A tree can symbolise many things: to some, the roots are a metaphor for one’s origins, and to others, the branches and leaves are seen as shelter. To Ho Si Min, one interpretation that stands out is how a tree is strong and unwavering no matter rain or shine—something that she hopes her children will be as they overcome the challenges of growing up.

This symbolism is what motivated her family to participate in FamilyTrees, a collaboration between the National Parks Board and Families for Life, that allows parents to celebrate their child’s birth by planning a tree within three years of their child’s birth date. As part of the One Million Trees movement, this project plays a dual role in contributing to building lasting family bonds, and in creating a greener future for Singapore.

Si Min and her husband, Jonathan Sim, along with their son, 2-year-old Matthew, participated in the FamilyTrees event in September, and planted a tree at East Coast Park to commemorate Matthew’s birth.

New life brings hope

The tree planting was particularly memorable for the family because of how Matthew changed their lives. They found out about the pregnancy at the start of 2020, when the world had just begun grappling with the fears and uncertainties of the pandemic. Before the family even had time for the news to sink in, Si Min was retrenched from her job in the IT sector.

“It was a period of high stress for us, but Matthew’s birth was like the rainbow after the storm,” Si Min shares that she eventually found a new job, and was grateful that her son was born happy and healthy. While others were bored and frustrated by social distancing regulations, she and her husband found great joy in being able to stay home and care for their newborn—they even decided they were ready to have a second child, the now 9-month-old, Kenji.

Simin with Matthew 

An opportunity to sow seeds of bonding

As Matthew was barely two years old when the tree was planted, Si Min is doubtful he will remember much of the event when he grows up. Nonetheless, she believes it was a worthwhile experience.

“He got to experience nature, to see other families having fun together, and most importantly, to spend quality time with both me and his father—I think that really made a difference for him,” Si Min says. She explains that this is particularly so as both she and her husband, who is a tutor, have returned to their offices, and must take turns to care for the children. As such, it can be difficult to coordinate their schedules for the whole family to be together.

“I’d definitely recommend the tree planting activity as a family activity,” she says, adding that the family is excited to visit their tree at East Coast Park, and even hopes to plant a second tree, named after Kenji, in the future.

Her tips to other parents? Dress appropriately with the right footwear, and definitely remember to bring mosquito patches!

FFL FamilyTrees