Home Cleaning Project at Bukit Merah

While you were probably still asleep on a Sunday morning, our team was already out on a mission to clear up the house of a lonely lady staying in a one-room flat in Jalan Bukit Merah.
Huiting was arranging the cleaning a few weeks ago together with the earlier free soup project for the residents (https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152994532110307.1073741858.653480306), but luckily we did not put the projects on the same day, otherwise we might need to work until late evening.
The flat’s condition was definitely unsuitable for human beings to live in. It was packed almost fully that at any point of time, only a few people could step in; anyway, it was just too dirty and dusty, with a foul smell, that not many people would want to do that. We could not even see her single size bed and she was very used to sleep on a chair instead.
Elderly would not want to throw away any useless stuff because the item might come into good use in future (if they could locate the item). Moreover, many things were parts of their lives and dumping any was kind of like throwing their memories away. If your mum was from a very poor family throughout her life, you could probably been living in a messy house like mine, but trust me, your living condition could never be as bad as that.
We used gloves and masks. Some gloves were torn and my hands were most of the time soaked in water since I had to dip the cloths into the pails of water often. The masks could not filter off the smell and Yonghao had to change a few because they were soaked in his sweat.
The corridor was packed with her items, stretching to around three doors away. I made many trips down to the garbage collection centre with heavvy loads. Each time the auntie said yes to throwing any item, we would cheer because that would lessen the mess.
During lunch time, we bumped into a big group of SMU students who were on their mission to interact with the elderly over the area to find out their problems and needs. They were very nice to send manpower over to assist us despite they were very busy as well.
The auntie was not someone who took things by granted. She apologised and thanked us very often. She even called a friend to buy can drinks for us. She also forced us to take a special edition Singapore coin each by threatening to chase us away.
We went to Tanglin Halt with two big red plastic bags of her clothes to wash while we had our dinner over there. Then, we brought them to return to the auntie before we set off to Yonghao’s house since his dad had to use the lorry. After that, we went to Serangoon Garden for dessert to end the day.
The photos were taken without using speedlite and thus there might be grain and blurriness caused by high ISO and slow shutter speed. My hands were in a big mess throughout. It was extremely challenging to be the photographer when you needed to participate in the mission as well.
Su Huiting
Lee Yong Hao
Ahpa Sae Yeoh
Precious Jadey
Guo Yong Sheng
Nancy Quek
SMU students from SHINE programme
Camera: Canon 650D
Lens: Tamron 17-50mm F2.8

