When you hear the name Habitat for Humanity Singapore, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
You may probably know us as the VWO that sends volunteers to build trips or conduct clean-up sessions in Singapore or even as the crazy non-profit group that rallies groups of people to walk barefoot in memory of the less fortunate - but to what end?
Sure, while we ultimately want to see our vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live come true, but how? Would doing all these programmes ever be sufficient?
I remember our National Director, Teck Meng, shared something at one of our weekly staff meetings that really stuck me. He said -
“We want to educate the youth of today that being a good person doesn’t solve any issues; it just means that you’re not part of the problem. We need to teach the future generation not only to be aware of how their actions can affect others but also their inaction.”
So yes, while we try to do our part by organising various volunteer programmes, what we really hope to do is to encourage and inspire people to care for their neighbours. Through Project HomeWorks, I have personally witnessed how some neighbours would go out of their way to take care of the elderly living next door or even a few floors below them. Sadly, I have also seen neighbours who have turned their backs away from hoarding cases when a stench starts to come out of a flat after years of uncleanliness is being slowly revealed.
What type of neighbour would you be?
A common statistic that we remind ourselves often in the Habitat Singapore office is one of alarming numbers. On 11 April 2012, Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Madam Halimah Yacob mentioned in Parliament that there were as many as 35,000 elderly people living alone and this number is likely to increase to 83,000 by 2030.
In more recent news, studies/research have shown that more children are moving out of their parents home thus causing these elderly parents to have a lack of a proper support system within the nuclear family.
Wouldn’t it be great if everyone knew their neighbours and shared a meal with them from time to time?
Wouldn’t it be great if we could identify their needs and help each other out?
Wouldn’t it be great if we saw old folks in our estate could enjoy their golden years ahead of them in a loving and caring environment?
The truth is, it really does not take a lot to volunteer your energy and time if help is needed just around the corner.