Ru Yi first volunteered with Habitat Singapore for Home Sweep Home 2017 before embarking on a internship as a Project HomeWorks Programme Intern. Ru Yi found Project HomeWorks so enjoyable, she became a HomeWorks Champion once her internship came to an end. We asked Ru Yi about her Project HomeWorks experience and here are her thoughts:
Habitat: What inspired you to take part in Project HomeWorks?
The word ‘Home’ strikes a chord deep inside me. Personally, I feel that having a decent home that we can call our own is important to a lot of us. I also think that the environment in which we live in is closely linked to our own physical and emotional well-being. Hence, when I learned about Project HomeWorks, I felt compelled and driven to help. It was a cause near and close to my heart.
Habitat: What motivates you to volunteer and want to keep coming back?
There is a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson that goes like this “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded”. Knowing that I have helped someone sleep more comfortably, made a home brighter and cleaner keeps me motivated. Every experience is unique and comes with its own set of fun and challenges, but one thing that’s constant is the sense of meaning and reward I gain. I also really enjoy the conversations I have with the homeowners, and personally learning about their lives. It really touches and warms my heart when I see the homeowners breaking into a huge smile and brimming with thankfulness. These are some of the things that makes volunteering worthwhile. A little help really goes a long way, and it is truly more blessed to give than to receive.
Habitat: Please share some highlights from your volunteering experiences over the years.
If variety is the spice of life, then Project HomeWorks must be one of the spiciest volunteering activities out there. Project HomeWorks was a place of many firsts for me. Singapore boasts some of the highest living standards in Asia. At Project HomeWorks, it was my first time visiting homes with poor living conditions, such as bed bug infested units, and homes with an appalling amount of clutter. It is also interesting to see the objects that defined the homeowners and created the backdrop of their lives. For example, old photos, vintage treasures and antiques, vinyl from local artists in the past and many other stuff that are rich in memories.
Through Project HomeWorks, I have realized the importance of having empathy. Empathy keeps us from casting judgement, enables us to be patient and put ourselves in the homeowner’s shoes. It also challenges me to examine my attitude and put aside my own viewpoints. I have become more aware of the need to build a relationship with the homeowners and addressing their needs in a way that is most helpful to them, than being concerned with getting my way and being right. I truly believe that empathy can lead us to become better listeners, learners and social change makers.
Habitat: Why Project HomeWorks?
There are a huge range of volunteering activities out there. However, Project HomeWorks is special as it provides the opportunity to see the combined efforts come to life, one step at a time. Many hands make light work! You are able to ignite and witness real, and practical changes, and you always leave a home different and better than its original state, which fills you up with an indescribable feeling of accomplishment. I am honored to have worked alongside so many Habitat staff and volunteers who have reached beyond themselves to touch the lives of those in need.