daughters of tomorrow zarina abdul rahman

Daughters Of Tomorrow was a name Zarina Abdul Rahman often heard at the women’s shelter. She was referred to the shelter in 2017 to seek refuge for family violence.  

Throughout her marriage of more than a decade, Zarina experienced both physical and mental violence. Her ex-husband not only constantly hit and belittled her but also threatened to take their two daughters away from her. All this continued after the couple had separated but continued to live together “because he didn’t want to shift out”.

“I always felt ashamed so I never shared with anyone what was happening,” she continues. “I kept to myself because I didn’t want others to realise that I was being hit at home.”  

One morning, Zarina went to the office but her manager noticed that she couldn’t walk straight. It was only then that she revealed she’d been attacked by her ex-husband. Zarina was checked into the hospital for treatment. After her discharge, at the referral of a social worker, she moved into the shelter.

“A friend here shared with me about the work of Daughters Of Tomorrow,” says Zarina. “It could help women find jobs and support them through services such as befriending and childminding. So I decided to seek assistance.”

Founded in 2014, Daughters Of Tomorrow has supported more than 1,100 women in Singapore through skills training, job bridging and befriending programmes. These women come from families that earn between $200 and $650 per month, and struggle to break out of unemployment and poverty.

Among them, 82% have secondary school education or lower, and 44% are single mothers. They haven’t been able to access employment due to factors such as lack of confidence, practical support, and awareness.

“The journey can be very tough”, as Zarina Abdul Rahman admits, “but whenever you feel like giving up, just look at your children.” She has been working as an office coordinator for two years.

By connecting beneficiaries like Zarina to accessible job opportunities, Daughters Of Tomorrow wants to help them fulfil their potential, and enable upward social mobility for low-income families.

So after finalising her divorce and leaving the shelter in 2019, Zarina decided she had to work hard to build a new future for herself and her two daughters, now aged 20 and 12. Through Daughters Of Tomorrow, she got an internship. Three months later, she was offered a full-time job.

“I attended the DOT Confidence Curriculum in January 2022. I found the workshops very useful. Although I have a permanent job, I believe the new skills I learnt have opened my horizons.”

Now 41, Zarina works as an office coordinator in a recruitment agency. Here, she handles administrative duties such as coordinating meeting schedules and checking office supplies, as well as support marketing events. “I enjoy this job,” she says. “It requires me to be hardworking, meticulous, pay attention to details, and communicate well with people. I want to do well here.”

How did Daughters Of Tomorrow make your time at the women’s shelter easier?

I first knew about Daughters Of Tomorrow in 2017, when I was living in the women’s shelter with my younger daughter (while my older girl was staying in a children’s home).

I had to send her to school in Tampines every morning, go to work in Outram, and go to Tampines to fetch her every evening so we could return to the shelter in Lavender together. The commute in the evening was tough for both of us as it was rush hour and traffic jams meant she often spent over an hour waiting for me at the school student care centre.

Finally, after two years, I contacted Daughters Of Tomorrow about its childminding programme, and they very quickly worked something out for me. It was a welcome breather my daughter and I appreciated very much.

However, I had to stop using the childminding service after 1 month due to financial constraint. My divorce proceedings had begun, which meant I had legal fees to pay; I felt we should save on childminding, which cost $10 a day.  

Daughters Of Tomorrow continued to reach out to you even after you left the shelter.

Yes, that’s right. I always had no time to attend the workshops they organised at the shelter as I was busy working, caring for my kids, and settling my divorce. But the team didn’t forget me – and even helped to connect me with Randstad Sourceright, which offered me an internship in 2019.

I hadn’t planned to quit my old job in healthcare but I was excited by the prospect of exploring a new industry like human resources. So I gave it my best shot! After three months, my boss offered me a permanent position, with a salary higher than that at my previous job.

The financial stability has allowed me to continue to put my daughters through school – my elder one is in polytechnic and my younger one in primary school. And this year I managed to purchase a 3-room HDB flat – we lived in a rental flat before this – and I look forward to carving out a new future for us.   

Daughters Of Tomorrow has built a strong community for its beneficiaries. Can you tell me more about how being part of this community strengthens you?

I attended the DOT Confidence Curriculum in January 2022. I found the workshops very useful. Although I have a permanent job, I believe the new skills I learnt have opened my horizons. For example, I understand now how to prepare and present myself better during interviews. All this not only helps to improve my current skillsets but also expand my job opportunities. I have become more positive about my future.       

Attending the DOT Confidence Curriculum was a turning point in my life. I got to know other women who were trying to build a better future for themselves and their families. It provides us with a safe environment to share our experiences with and offer support to one another. We set up a group chat and still keep in touch – if there are job opportunities, we also share with one another here. It’s a great networking platform!

How do you plan to pay it forward?

Since my schedule is very tight, I haven’t been able to partake in volunteer activities. I look forward to a chance to teach baking to other beneficiaries. Sometimes I bake Nutella tarts, which I have sold. I have taught this recipe to women at the shelter – and some of them have made it a business. I’m very happy this little hobby has helped made their lives better.

But I hope to encourage others to persevere in their dream by sharing my experiences with them. The journey can be very tough but whenever you feel like giving up, just look at your children. That was how I kept myself going.

You can help to empower women and enable families through various programmes: Befriender, Volunteer Childminder, Supportive Employer, Poverty Sensitisation Workshops, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Donation/Fundraising. Find out more about these opportunities at Daughters of Tomorrow here.

Photography: Studio Aeonz
Set Styling and Creative Direction: BDVA
Clothing and Accessories: Interviewee’s own
Makeup and Hair: Fifty Shades Makeup Academy
Products: COTY Inc.