HANDS OF HOPE
Kent Ridge Lighthouse and GESL Group 5, Diploma Primary Programme
Working with multiple partners is no mean feat; however, organising a larger scale project can amplify the positive benefits of paying it forward and bring immense satisfaction.
We first reached out to Kent Ridge Lighthouse (KR Lighthouse) to run food distribution services for needy seniors. We felt that in doing so, we could raise the social awareness amongst volunteering KR Lighthouse students to empathise with the elderly who are living alone, bond the students through service learning and initiate the spirit of volunteerism to share the joy of giving.
To prepare the students for the food distribution service, we conducted a workshop with the volunteering students. We shared our expectations on the day of the food distribution and simulated stressful situations through role play to see how they would react. In doing so, we talked through uncomfortable scenarios that they might face and encouraged the students to share their views while giving them useful advice as mentors that they could look up to.
Concurrently, we also ran a food donation drive within the NIE community. Our food donation drive was also made known to the public via our social media platforms, namely Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Our team members further sought donations from families and friends.
The donations came in the form of cash and non-perishable food items. All items had to be collected, categorised and resorted before they were packed into bags to be distributed to elderly recipients with the assistance of the students from KR Lighthouse. The students had to give suggestions as to how we could pack these items to ensure that each household received an equal number of items.
Distribution was made possible by working with a community partner, Lion Befrienders which is a welfare organisation that serves poor elderly. We paired up with students to complete our food distribution tasks. The team was divided into 10 groups, each group consisting of one student teacher and two or three students. The groups were also made up of different races as most of our beneficiaries were Chinese and Malay who did not speak English so we had to have a mixture of Chinese and Malay teachers or students in each group.
We observed that the students interacted well with the elderly. From the start of this project, we deliberately linked up students from low-income families to share our service-learning opportunity to serve needy seniors. During our debriefing session, we emphasised that despite their own circumstances, they were able to learn and contribute effectively. For teachers, it was all about a matter of winning their attention and enthusiasm.
As teachers to be, this project allowed us to see the issue of poverty in Singapore in a different light. There are many pioneer Singaporeans who have worked hard and contributed to the success of Singapore in their own ways and yet have fallen through the cracks.
Meritocracy, while being a pillar of our success, works to the detriment of those caught within the poverty cycle and certainly they need more help to ensure that they have a chance to break out of this vicious cycle to find their own success. This can only be done through having a self-sustaining culture of giving back. We need more helping hands of hope to ensure that no one gets left behind in our success.