Youths Make A Difference During The Pandemic
Tang Jia Wen finds out more about four youths and their self-initiated acts of kindness in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
TANG JIA WEN
July 7, 2020
For Melissa Low’s 19th birthday this year, she wanted her loved ones to give a gift to migrant workers instead.
“Why should I just be celebrating me?” This was the question which inspired the final-year Mass Communication student from the School of Film & Media Studies at Ngee Ann Polytechnic to raise funds for the Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC) on giving.sg.
Giving.sg is an initiative by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), whereby individuals can show their support for causes by donating via the platform. Photo by Tang Jia Wen.
Following the Covid-19 outbreak, the local migrant worker community in Singapore was thrust into the spotlight in early April. They are amongst the most vulnerable and badly hit communities in Singapore, with 25 foreign worker dormitories gazetted as isolation areas from May 7, 2020.
By the end of the campaign, S$2,390 had been raised from 49 donors. The funds raised will go to the Migrant Workers’ Assistance Funds, a campaign by MWC which was set up in 2012 to fund all humanitarian and emergency assistance for MWC case clients.
Part of the S$2,390 raised includes a donation of S$110 by Melissa herself. Aside from the fundraiser hosted on giving.sg, Melissa also hosted a separate Kahoot fundraiser with her close friends. For every question the winner got correct, S$10 would be donated by Melissa. Ultimately, the winner got 11 questions correct.
“Kahoots”, are user-generated multiple-choice quizzes accessible through web browsers or the Kahoot app. Photo by Tang Jia Wen.
“I thought, what better way to bring awareness about the migrant worker situation in Singapore but at the same time celebrate my birthday?” Melissa said.
Friends and family members sang Melissa a song for her birthday during the video call session used to facilitate the game of Kahoot. Photo by Tang Jia Wen.
Melissa advised other youths considering doing the same to simply make a difference by taking the first step.
This was a sentiment shared by Mohamed Farhan, 19. The second-year engineering student at ITE College East took it upon himself to distribute masks around his Whampoa neighbourhood.
Farhan was inspired by the acts of kindness he witnessed on social media. “I felt that I had the ability to do it too, so why not I tag along and do something good for my neighbours,” Farhan explained.
I felt that I had the ability to do it too, so why not I tag along and do something good for my neighbour.
Along with one of his friends, Farhan slotted masks into ziplock bags and then into pouches to be placed inside of residential lifts.
Along with each pouch, Farhan also attached a short note with his contact details to cater to any neighbours who may have queries. Photos courtesy of Mohamed Farhan.
The journey was not a bed of roses. After a few days, when Farhan went back to the different residential lifts to check if top-ups were required, he devastatingly found that several residents had thrown rubbish in the pouches.
However, many neighbours took to Instagram to show their appreciation for Farhan’s selfless act during this difficult period of time.
Words of appreciation from neighbours received by Farhan on Instagram since launching his self-initiated project. Photos courtesy of Mohamed Farhan.
Melissa and Farhan’s self-initiated acts of kindness are not the only examples. In February, medical supplies worth S$3,039 were sent to the Changjiang Shipping General Hospital in Wuhan after two weeks of donation collation efforts by Hwa Chong Junior College graduates Wynne Lee and Shi Xinyao, both 19.
The self-initiated project came about in January when Xinyao contacted Wynne, who was working as a clinic assistant then, to ask whether the clinic had masks she could purchase to ship to Wuhan, China.
The duo began their self-initiated project by appealing to friends and family on social media and Whatsapp for donations. Photo courtesy of Wynne Lee.
“My parents were from Wuhan and I have many of my relatives residing over there, so this epidemic felt very close to heart. I was afraid, because behind the numbers denoting the increase in cases every day, it could be one of my relatives or someone they know. Hence, I really wanted to help in any way I could,” Xinyao explained.
The items donated successfully arrived at the hospital on Feb 10, 2020. Photo courtesy of Shi Xinyao.
The donations in the form of both monetary and goods such as surgical masks and gloves enabled them to send about 3,000 surgical masks and 500 pairs of surgical gloves to Wuhan. The duo sincerely appreciates the assistance of friends, acquaintances and even strangers who reached out to donate. For instance, it was through a schoolmate’s cousin that they managed to link up with their mask supplier.
Xinyao (left) and Wynne posing happily with the masks acquired via donations. Photo courtesy of Wynne Lee.
“I felt that we received much more than we gave. The various interactions we had with the different personnel through this project, from frontline medical workers in China to local mask suppliers, showed me that there are no global boundaries to kindness,” Wynne shared, through an email when asked about her biggest takeaway from the project.
Timeline of the self-initiated project started by Wynne and Xinyao. Photo by Tang Jia Wen.
As with Melissa, Xinyao encourages youths to realise that they too can make a difference as individuals. Looking forward, both youths are working on other self-initiated efforts, inclusive of a documentary and offering free online tuition for those who need it.
“I believe that we (youths) are all capable of making a difference, and no act of kindness, no matter how small is ever wasted. As Gandhi rightly sums it up, you must be the change you wish to see in the world!” Wynne said.
I believe that we (youths) are all capable of making a difference, and no act of kindness, no matter how small is ever wasted. As Gandhi rightly sums it up, you must be the change you wish to see in the world!
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