More than 160 cars hit the roads Saturday morning to deliver food hampers to 1,500 beneficiaries.
It was part of the annual Boys’ Brigade Share-a-Gift (BBSG) Christmas event to spread festive joy to the less privileged.
More than 200 volunteers dropped off 2,000 food hampers containing 13 household essentials like cooking oil, biscuits and instant food.
The Boys’ Brigade hopes to reach out to 40,691 recipients by the end of the month. With 11 days to go, they hope to attract some 325 cars to join in the weekday deliveries.
“This year we have got over 40,000 people to help. Right up to now, we are only at about 42 per cent of our targets. We ask the public to continue to contribute,” said BBSG 2013 Chairman Lui Chong Chee.
“We are short of cooking oil; we are still short of halal canned food like baked beans and sardines. We are also short of soya sauce, so the public can just help us and donate. The response this year has been excellent and there are a lot of volunteers coming forward.”
He added that in addition to buying and delivering the food, the members of the public can also help out by going to the Boys’ Brigade HQ at Havelock Road to offer their assistance.
Donations can also be made at over 840 AXS machines around Singapore. Members of the public may also purchase and donate general food and household hampers valued at S$30 and S$50 via NTUC FairPrice’s online portal till 31 December.
Christmas came early this morning as Underwater World Singapore (UWS) teamed up with 12 volunteers from the Freedom Adventure Club and treated 35 young children with special needs from the Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD) to an exciting, magical, and heart-warming adventure together with their loved ones.
This early celebration was organised in support of inclusion as the world observed the International Day for Persons with Disabilities which fell on December 3. “We share the same belief with the Freedom Adventure Club that people with special needs, especially the children, should live life to the fullest and we hope that the oceanarium adventure at Underwater World Singapore can empower these children and free them to explore and learn about the marvels of the oceans,” said Ms Grace Ng, Deputy Director (Sales & Marketing) of Underwater World Singapore.
The day kick-started with a fun-filled session specially conducted by the Freedom Adventure Club volunteers to help the children get familiarised with the friendly marine animals.
The session was then followed by an educational tour for the children in UWS’ iconic Underwater Tunnel where they enthusiastically pointed and called out their favourites, accurately matching animal for animal.
They also had the opportunity to meet the adorable pink dolphins and fur seals during the Meet-the Pink- Dolphin-and-Fur-Seal session at the UWS’ Dolphin Lagoon. The joyous event reached a climax with UWS’ resident Scuba-diving Santa making a special appearance, feeding sharks and rays and planting smiles on the faces of the little ones all under the tender age of 6.
The tunnel was immediately filled with love as Mr Underwater Santa shared a high-five with the kids from inside the tank among the marine animals.
To top it all off, the caregivers and the children took selfies with Mr Underwater Santa and their beloved fishes. Come this Christmas, the public will also be able to take selfies with Mr Underwater Santa from December 20, 2013 to January 1, 2014 at 11.30am and 4.30pm daily.
During this season of giving, let us not forget the less fortunate within our community.
In an effort to raise funds to help needy NSmen and their families, LEGO® bricks will be sold at $10 at all SAFRA clubs from now to 3 Jan 14. All funds raised will go towards the Community Cheat and SAF Care Fund.
Every LEGO® brick purchased will be creatively pieces into a mural that symbolises the strong bonds of the NSmen community. At the end of the project, these LEGO® bricks will be distributed as gifts to underprivileged children.
Details here: http://buzz.mw/b5b7k_n
Their children, they sink their roots here. Caregivers and homemakers like her seek fulfilling ways to give back to their adopted land. Says Ms Ramya Nageswaran, 43, writer, counsellor, social entrepreneur and mother of two: “A lot of us have made Singapore a very comfortable home for ourselves. It only seems logical that we understand the culture and people more, by engaging with the local community.”
A decade ago, Ms Nageswaran set up Focus India Forum, an informal giving circle. The forum now works for local causes with organisations like Project Dignity Kitchen, Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) and the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME). But for a few years after its inception, as its name suggests, the forum directed its attention solely to causes in India.
Ms Nageswaran, a new citizen, explains: “It was a small group, with less money. Initially, we started giving back in India. We then decided to give back locally, whenever a suitable occasion arose, for example, during Diwali.”
This is a prioritisation process many expatriate Indian women in Singapore deal with. Given their limited time and resources – and their homeland’s pressing issues – how do they balance their involvement in the two countries?
