18.35 Activism - Young Activists
Combining one’s love for volunteerism while preserving Singapore’s rich heritage

Contributed by Flora Isabelle

Lynn Wong has been volunteering with Young NTUC since October 2015 and when I asked if she was always this active in volunteering, she laughed before telling me that she can’t remember when she was NOT thinking about how she could give back to society. Besides being part of the core team of Team Young NTUC Volunteers, she has been volunteering with Chinese clan association, Kong Chow Wui Koon, since she was 14. She’s 28 this year, so that makes it half her life. Beyond her local commitments, she has also done several overseas charity stints in Thailand and India. Her India project took her to Punjab for three months where she served as interim centre manager for a NGO working on migrants empowerment.

“While these experiences overseas were definitely eye-openers, they made me realise that I should be spending more time helping those in Singapore instead,” she explains. That made her decide to join Young NTUC, where she’s helping senior citizens at the NTUC SilverACE centre @ Bukit Merah.

She also tries to ensure that her activities with Young NTUC is able to make the most impact. For example, she has observed that many of the residents at the centre do not get much interaction with youths and children as they tend to live alone and their children and grandchildren do not visit them often and so, as much as possible, the volunters do their best to engage with the same group of residents during their bi-monthly visits so they get to build relationships and it’s not simply “touch-and-go”.

When asked what’s her most impressionable event with Young NTUC, she says it has to be the Chinese New Year carnival she has organised alongside five other SilverACE centres. Together, they had put together a heritage trail with food and activities tailored around Singapore’s past such as serving suan pan zi and playing games using the blocks of the samsui women. They even presented a fashion show featuring occupations of yesteryear such as the mata mata and satay women. It was a huge success and they hope to put together another such carnival this year. They have also organised excursions for the senior citizens to visit her clan association and to enjoy traditional Cantonese opera.

Additionally, Lynn wants the seniors they are helping to feel like they still can have a part to play in society and they too are helping the lives of the volunteers. With that in mind, she started True Origins SG, a self-funded project to encourage inter-generation bonding. One interesting activity True Origins has conducted was a cookout at NTUC SilverACE centre @ Bukit Merah where the seniors took on an instructor role for the day and taught the youth volunteers how to prepare traditional local snacks such as soon kueh and Hakka lei cha.

When speaking to Lynn, I felt the genuine passion and this fire in her in wanting to do more, and as much as she can for society.

It is certainly admirable and I hope this fire never dies.