VOLUNTEER | Karen Lee, ICC Vocational Training Project Manager
Originally from Singapore, Karen Lee oversees ICC’s Vocational Training Programmes in Hunan province.
Karen joined ICC in May, 2014 and has been a leader in developing programmes for young people with disabilities. Starting with Flowers in the Desert project, she helped young people living in ICC’s community homes to expand their abilities and engage in enjoyable, creative work. They design and assemble a wide range of jewellery, ornaments and crafts, earning money from the sale of their handiwork. Flowers in the Desert even started their own online store!
Karen turned her attention to other challenges, launching the Little Ark in 2019.
More Little Arks are scheduled to be added this year in Changsha and later in the city of Hengyang.
Little Ark, a mobile food truck, stationed within the government welfare centre complex in Changsha. Pictured here is Karen Lee (back row, third from left) with the Little Ark team.
Recently Karen has been a leader in expanding ICC’s Vocational Training Programme. This ambitious project will not only provide opportunities for the young people in ICC’s care, but also will open doors for people in the Changsha community. Many young people living with their families don’t have the opportunity to learn skills or reach their potential because of a lack of programmes. ICC’s Vocational Training Programme will provide hundreds of young people with the chance to reach their God-given potential.
How did you first become involved with ICC?
A friend, Mei Koh, was working in ICC. I’m always inspired by her stories of ICC’s work. Thus in 2014, I joined ICC and very quickly found my place working with the young adults in the group homes.
What sort of activities are you involved in on a weekly basis?
To be honest, most of the time I’m in meetings! I’m mostly seen with the young adults in the craft room. Now, I work closely in Little Ark. I work pretty smoothly with the local staff, basically because of similarities in culture and language.
With Flowers in the Desert and the Little Ark project, what has been the highlight for you while working with the young people so far?
The highlight for me is discovering the potential in every one of these young people.
They have been working in Flowers in the Desert, ICC Vocational Training Centre. I tried to think out of the box, look into other skills, visited different organisations. I have observed the young adults’ capabilities, some are more capable while some are suitable in certain things. So I began to pull them out into the new project, Little Ark which gives them a platform to interact with the public.
Karen leads one of ICC Vocational Training projects, Flowers in the Desert, a craft workshop for the young adults at ICC Care Centre.
What kind of opportunities do you hope this will bring as you continue to develop the ICC Vocational Training Programmes?
I hope that more people with disabilities can be trained with employability skills, so that they can make a way in their lives. It helps them to nurture a love for what they are contributing to society, not to refrain from the public but boldly and proudly representing people with disabilities, that they are part of the society. It gives them hope to train and use their skills, hope to look forward in life. It creates job opportunity.
Personally, what surprised you the most while living in China?
I learned much more about contentment, happiness, gratefulness from the people with disabilities. I received more than I gave!