早安您好, Good Morning, Uncle Auntie, 有人在家吗 anybody home?
Repeat, in Mandarin, Teochew, Hokkien to connect with the residents.
That was how Daddy spend his Sunday morning volunteering at Chin Swee Road. We were knocking door to door, offering assistance, distributing food, and asking who need new mattress.
Since young, 奶奶 has always taught Daddy 做好人, 做善事 (do good deeds).
We help within our own means, 有錢出錢，有力出力 (donate rice or time).
Finding the time to contribute is always challenging. Daddy has always wanted to volunteer, but somehow, there are always some excuses.
Ms Fion Phua has been volunteering for almost 20years. Daddy have heard about her charitable acts through the news, and luxury handbags for rice story.
She is coordinating all the logistics, supply and manpower. Fion will source for donors and volunteers to step forward and make a difference.
In some cases, Fion’s team will even help to top up bus cards and medisave for elderly, or help pay off outstanding utilities bills.
Last Sun, residents get donations of bread, rice, cakes, soon-kueh and even angpows.
** Meeting place and Volunteers
There are three regular spots to meetup, Chin Swee Road, Henderson Road, and North Bridge Road. Most are rented flats. Fion will update upcoming events to volunteers.
Last Sun, there were about 40 volunteers at Chin Swee Road, Daddy notice a lot of newbies. There were also volunteers waiting at the two other sites, we can easily count more than 100 volunteers.
Our individual effort might be limited, but working as a group, we can reach out to more families. It does not matter if we do not know each other yet, just smile and work towards our common goal
Volunteers will split into two main groups. One will remain at first floor to distribute the food. The second group will comb the floors, door to door, informing residents about food distribution below, and at the same time, checking which units need cleaning up.
As Chinese Lunar New Year is approaching, we even have a freelance God of Wealth (財神爷) distributing sweets and angpow. The senior citizens love 財神爷, and were queuing to get blessings. One of the volunteers even prepared Red bean and Green bean soup for the residents.
** The residents
Most of them are elderly Chinese. Some old folks still have to take of their grandchildren. Some residents are intellectually challenged or handicapped, making it difficult to maintain their home. After a few units, we know those units reeking of urine stench probably need the most help.
Sometimes, the residents just need a listening ear, like this friendly Ah Mah (grandma).
** How can you help?
As Fion always emphasise, Volunteer with a BIG heart.
We need people who does not mind working hard or getting dirty. Just Do it.
More volunteers are definitely welcomed. Guys come in useful when we need to clean the house, as ladies might be afraid of crawlies.
Do not expect any orientation, just smile to your fellow volunteers, if you need help, shout Most volunteers are nice and helpful folks.
Currently, Fion is contactable via her Facebook account. Volunteers will help to share her message and events. It is always difficult to reach her on weekends.
In summary, our Objectives are easy to understand but tiring to implement :
- Help the less fortunate
- Make their home more comfortable
- Spread awareness, and engage more stakeholders, be it sponsors or volunteers
** Personal thoughts
- Some families live with two meals per day, not knowing when is the next meal
- Daddy though it will be good to expose the older and sensible kids to “poor” living conditions in affluent Singapore.
- Avoid bringing smaller kids, as they might pinch their nose at stench, and end up being counter-productive.
- Some residents might get agitated if we run out of rations, or demand for more angpows. We just have to be firm, and explain the situation. Most residents will understand and appreciate our gestures.
- What about those resident who do not respond to our calls?
Do they need help ? Are they ok?
We need more helping hands. Who want to join Daddy next round?
Volunteering is not as easy as step 1,2,3 but everything has to start with the first step. Thank you Fion and team, for making my Sunday so meaningful.
*credit 2nd and 6th photos are obtained with Fion’s permission
** Click for a listing of VWOS in Singapore