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Bibliotherapy at Pertapis – A Reflection

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On July 30th, 2010, it was exactly 9.30 am as we stepped into Pertapis – Home for Women and Children.

Amidst the tense atmosphere, last minute briefings were given. Nervousness could be felt even though, we all clearly knew how excited we all were. The entire session kicked off with a short briefing session to provide a clear overview of what the entire Bibliotherapy session will be about. This is then followed by getting them into groups of about 5 or 6 and settling them down to begin the ice breaker session. Giving them the ultimate choice of revealing or veiling their identities, they are allowed to use nicknames instead of their real names. Shortly after the short introduction among each member of the group, the reading and sharing session commenced.

In light of READ! Singapore, the book ‘Diari Hitam’ or ‘Black Diary’ was used in this session. Participants shared their thoughts regarding their favorite story from the anthology and expressed various comments regarding specific story. Such comments include how real a particular story felt and how much she can relate to the situation as written in the story. In such a short period of time, groups managed to foster some bonding among the facilitators and the girls. We then move on to the next part of the session in which participants will have to produce a poem as well as an illustration to accompany the poem. Creative juices were quenched in this part of the session as some groups went to the extent of not only producing individual product but a group product as well. Even though, the time frame provided for this activity was too long, it managed to cater to certain individuals who needed a little bit more time to get their work completed.

From the facilitators’ side, all of us agreed that this part of the session was a very vital one as it gives a platform for the participants to pour out emotions and express feelings which they have kept inside for so long. Some of the poems produced were based on true stories whilst others take this opportunity to express their love and gratitude to their loved ones whom they miss dearly. It is also through this we realized that majority of the girls are really talented and artistic. This can be seen by the wonderful art pieces that they managed to produce in such a short period of time. It is clear that the girls enjoyed the session and has benefited from it. Some even asked if we were coming back the following week, making it seem much more meaningful for us.

Later, we held a sharing session whereby all the participants shared a little bit about their respective work while some even read out their poems to everyone. It was a bit emotional but nonetheless everyone had a lot of fun displaying their proud work to fellow mates. The session finally punctuated with a debriefing session before everyone tucked in for lunch. It is undeniable that this session has been a fruitful and meaningful one. The girls were not the only one who benefited from the session; the facilitators also had their share of learning something new through this.

** This entry is a reflection from one of our Belia ASAS, Shahirah Samsudin. She is currently a student at Nanyang Technological University – National Institute of Education.