“I can only afford to send you to a state university and if you don’t pass the exams and gets a scholarship, I’m not sure how you’ll finish college”
Those are my mother’s words days after I took my first entrance exam for college.
I have many people to thank for who helped me finish school. I remember working for Jollibee in the afternoon after attending classes in the morning. I remember borrowing 1,500 pesos from my friend’s mom to complete my tuition fee and then paying it off only to borrow it again the next semester. I remember my brother letting go of studying at his dream school because we can’t afford to both study in the city. There were nights that my mom will not sleep because she is busy baking cakes and cookies to provide for the three of us. I remember my friends pooling their money for me so I can join our group outing. Or throwing for me a 18th birthday party because I can’t afford it that time. It’s all those small help that got me through university. And of course, let’s not forget my first job. I got news from a friend about the position, I applied then good thing the boss liked me.
So now, I have put myself on a mission to empower others just like how I got help during my younger years. It is like returning to the world the kindness I have experienced and continuing the cycle of giving and receiving. To empower someone can be a lot of things. You can donate money, you can be a befriender, you can be a mentor, you can cook for others, you can pack food in hot kitchens, whatever suits your time. Or maybe, you don’t need to go that far, you might have friends that needs encouragement more than your unsolicited advices.
It is easy to judge others that they are the ones to blame for having a miserable life. We miss to see that we have options that others don’t. At the height of the Covid- 19 pandemic we saw a glaring difference among social classes; the disparity in privileges and the possibility of a bigger gap after the pandemic. I am not blaming people for having such convenient lives but maybe, we can ask, what can we do to help others with opportunities that we have today?
Just imagine if not for those who lend me what they have, will I ever be in this position now?
There is a saying: “Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” It is important that we help them integrate to our current society so they may support themselves in the future. We can help others by teaching them skills, or maybe introducing them to a new life perspective or usually, just being a cheerer on the side for them is enough.
Currently, I am supporting several groups here in Singapore. I allot one day each week to catch up with my tasks. Being a volunteer gave me a bigger perspective on things. Singapore is a rich country and it has helped me provide more for my love ones in the Philippines. By being of service to the “economically challenged” sector of its society, it became my chance to give back. By enabling those who are yet to be ready to join the workforce, I am doing my part to not only secure Singapore’s growth now but for the coming years to come. This gives me a sense of accomplishment.
Here are some organisations you may look into:
1. Willing Hearts – Prepare food for other people
Willing Hearts is a 100% volunteer-run soup kitchen which cooks and distributes about 3,000 meals to the needy every day. With the vision of improving the lives of the underprivileged through the provision of their ‘daily bread’, Willing Hearts guides them through rehabilitation and integration into society.
Note: Please show up on time when you signed up as a volunteer because now that we are in a pandemic, they accept less volunteers to work in the kitchen.
Address: 11 Jalan Ubi Blk 6, #01-51, Kembangan – Chai Chee Community Hub, Singapore 409074
Telephone: 6743 0725
How to Volunteer: Register on their Eventbrite page
2. Daughters of Tomorrow -Be a Befriender
More than 25,000 women from low-income families in Singapore are struggling to find and sustain a living. Daughters Of Tomorrow aims to support these women towards gainful employment and a better future.
I am a Befriender at DOT and through conversations with my beneficiaries I had the chance to listen more, to judge less and to see opportunities in times that it looks that there is none.
Address: 12 Arumugam Road The Common Ground Singapore 409961 (By Appointment Only)
How to Volunteer: https://daughtersoftomorrow.org/volunteers/ways-to-volunteer/
3. Project Smile
Through referrals from Family Service Centres and applications from the general public, Project SMILE identifies beneficiaries who would benefit from their assistance to uplift them from their dire circumstances. The aim of the assistance is to help the women get themselves and their families back on track with their lives. The ladies of Project Smile handmade home decors, table wares and masks that are good as corporate giveaways.
Address: 26A Norris Road Singapore 208268
How to Volunteer: send them a message via the email address above
4. Donate Money to Different Institutions
If you do not have time or the expertise to be a volunteer or mentor, you can also donate money. I have personal experience with two namely, 365 Cancer Prevention Society and Bone Marrow Donor Programme.
You can arrange a GIRO for monthly donations or you can do it one time. Donations to recognized organizations are eligible for tax deductions.
Thank you to all who have helped me and my family one way or another. Let us all continue to be kinder for all the days to come.
We do not need to help everyone, we can start with one.