One approach, suggests Ms Gupta, is to offer time and skills here, while contributing in kind to Indian efforts.
Besides her sessions at the Wesley Seniors Activity Centre, Ms Gupta also volunteers as a board member at the Women’s Initiative for Ageing Successfully (WINGS). As a past chairperson of CARE, the community service chapter of the Indian Women’s Association (IWA), she oversaw efforts with TWC2, which included fund raising, pain management talks and computer classes for migrant workers. Clearly, Ms Gupta has found her volunteering niche in Singapore. But it has not been a straightforward journey.
Recalls Ms Gupta: “During an earlier stint in Singapore in the ’90s, I was an expat with young kids. There was little mental or physical energy to devote to volunteering activities in the local community. So, volunteering was limited to my children’s school and their activities.”
This is a situation familiar to many Indian families in Singapore. And organisations like the Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA) recognise this.
Says SINDA’s community engagement and volunteer management division director S. Devendran: “Volunteer for whatever resonates with you – as per your life circumstances.”
Women with demanding caregiving responsibilities can use SINDA’s ad-hoc volunteering opportunities – such as helping out at events or in the SINDA headquarters.
SINDA also offers avenues like the Home-tuition, Project Read and Literacy & Numeracy programmes, for women who can make long-term volunteering commitments. Adds Mr Devendran: “Spouses represent a cerebral reservoir of talent and expertise we should tap on, and we are doing it. A big thank you to these ladies who are giving us their time – the most wonderful resource.”
As the Indian community in Singapore grows, its new members have to find ways to become a part of the country’s social fabric. For many, community service is the answer. Notes Mr Devendran: “Integration is a key focus area for the community and SINDA offers opportunities for integration in the social service sector.”
Volunteering not only helps understand Singaporean society better, but also its specific areas of need. Says Ms Nageswaran: “It is only when you move out of your comfort zone, that you understand the versatility and problems of the people.”
Another major platform for Indian women, who wish to offer community service in the Lion City, is the IWA. Set up in 1997, the association has kept pace with the community’s evolution. In 2011-2012, under Ms Subina Khaneja, it re-invented itself with a major thrust on community service, through its CARE chapter.
Says current IWA president Piu Lahiri: “We needed to give back to this wonderful country that has so generously embraced us. However many events we might have, the CARE part of IWA provides the soul of the association. It helps us integrate with Singapore and Singaporeans.”
IWA’s notable efforts include a long-term volunteer affiliation with the Sunshine Welfare Mission (SWAMI) Home and its elderly residents and the IWA SMU Vidya Scholarship for a deserving undergraduate student.
There are many inspiring examples of Indian women in Singapore – who find the time between juggling home and work – to give back in their individual capacities.
Ms Shikha Chatkara, 35, is married and has a full-time career in the telecom sector. But evenings and weekends often find Ms Chatkara, a permanent resident, volunteering at her neighbourhood community club. On top of helping to organise know-your-neighbour sessions, festival celebrations and other events, she is also involved in anti-litter campaigns and other civic initiatives.
Ms Sona Pandey, 30, a mother of one, is an active member of the Indian Activity Executive Committee at the Potong Pasir Community Club. Ms Pandey, a permanent resident, makes time to volunteer for CC programmes and participate in major cultural events like the Chingay and National Day parades, along with her colleagues at Grace Ladies, a business venture and club she founded. Ms Sujata Cowlagi, 39, a senior yoga teacher and mother of two, is another Indian woman who connects with the community through her pro-bono work.
Ms Cowlagi, a permanent resident who has lived on the island for seven years, counsels troubled individuals and also participates in workshops and fund raisers. She recently conducted a session “Cope with grief. Heal with Love” to help Philippine workers deal with the anxiety caused by Typhoon Haiyan. Ms Cowlagi says she believes that “the language of care and love is well understood by all”.
Language. A new milieu. Personal responsibilities.
These are barriers that need not stop one from finding a cause to serve in Singapore.
Says Ms Gupta: “People get daunted by the idea of volunteering. But even a small act can go a long way.
Do not get put off by your first rejection. Buddy up with a local. Find your strength or skill or passion and volunteer in that space. It is more sustainable and gratifying.
A cause can be anywhere. When you have given your time to someone, in whatever way, you are a volunteer.”