Respect Volunteerism

My beautiful friend woke me up early in the morning to offer me to join in the fun to bring the hunks and babes for a free meal. Despite having only two hours of sleep two nights ago, being bitten by the burning sun and spending late night to support my celebrity friend’s performance, I sweet-talked myself to get up. After caressing the toilet bowl twice, I rushed off to meet the volunteers in my weak body.
It was supposed to be a great day working with people with great souls. I knew the least thing I could do was to take photos to capture the beautiful moments, including the unglamorous ones. However, things eventually turned out differently just like how monsters always appeared in fairytale stories right after the sweet introduction.
After bringing the hunks and babes to the temple in the east and securing them to their seats under the big tentage, we were told that we had to wait for the big shot to arrive before serving them their meals. I was deeply disgusted because I realised we were used partly for political drive. There were three rows of tables where fat people were unofficially banned from walking between them. We had initially occupied an empty table in the middle but were made to move our belonging to another table because they wanted to reserve the table for the big shot. None of us complained when we were told to serve all tables, including those hunks and babes who came from elsewhere.
I tried my best to avoid the big shot’s table in case some weird people might ask me to take photos of him, which would tarnish my girlfriend’s dignity or even broke the lens – I did not have money to upgrade to a better girlfriend for now. The big shot simply came over, late, just to shake hands and wait to be served for his food. I thought if anyone who really wanted to come over to appreciate the old hunks and babes who had helped to build up the nation, he or she would have done more. If this big shot had helped out in serving the food like how the volunteers had sweated and exhausted themselves, I would at least respect him a little. It was indeed a rewarding part-time job that would give him over $10k per month. I did pity him for many people were talking behind him during his “glamorous” moments.
The drama to showcase the “kindness” of the big shot was not the most disgusting incident of the day. A lady who seemed to be the overall in-charge of the hunks and babes showed me how ugly mankind could be. Almost all of us did not know which farm she came from but she was first seen grumbling over some barricades, saying nobody would answer if any of the hunks and babes were to bypass them and fall. I was not sure if she was truly concerned for the elderly or simply did not want her head to roll, but her tone was harsh. It was just like walking on a street and a bitch came over to bark you for killing her entire family. As I moved nearer, she turned to me instead and continued to rant like as if a photographer would be so free to invite the old people wander about. Around five minutes of my life was wasted just because I tried too hard to show respect to even creature.
The same lady was ranting at another guy throughout the event. He could be her co-worker or another volunteer she had recruited. When he was trying hard to serve the hunks and babes food, she barked at him to go over to take photos of the big shot. I was extremely disgusted once again because the event was supposed to be organised for the hunks and babes and not the big shot, while our main job should be to ensure that they would not go hungry and be served with great efficiency. Even if USA’s president Barrack Obama was there as a special guest, our focus should be on the hunks and babes who had contributed to our society so much in the past.
The third brainless thing this lady did was to rant at us again at the end of the event after the big shot had left with satisfied stomach. She seemed to want us to take group photos with the big shot for whatever motives she had. It was either she was brainless enough to slip it off her mind or she had whispered to the grass to request us to do that, but she blamed us. One girl was finally pissed off and stepped up to stop her imagination and bring her back to the real world. She was lucky enough that we were inside a temple and I tried hard not to put my friend on the spot. Anyway, none of us was willing to take photos with any big shot. We did voluntary work not for show.
I feel so sad for Singapore due to the existence of such lady who is killing volunteerism. Which volunteer would offer his/her help in future to events that such lady is in charge of? Volunteers are not being paid and the least thing the organiser can do is to show them respect. In fact, even if the lady has paid people to do the work, she should also treat the salaried workers with respect. I wonder if she would feel ashamed if she ever see how I treat the town council’s foreign cleaners. You cannot simply point fingers at anyone if you think the weather is hot.
Lastly, I’m also confused over the need for calling for volunteers for some charity events. If the organisers have such close links to big shots and that they have to suck up to these wealthy and powerful people, they should be able to get many “sponsors” to employ staffs to handle the events. Why are the time of innocent and poor volunteers be needed for such events when they can offer their help to other events that truly lack funding.
I have actually learned a big lesson for the day but the main thing is that I should have tried to find out more details about any voluntary work before agreeing to help, be it taking photos or babysitting the less healthy people.
I love seeing kind souls working hard selfishlessly. The world needs more true love to make more people’s lives beautiful.

Voluntary Work at Sarah Home Again

[Saturday, 15 January, 2011]

I was working hard on SEO for the tuition agency site when Sae Yeoh messaged me in MSN regarding my 2011 Singapore Calendar Planner. I sent her the original copy so that she could make amendments. I was glad that she told me she was going to help out at Sarah Home as well because I was lazy to find out more from Huiting and that Baoyu did not reply my last SMS. I went to bed at 5.30am.

I woke up before 8am and knowing that the team would be late, I took my own sweet time and left my house at around 8.30am. I managed to reach Sarah Home very soon and got myself a small bao at the coffee shop nearby. While waiting downstairs, a cat fell from the second storey by the side and screamed as it ran off immediately. Eventually I decided to go upstairs to wait for them.

As Huiting and her gang arrived, we proceeded to work very quickly. I was stunned when I was told that we would be doing painting and not moving things like Baoyu had told me. I regretted not wearing shabbier clothes along. Baoyu arrived later and joined my team, and we started our usual debating. It was a tough but enjoyable moment. When the old paint started to peel off when it was wetted with the new paint, we saw a greater challenge to scrub them off. The owner of the house was very afraid that we might drag on till very late and told us not to do the extra work.

