Story by Jonathan Tan, LabourBeat/ Photos by Jonathan Tan, LabourBeat and Young NTUC
While many of us enjoyed the weekend break, some 1,000 volunteers made a beeline for Tampines on 20 January 2019, where they helped spread some festive Lunar New Year cheer to underprivileged families and seniors.
The volunteers rolled up their sleeves to clean, declutter, paint and replace old or broken furniture and household appliances in 95 homes. They also pitched in with festive decorations and distributed homemade cookies, mandarin oranges and red packets to the beneficiaries.
This may be the 12th edition of Young NTUC’s Project Refresh, but it was also the largest to date, with participation from union members, school students, corporate, grassroot and community organisations as well as fellow Tampines residents.
“Project Refresh is a very meaningful way for us to enable our community, be they young or old, to understand the needs in our community better so that we can each lend a helping hand to make Singapore a more caring, inclusive and loving place for all residents,” said Minister of Finance Heng Swee Keat, who was guest-of-honour at the event together with fellow members of the Tampines Group Representation Constituency.
Adding on, NTUC Assistant Secretary-General and Young NTUC Executive Secretary Desmond Choo said: “My biggest takeaway is in seeing how NTUC can play an amplifying role for Singaporeans from all walks of life. As workers, we can unify our strengths to reach out to different segments of society and make a real difference. Seeing more youths participate is very encouraging, but it also tells us that we have a lot of untapped energies that can be used to make a bigger difference.”
A Means To Give Back
“I’ve participated in overseas community service projects, but as I reflected, I realise that there is a lot that we can already do here in Singapore. As a Tampines resident myself, it’s something that I can do to help out.
“It is really nice to see a real Kampung spirit, where we have unions, schools, corporate partners and more being a part of Project Refresh. As a volunteer leader, I think that it is more meaningful when we have more people coming together to help each other in this gotong royong spirit,” shared Young Singapore Teacher’s Union leader Suhaimi Zainal Shah.
The 29-year-old has played a key role in Project Refresh since the first iteration in 2016.
Volunteer Damon Goh, 29, also goes a long way back in the home refreshing projects together with his friends.
“It felt like a calling for me to be able to reach out to members in the community who needed help, so when Project Refresh started, I got started in the first one and never looked back,” he shared.
The efforts from these volunteers may last a day, but the positive impact on the beneficiaries goes well beyond that.
“I’m speechless, really speechless and touched. From the bottom of my heart, I’m grateful to these volunteers and appreciate them coming to help us with our home. Thank you so much, said 65-year-old Mr Wong Cher Khoon (pictured below with his wife, Mdm Zubaidah Endut).
“If these young volunteers are willing and happy to be helping me with decluttering and painting my home, I am also very happy to have them here,” said Mr Burhan (pictured below), who is wheelchair-bound following the amputation of one of his legs.
Scroll on down to see more of the volunteers in action in various parts of Tampines: