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When the big hearts at Bukit Arang gave Ang Mo Kio children a home after the fire

Updated: Feb 22


When the fire at LOT AMK happened, our first priority was the children’s well-being. Where would they go to school and have lessons now? How would they feel about the entire incident? With LOT Bukit Arang (BAR) being relatively close by and having a larger space available in the school, plans were made for children to be transported there every day until restoration works were completed at AMK. Despite having their usual routines disrupted, Bukit Arang team welcomed the AMK team and children with big hearts and open arms. Those 2-3 weeks turned out to be an unexpected blessing in disguise for both schools. Esther, Vice-Principal at Bukit Arang, recounted, “I was shocked and worried when I first heard about the fire. I prayed and hoped that no one got hurt during the process, and wanted to see where I could offer my help. After all, we are one big Little Olive Tree family, so we saw this as an opportunity to work with our AMK counterparts. Having them at Bukit Arang surely made our campus more lively and exciting.” Ms Anita, K2 teacher shared how the BAR team was a blessing to AMK. They welcomed the AMK team so that within 48 hours, they could start school again. Every morning when they arrived, every teacher would greet her with a smile, and tell their students to say good morning to the AMK teachers and their new friends. “The BAR team never once made us feel like we were just visitors. They made us feel that we are part of their family,” she said.

The BAR team never once made us feel like we were just visitors. They made us feel that we are part of their family.

In order to accommodate all the children from both schools, BAR managed to arrange their classes to take up only half of the usual space they use for lessons. “我们把课室的一半分享给AMK 学校的K2班,中间有一赌隔音板,虽然有些拥挤,但是大家互相包容和帮助,感觉一切都会好起来的。| For my class, we shared half of our classroom space with the AMK K2 class, with a soundproof panel separating us. Though it was a bit of a squeeze, everyone was accommodating and helpful, so it was all good.”- Yang Laoshi, K2 teacher from BAR.



Even though AMK brought some of their resources along, they still needed more. The BAR teachers allocated time for the AMK teachers to use their learning materials so that the children could still learn in an optimal environment. BAR teachers even went the extra mile to help AMK to wash the toys they had brought over to ease their burdens.


“The atmosphere in Bukit Arang became more energetic with the arrival of the AMK staff and children. Our centre welcomed them warmly and shared our space, materials and time. The AMK team developed their temporary schedule around ours, so the learning and routine of our children were unaffected,” recalled Teacher Gae, K2 Teacher from BAR.


During lunchtime, we catered food for the AMK children since the kitchen was already being used to prepare food for the BAR children, so as to ensure that both schools could have meals on time. Aunty Alice, Cook at LOT AMK shared, “Working at Bukit Arang, I had to respect the space that belonged to others. However, the cook at BAR gave me time to prepare my fruits and tea break for the children.”


Well, how did the children react to this new schedule and change in location? Apart from being curious about whether their school would be back to normal again soon, the AMK children were ecstatic to head to BAR everyday! They loved being on the bus as they treated it as an excursion - talking, laughing and singing happily during the ride!

They really enjoyed being in the space at Bukit Arang, with the individual rooms for different classes and facilities such as the playground and dedicated spaces for water play and paddle play. Most of all, they actually loved that the whole place was air-conditioned all day.  


For the BAR children, they were very excited to see the AMK children for the first time. Ciara (K2) would ask, “When can we play with our new friends? Can they join our class? Can we visit them in their new school?” while K2 Rudransh said, “I wish we can dance and play with them in our gym.”


They also expressed their fascination everyday as they observed the buses bringing the AMK children in and out of the school. It became a talking point for them and they always anticipated the arrival of their ‘Ang Mo Kio friends’. “They are so lucky, they can ride the bus everyday coming here!” Caleb (K1) would exclaim.


Through this experience of hosting AMK,  Teacher Gae learnt to be compassionate and that we should always feel motivated to alleviate any suffering around us - especially within our big family.


“I am grateful and appreciative of how BAR is blessed with great space and materials that we could share with others. It was delightful to mingle with other colleagues from AMK. I am thankful to all the leaders in HQ, AMK and BAR who worked tirelessly to make sure the transition was smooth and all the needs of the staff and children were addressed,” she shared.


“I am grateful and appreciative of how BAR is blessed with great space and materials that we could share with others. It was delightful to mingle with other colleagues from AMK. I am thankful to all the leaders in HQ, AMK and BAR who worked tirelessly to make sure the transition was smooth and all the needs of the staff and children were addressed."

On their last day of school at BAR, AMK held an appreciation ceremony to thank the BAR teachers and children for their wonderful hospitality. The AMK children performed a song and wrote cards for their friends and teachers at BAR. As they said their goodbyes, they looked forward to meeting each other again one day!




Beatriz, Vice-Principal of AMK expressed, “I thank the Bukit Arang family and the church for opening their school for us, which we are very grateful for. They have given us the space to continue educating the children and shared their resources with teachers and the children. They were accommodating and reached out to us to ask if we needed help.”


Aunty Alice, Cook at LOT AMK shared, “The cook from BAR, Aunty Monica, is now my friend. I found out I am just one month older than her! I sent her good wishes during Lunar New Year, and we sometimes talk or message each other.”


The friendships forged between the staff and children in both AMK and BAR will only grow stronger in time to come, and gratitude for the grace and kindness received will always remain in their hearts. The team at BAR has truly shown what being a family is – being there in times of need, being sacrificial in giving, and most importantly, having unconditional love. 

Read the entire 3-part series here:

Part 1: Thanksgiving Part 2: Community: Where fire destroys, Love Restores Part 3: Big hearts at Bukit Arang (Current Article)



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