Lunch was at around 1pm. We went down to the Sarah Home centre for the chicken rice, which was quite dry and plain taste. I was quite amazed that there was another big group of volunteers and I believed they were merely doing spring cleaning for the elderly residents. However, when the leader started his religious preaching, I was disgusted. I would love to do voluntary work in an environment where everyone, regardless of religion, was giving off his best to the needy without any other agenda.

The auntie of the house bought bubble tea for us because she overheard Baoyu mentioning about rewarding herself with it after we finished the painting. As the hardship dragged on, I threw out more craps in order to entertain them. In the end, Huiting and Baoyu took their revenge by making me the cameraman for the group photos. Sae Yeoh thought I was upset over it.

We left the place at around 5pm in the rain. We took bus to Tiong Bahru Plaza and then transit to train. After showering, I dozed off almost immediately and woke up near 8pm. I had fried rice for dinner.

I started doing SEO for the tuition agency site when Sae Yeoh chased me for the photos.

It seemed that nobody, except Mike, could see the hard work I had been putting in everyday, working non-stop to make my life dull and stressful. It took a lot for me to spend a day doing voluntary work instead of working on my own stuffs when I was still financially tight, because afterwards I would have to work even harder. I was of no difference to a robot, except that I could appreciate updates from friends in Facebook that would take a few minutes off my time to keep me away from working.


Volunteered for ASD Singapore Goodies Bag Packing Team

[Saturday, 20 November, 2010]

I worked on the tuition agency website until 9am and managed to also create a Twitter and Feedburner accounts for it. I dozed off for a while until 10am and felt quite surprised that Huiting did not give me morning call. My mum bought noodle for me and the fish cake she heated up in the oven was cold. I went to the toilet twice and I knew I would be late definitely.

Huiting called me when I was at the lift lobby and in order not to be disconnected, I did not board the lift. She told me she was leaving Singapore Polytechnic and since she did not know how to get to her friend’s place as well, we decided to meet. However, I was not sure where to meet her at since she did not know the Pasir Panjang Food Centre. We agreed on meeting at the prata shop, which I knew would take me longer to reach.

I was too tired to walk after having the diarrhoea and thus I went to the bus-stop in front of Amara Hotel instead of walking a longer distance to Keppel Road. I alighted at Vivocity to change bus but Huiting told me her bus did not stop near the prata shop. Therefore, I got her to take cab in directly while I stick to my original plan.

After arriving at Pasir Panjang, I made a wrong move to enter the private estate on my left, which was actually a deadly. Judging from the map, if there was an opening, I would have shortened my journey by quite a lot. I took the entrance at the extreme right and managed to find a familiar path along the canal. Eventually I made it to the playground and I was lucky to reach the destination soon.

After going into the house, I managed to see Huiting and I was quite stunned to see that one of the girls was stylish looking. We got started soon and it was quite messy for the goodies from the sponsors were too many to be lined up properly. We had over four hundreds of goodies bags to settle and I mainly worked on some papers and magnets that nearly broke my back.

We ended work after 2pm and went to the nearest duck rice stall to eat. It was the second time I went there and I was quite surprised over how popular it seemed to be when there was nothing much special. The meal cost more than sixty bucks and Ricky, being the eldest guy, treated us.

We took bus to Harbourfront while Huiting stayed at the bus-stop to wait for her sister to drive over. I was quiet through the journey for I knew none of them, except for the stylish babe did talk to me on the way for our lunch. I waited at the bus-top while the rest of them went to the train station.

I dozed off soon with Lucky after reaching home after 3pm. I woke up at around 6pm and started working on the tuition agency website.


Voluntary Work at Sarah Home Centre

[Thursday, 30 September, 2010]

I began the day watching show with my elder brother, followed by the soccer match between Man Utd and Valencia. I thought I would doze off halfway but I did not. I went to sleep at 5am but it took me some time to knock out.

