Imagine this: You’re ill and home-bound because of it. With no other option, you spend your days wasting away, engaging in mind-numbing activities to pass the time.
For many home-bound individuals, this is their daily reality.
Blythe Chong, founder of social enterprise JourneySG, makes it her mission to help them. While JourneySG primarily promotes self-care for caretakers, an opportune encounter led Blythe on a tangent to pursue another initiative – Journey Works.
Journey Works aims to provide meaningful employment for end-of-life patients, while promoting self-care for both themselves and their caretakers.
The plan first came into fruition when she met a candle-maker. While speaking with him, she realized that these patients could also make their own candles and sell them. By providing them with the materials and handling the logistics, Blythe had found a way to provide them with employment.
Blythe shares with us a poignant story of a little boy who has been home-bound for the past 2-3 years due to health conditions. Unable to attend school, the boy became withdrawn, and did not speak at all – not even with his own mother.
Approximately a year back, Blythe engaged him to start producing candles. Since then, the boy’s mother shared with gratitude that he is now much happier. Most important of all is that mother and son are now communicating regularly, a stark difference from before.
While the work is no doubt meaningful, Blythe acknowledges that challenges are both logistical and emotional.
Transportation and ingredient costs are hefty. Even so, she ensures that all patients are paid fairly by the hour, operating on a system of trust where patients report the number of hours they have worked, and get paid accordingly. They have no quotas to meet, and are free to work at their own time.
While this leaves a meagre profit margin, Blythe remarks that “this initiative is less of monetary returns, and more of helping them feel useful.”
Despite the inevitable heartache that accompanies working with this demographic, Blythe finds fulfillment in giving them hope where it is hard to come by. Oftentimes, these patients don’t need sympathy or pity. Rather, they need us to provide them with the opportunity to be useful and engage in meaningful work.
Through Journey Works, Blythe is providing these patients with a light at the end of their journey, even while they make candles that gives light to others.