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UNSAID | Grandmother Story
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GRANDMOTHER STORY: Singapore Through Her Eyes

Her Story, Our History.

‘Grandmother Story’ is a collection of stories and portraits of elderly Singaporean women. The series revisits Singapore’s history, and relives the Singapore Story through women’s perspectives.

 

The name ‘Grandmother Story’ references the commonly used Singaporean phrase and subverts its originally dismissive nuance, turning it into something positive and empowering.

What are the objectives of this project?

‘Grandmother Story’ hopes to achieve the following:

  • Document the stories of elderly women

  • Increase the interest in stories of Singapore’s past

  • Increase respect/admiration for elderly women

  • Increase conversation between generations

Why is there the need to document these stories?

Singapore has an entire generation’s worth of stories just waiting to be shared, yet no one is hearing them. We know Singapore’s history through facts (from textbooks), but they do not show the personal, human side to our history.

In Singapore, we currently have two generations with vastly different life experiences co-existing. While the younger generation enjoys peacetime and the benefits that it entails, the older generation suffered through war, and not only witnessed, but also went through the development of Singapore from third world to first.

 

Singaporeans are still able to listen to these stories first hand, from the very generation that lived through those experiences. These are experiences that Singapore will never go through again. If we do not document these stories today, in three or four decades, they will be lost forever.

 

The importance of documentation lies in its contribution to building the Singapore identity. Singapore is young, and thus the country’s history and stories will be based on none other than the stories of those who went through its formative years. These stories serve as oral history, and if our generation does not care to keep and document them, they will be lost.

Why focus on elderly Singaporean women?

Singapore’s history as we know it today is mainly attributed to strong, male characters who spearheaded the Singapore success story. While the men were the decision makers in that generation, it was the women who were the ones who dealt with the ramifications of said decisions. Women were relegated to the backseat, taking on a passive role in society, and were neither given a say, nor a platform to do so. More importantly, there was a general disregard of the opinions of women. Women had little to no say in Parliament, where there were long periods of lacklustre female representation with either a weak presence, or an absence entirely for a period of 14 years from 1970 to 1984.

Today, the modern woman has a prominent voice in society, or at least a bigger, more substantial one. ‘Grandmother Story’ is a platform and channel to empower the women of the older generation to share their stories, and for them to be heard, especially so in a society that will no longer dismiss them.

Who is the project looking to feature?

‘Grandmother Story’ seeks to feature Singaporean women above the age of 55, who have stories they wish to share. They may include their perspectives on the following events:

 

Event Year Current Age*
The introduction of HDB; shifting from slums and kampongs to HDBs. 1964 55 and above
Japanese occupation of Singapore during World War II 1942 to 1945 80 and above
Maria Hertogh riots 1950 (11 – 13 September) 70 and above
Riots by pro-communist Chinese school students 1956 (October) 65 and above
People’s Action Party (PAP) wins the General Election. Lee Kuan Yew becomes the first Prime Minister. 1959 (May) 65 (62) and above
Bukit Ho Swee Fire 1961 (May) 60 and above
Ethnic riot between various Malays and Chinese, on Prophet Muhammad’s birthday 1964 (July) 60 (57) and above
The issue of the first Singapore Dollar 1967 (June) 55 (54) and above
The first batch of the army is drafted for national service. 1967 (July) 55 (54) and above
General stories: Transportation NA 55 and above
General stories: Food NA 55 and above
General stories: Schools/Education NA 55 and above
General stories: Military NA 55 and above
General stories: Communication NA 55 and above
General stories: Love/Marriage NA 55 and above
General stories: Family NA 55 and above
General stories: Life in general NA 55 and above
General stories: Kampong lifestyle NA 55 and above
General stories: Employment NA 55 and above
I'm interested in this project. How can I contribute?

The team behind ‘Grandmother Story’ will appreciate it greatly if you’re able to contribute to the project in any way. We are currently in need of the following people:

 

  1. Translator, both spoken and written (Chinese, Malay, Tamil, Dialects, etc)

  2. Volunteer

  3. Video Crew and Video Editor

  4. Creative Team

  5. Transport Crew

  6. Copywriters

Who do I contact for more information?