Collin Wee, a life dedicated to young people in Singapore’s "Hope House"
The De la Salle Brother works in the home for poor and abandoned children, victims of the city-state’s ultra-competitive society. Bullying, violence, alcohol abuse, and neglect the most common plagues. His only reward "is when I can reinsert them into society."
Singapore (AsiaNews / Agencies) – “When I’m able to re-integrate my boys back into society or with their families, that’s reward in itself " says De la Salle brother Collin Wee, 58, who has spent his life working at "HopeHouse", an oasis built in the Archdiocese of Singapore and managed by a lay congregation. There boys with no future are housed, educated and helped to find their vocation.
It was the desire to serve the least among us that pushed Collin to join the De la Salle Brothers, but his vocation did not come immediately. After completing his Singaporean National Service in 1978, he started working at the Ministry of Social Affairs as a volunteer in the youth sector. Later he realized that "I could do more in favor of the boys if I became a full-time brother".
Collin already knew the La Salle Brothers, having attended St. Patrick and St. Stephen Catholic schools. "There was a brother there - he says - William Muir, who used to talk to me and my friends and discuss how the poor lived around our school. We students were struck by his love for the needy and the least. This attracted me to the La Salle community".
The decision to enter into the congregation was not easy, he said, "because I was the only son of my family and my sisters helped me to look after my parents while I left for my formation”, he said. “It wasn’t easy for me or my sisters, but coming from a Catholic family, I believe it was their belief in the faith that allowed me to go".
Collin began his formation in 1982 in Penang, Malaysia, where he remained for two years. When he returned home, he served in the St. Patrick School chapel and took final vows in 1996. He has been working in "HopeHouse" for years, the structure founded by the congregation and recognized by the government in 2011. It aims to host and give support to children and teenagers, often victims of the difficulties of families in the ultra-competitive society of Singapore. Bullying, violence, alcohol abuse and abandonment are the most common plagues.
In "House of Hope" explains Collin, "we pursue a secular nature of work, which is, however, the extension of Lasallian spirituality that educates the mind transforming the heart." Not long ago, brother Collin says, "one of our boys, aged 23, met a girl and got engaged. I went to meet her and I spoke there, as would a parent. Both were ready for marriage and so were married in HopeHouse. The other young people served as waiters during the reception! ".