- Yong Teck Meng, National Director
Not Remembering Anniversaries
We have a certificate hanging at our office door commemorating the official opening of our office on March 11th, 2004 by our founders, the late Millard Fuller and his wife Linda. We consider that date to be the official birthday of Habitat for Humanity Singapore. The fact however, is that there were many Singaporean volunteers who already participated in Habitat activities before the official opening of our office. Teams of students went to Thailand to do house builds, and a team of adult volunteers participated in the Jimmy Carter work project in Korea in 2001. So it would be difficult to pinpoint a particular date for the start of Habitat's work in Singapore.
We remember anniversaries, birthdays and the like because they mark significant moments in our life. We pause and celebrate, and reflect in thanksgiving. In Habitat Singapore however, there are so many significant moments that we typically don’t quite remember our own anniversaries.
Almost every day, we celebrate and rejoice with our house-partners when we complete a much-needed house; we get a sense of comfort and satisfaction when we know that the elderly we have just helped will have a decent night without bed bugs; we tear up when we hear troubled teens relate their experiences when they are challenged to make their own lives better via participating in our StarBuilders - house build programmes... the list goes on and on. I always tell my staff that in the work we do at Habitat, everything is good in the end because everything we do should contribute to the wellbeing of the disadvantaged we serve.
But we share these uplifting moments with our many volunteers and supporters, without whom our work would not continue. Habitat for Humanity started out many years ago as a movement, and while we are now a structured international organisation, we remain a movement at heart. Our aim is to mobilise all peoples and resources around the world to fight poverty by eliminating poverty-housing. It is not even important that the work is done under the Habitat banner, which is why we do not feel a need to make a big deal out of an anniversary.
So the work carries on, anniversary or not. May we, staff and volunteers alike, work ourselves out of a job because we have eliminated poverty-housing. May we not need to remember any more anniversaries.