In commemoration of International Volunteer Day (5 Dec), we are excited to share with you inspiring stories of our Habitat volunteers!
Today, we celebrate the powerful potential and capabilities of our youth volunteers. Meet Ng Wei, a second-year student at NUS Law who has been volunteering with Habitat since 2017! Ever since, he has founded two Habitat Campus Chapters in Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) and in the tertiary universities, empowering other youths to run alongside him in serving the low-income and elderly in Singapore.
Ng Wei’s Habitat journey began when he was a student in HCI and his friends invited him to start a service-learning project. They initially wanted to serve the homeless community in Singapore but after some research, stumbled upon Habitat Singapore and decided to give it a try. They soon realised that the Habitat cause resonated with them after trying their hands at Project HomeWorks, and it led Ng Wei and his friends to start a campus chapter in HCI.
“Even though Singapore has a high home-ownership rate, this does not mean that everyone has a clean and livable home. We quickly realised that there are many instances of hoarding and bed-bug infestations. These can pose health hazards to homeowners and hoarding can even create fires. […] As students, it also made us realised that we had the ability to create change and have a positive impact on those around us.”
After graduating from HCI, Ng Wei never forgot how meaningful the Habitat work was to him. As such, when he joined NUS in 2020, he pulled together two of his friends and started yet again another Campus Chapter called Project Homerun! The team has since grown to a family of 6 with students from across three universities. Together, Project Homerun hopes to encourage and empower youths to create clean and safe homes for low-income and elderly families in Singapore.
So, what is the driving force behind Ng Wei’s passion? Over the years, Ng Wei shared that he has learnt the importance of volunteering.
“As much as Singapore provides a lot of social safety nets, many still fall through the gaps and often through no fault of their own. Sometimes we don’t realise that volunteering or making donations makes a difference. However, having since managed two Chapters, I realised that there will always be an important need for volunteers to plug in the gaps and to support one another."
"Perhaps more importantly, volunteering not only supports those others around you but there is still much to be gained personally. I have made many new friends and learnt many life lessons from problem-solving to leadership. As youths, I also think it is important to continue inculcating the spirit of giving and contributing to our society which has given us much.”
Beyond the work, Ng Wei also shared that the connection made with homeowners and fellow volunteers was what made volunteering with Habitat all that more fulfilling. Every session is an eye-opening experience as there are always stories to hear and lessons to learn.
“I remember there was this one session where the homeowner was actually a retired painter and taught us how to paint. There was also this other session where the homeowner had this huge signboard from his previous Shui Kueh and Chicken Rice Shop and shared with us about his life experiences. Sometimes, the interesting stories also come from the volunteers. I have seen volunteers bond with the homeowner by sharing similar interests or talking about growing up in the same neighbourhood.”
Working so closely with the homeowners, he muses, means that one can clearly see the impact of the work and contribution to the homeowner’s life. Ng Wei always makes it a practice to take a photo of the house before and after to capture the tangible change made.
Ultimately, Ng Wei’s efforts spent on volunteering is a show of support to the vulnerable in our community.
“I wish to let them know that they are not alone and that Singaporeans will always be ready to support one another. Even now in the Covid-19 Pandemic (which doesn’t seem to end), we can continue to do our best and we will emerge stronger.”
Inspired by Ng Wei’s story and wish to support him? You can follow his campus chapter, Project Homerun on Instagram to follow their progress! They occasionally organise bake sales to raise funds for homeowners too.
If you've caught Ng Wei’s volunteering bug, we welcome you to volunteer for our programmes! Sign up for Project HomeWorks where we open volunteer slots monthly, or volunteer for our monthly community clean-up programme BlockWalk.
We would also like to take this opportunity to announce the kickstart of the Habitat Young Leaders Build happening from Dec 2021 – April 2022, which aims to engage young people to take action together to build homes and communities, speak out for decent shelter, and raise funds and awareness in support of affordable housing to help families achieve strength, stability and self-reliance. Learn more here!