Helping couples and newly-weds prepare for marriage and family life, optimising maternal wellness and child development

Singapore, 21 March 2021 – Newly-wed couples can look forward to enhanced upstream support for marriage and family life, maternal wellness and child development with the newly-launched Temasek Foundation Achieving Resilient and Inspiring Families (Project ARIF). The pilot programme is a collaboration among Temasek Foundation, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) and the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) as part of the Bersamamu1 (With You) Programme, an initiative by the Registry of Muslim Marriages (ROMM) under the M3 framework.

Temasek Foundation Project ARIF aims to support up to 800 couples in forming strong and stable families and in nurturing the next generation. The programme was launched earlier today at Masjid Yusof Ishak by Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development.

Under this two-year pilot programme, newly-wed couples will receive religious, marital, medical and parenting guidance from a team of Naib Kadi (deputy marriage solemnisers of Muslim marriages) and mosque personnel, as well as healthcare professionals from KKH in the first two years of their marriage. Newly-wed couples who have solemnised or will be doing so between 2020 and 2022 are encouraged to participate in Temasek Foundation Project ARIF. The programme comes at no cost to participants.

Since October 2020, Project ARIF has been supporting 84 couples. Among them, 24 couples have received closer follow-up. Where necessary, they were also referred to the relevant community agencies for additional support services, such as smoking cessation programmes or specialised counselling programmes. Mr Richard Magnus, Deputy Chairman of Temasek Foundation and Chairman of Temasek Foundation Cares, said, “This pilot Temasek Foundation Achieving Resilient and Inspiring Families (Project ARIF) programme is a practical framework to provide early support to couples to maximise the family’s health and social outcomes. Through this community-based approach to building families and supporting women in health, nutrition and child development, parents will be empowered to raise a healthier generation of children.”

Temasek Foundation Project ARIF adopts a collaborative whole-of-community approach to support newly-weds and their families. In addition to the close collaboration among partners such as Temasek Foundation, KKH, Muis, and M3 agencies, four mosques in the North Mosque Cluster will be participating centres in this pilot programme to maximise outreach and facilitate early intervention for couples in the community. The mosques are Masjid An-Nur (Marsiling), Masjid Yusof Ishak (Woodlands), Masjid Darul Makmur (Yishun) and Masjid Assyafaah (Sembawang). Each mosque is assigned a team of Naib Kadi, mosque asatizah (religious teachers) and a project administrator to coordinate a couple’s marriage journey.

To expand the capabilities of these mosques, KKH and Muis have been conducting training sessions for the team of nine Naib Kadi and mosque personnel from these participating mosques. The training covers the roles of Naib Kadi, couple engagement strategies and the referral processes for couples who may require case management assistance at the mosques. Developed by KKH, the training curriculum also covers these topics:

  • Health, nutrition and maternal mental health;
  • Family life and parenting;
  • How to identify and classify at-risk couples according to risk and needs;
  • Support resources available in the community; and
  • Conducting motivational interviews and relationship-building.

A training guide for Naib Kadi and a comprehensive resource booklet for participating couples have also been developed. The resource booklet developed by KKH will guide couples in optimising their marital health and family wellness. KKH plans to organise webinars and other engagement sessions to equip couples with knowledge on topics related to marriage and family life.

Mr Mohd Helmy Isa, Senior Director, Mosque and Community Development, Muis, said, “For a long time, Muslim couples in Singapore have benefited from the strong support provided by the community partners, especially through M³, to better prepare them for marriage and family life. Temasek Foundation Project ARIF will complement the existing support system for couples. We are confident that the collaboration with partners, particularly the training and education provided to the Naib Kadi and couples by KKH healthcare professionals, will benefit more couples and allow vulnerable couples to seek appropriate and early intervention.”

Plans are underway to open two Resource Centres at Masjid Assyafaah in the third quarter of 2021 and in Masjid An-Nur in the second quarter of 2022. These two centres which will be managed by healthcare professionals from KKH, aim to promote maternal and child health and family wellness programmes.

Dr Suzanna Sulaiman, Co-Lead, Temasek Foundation Project ARIF, as well as Head and Senior Consultant, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, KKH, said, “Leveraging KKH’s expertise in maternal and child health with the strengths of our community partners and social work colleagues, Temasek Foundation Project ARIF serves to improve couples’ marriage, family life and optimise the health of Singapore’s future generations. New or fledgling marriages are like newborn babies. You need to give them support, provide them with love, nourishment and patience. If you give them the attention they need, guide them, and support them well, they will flourish and continue to grow well. We hope to witness the promising outcome of Temasek Foundation Project ARIF within the next decade.”

Project ARIF aims to reach out to 800 newly-wed couples and those who require more support will also be assisted closely and referred for additional social support, intervention programmes or case management.

More organisations and agencies are expected to participate in the project. With multiple agencies on board, participating couples can look forward to more services and programmes to address their needs as they progress in their journey towards raising resilient families.

1 Bersamamu (With You) is an integral part of the M3 (Muis, MENDAKI and PA MESRA) Focus Area 1 on strengthening support for marriage, parenthood and early childhood education led by MOS Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim. Bersamamu has two components namely;
   a) Face-to-face interaction with soon to-wed couples at mosques
   b) Remain connected with the couples for up to 2 years after their solemnisation to provide continued support