Waking up before 7am, I lazed around and decided to give up sleeping for another half an hour. Since it was early, I decided to meet Huiting and her friends at Tiong Bahru instead of taking direct buses over to Bukit Merah. It was warm inside the coffee shop as I waited for them to finish their breakfast before setting off. We took bus 195 over to block 105 and went for home visiting to distribute some of the buns bought by Huiting to the old residents. After that, we went to the Sarah home centre at level 2 of block 105 before we left to distribute the remaining of the food.

We had a short meeting at the centre before we left in four groups of two. I partnered with Dexuan and we faced some suspicious old people. We were supposed to help Sarah home to do some reregistering of their members and also to conduct a short survey. Starting off was difficult for we were not totally sure of the form. Halfway through, we changed partners due to language problem and I stayed inside an auntie’s house for around forty-five minutes to get the form filled while listening to her long stories.

Someone from the centre bought lunch for us and I was sure each packet cost more than three bucks for there were four or more dishes inside. The two volunteers, Yuqing and Hwee Ping, I engaged through Facebook arrived at around 2pm and 3pm, and brought a friend each. We continued the voluntary work till 5.30pm. My back was aching, my brain was exhausted and I could hardly speak anymore.

It was a good experience interacting with the kind and chatty old folks but it was quite sad to know about dark stories of Singapore through them. Apart from hearing from many old folks about bad things regarding the centre that stopped them from joining the activities, it was a good day.

It was actually a good chance to see Huiting home so that we could chat during the journey but I held back again in case of misunderstanding. It was such a waste since we had been communicating regarding charity work only.

After reaching home, I fed Lucky and later, had my dinner. Soon, I was too tired to keep myself conscious anymore. My brothers took Lucky down for a walk and I did not join in.


Voluntary work at Red Cross home for disabled

[Thursday, 25 May, 2006]

At first I thought it was voluntary work to accompany little kids to play and I was very enthusiastic about it. Since my department had to produce one man to attend, I took up the chance.

On the day itself, it was the first time I could wear home clothes, including shorts and sandals to walk around in camp. Soon, I started to hear about more hard work.

Indeed, the trip to the Red Cross home for the disabled was tough. After wheeling one of the residents each just a round outside, I was having a bit of phobia in taking care of them. I hated the slopes. It was not easy to be attentive and careful.

We were then divided to clear a room and the different levels. The room was besides the training shed and there were many heavy and bulky loads to be transported. It had definitely worsened my back once again since I could not announce to the ISM that I was still on status and should not be carrying any heavy load.

The room was freaking filthy and that cockroaches were nesting around already. I accidentally stepped on the tools box while moving a huge table and luckily was not hit by any of the sharp objects inside. After moving the stuffs out to the training shed, we had to sweep the places.

Next was feeding time. Each of us attended to one of the residents and luckily this time I was assigned to an auntie who still could speak a little though not clear enough. My back further worsened by bending forward to feed her. She made me wheel her outside again and then a few rounds near the pond; though it was extra work, but I managed to discover about that area, which I believed none other had been there.

Though it was just a little strolling around, all of the residents seemed so happy. Lives must be boring there that they felt so glad once there were visitors. I could not imagine myself to be part of them in future when I get older and fall sick like them.

I was impressed by some of my group members who were very keen in helping out. Next was the new ISM who had shown so much leadership and especially in his encouragements.

Everyone was released on the spot and needed not go back to camp.

Jianhao, Gary, Alvin and I had our lunch at the West Mall food court. It was a rare get together and among them I only knew Jianhao long enough. The lemon chicken rice sucked and the fruits were disgusting as well.

We went to the arcade centre after that and had a game of Daytona 2 before the tiring table game. I was not sure of the name but the idea was to hit the disc in between the opponent’s “goal posts” to score. I teamed up with Alvin and I was on the left, left palm by the side but some part of it was accidentally near to the “battle ground” and one of the incoming furious discs slipped past violently and caused a blue black on my palm. It was a nice game and both teams won once.

After that, we departed.