have in common is probably how passionate she is about her opinions, feelings and everything else. With age I’ve toned down quite a bit, but she reminds me a lot of when I was young.”
And while most children look up to their dads as their personal hero, Mr Rafey doesn’t really see himself that way. With an abashed smile he said, “I don’t see myself as a hero to my children but what I want to be is a role model to them.”
What he hopes to impart to his children are important life lessons such as to “always keep trying.” Said Mr Rafey emphatically, “I want to let them know that it is possible to do anything. Be resilient even in the face of difficulties and never let anything bring you down.”
Jun Yuan Primary’s Support for Blog Contest
Aside from doing her father proud, Adilah has also succeeded in bringing recognition to her school. Said Mdm Law Li Mei, principal of Jun Yuan Primary School, “When we came to know that Adilah was shortlisted, we generated publicity and rallied the school to vote for her.”
Teachers at Jun Yuan Primary School had encouraged their students to enter the contest as part of reflections towards their fathers. “It’s given students the opportunity to talk about their fathers, a chance that they probably would not have had without this contest,” added Mdm Law.
True Courage in Both Dad & Child
While Noor Adilah’s entry spoke of the bond she has with her dad, there were other entries that also tugged at the heartstrings of the public and judges. One of them came from Phua Qin Hui from the Secondary Section. The secondary four student from Orchid Park Secondary School described how painful it was to see her dad suffer for the family.
Despite already working two jobs, he had to take on an extra job as a driver to pay for her brother’s treatment when he was diagnosed with Chron’s disease in 2008. Said Mr Phua Kwee Wah, “I had no idea she felt that way until I read the blog entry. I feel that she’s grown up and is no longer the small girl she used to be.”
Qin Hui’s form teacher, Josephine Mary, observed, “This has been a real confidence booster for her. Despite her shy disposition, she was still able to excel. I’m proud of her for the kind of courage she has to take part.”
Playful, Thoughtful & Full of Thanks
For some fathers such as Mr Ang Eng Guen, it was a welcome surprise to have his son, Ang Wei Xiang, from Pasir Ris Secondary become one of the winners. Describing the secondary two student as “quite playful,” Mr Ang said,” I didn’t expect him to feel so much emotion deep inside and write about it. I think this is quite a drastic change in him, he has matured.”
A Way to Appreciate Dad
Similarly, Mr Eric Goh, father of Goh Yan Da from Kent Ridge Secondary School came to understand his son better after reading his blog entry. “I’ve come to realize better his untiring love, even though he does not always express it openly.”
Explained Yan Da, “I always wanted to show my appreciation for my dad,” said the secondary two student. “Sometimes I’m more shy so this was a good way for me to express my feelings.” He entered the contest after noticing a promotional poster in his school.
An Opportunity to Articulate
Grand prize winner of the Secondary section, Sara Salman Baladram of Crescent Girls’ School, feels her life “wouldn’t be as blessed as it is now” if it weren’t for her dad.
Said the secondary two student, “It just feels great to win such amazing prizes just because I wrote a piece of my heart on how much I love my dad. This contest is something I will never forget and I want to say thank you to the DadsforLife programme and also to my dad for being the dad everyone wants to have.”
Crescent Girls’ Support for Blog Contest
Usha Jeyarajah, Head of Department of English in Cresent Girls’ School summed it up nicely, “The contest has given Sara an opportunity to articulate what she might not have otherwise articulated.”
Cresent Girls’ School enlisted the help of form teachers to encourage students to join the contest and made use of their online portal to advertise it.
While every relationship between a father and child differs, one thing is certain: there is an undeniable bond that exists between them, a bond of love and a willingness to sacrifice.
When words are not enough, one can always count on actions to speak volumes. And when even that fails, take Jim Valvano’s words, “My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: he believed in me.”
About the Author: The DadsforLife Resource Team comprises local content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals, dedicated to developing useful resources for dads.
First published on 02-06-2011
Categories: Dads' Stories