HEN is an acronym for Helping and Empowering our Neighbours. This is an initiative a group of like minded friends and I have started recently to help the less fortunate amongst us. We have a staggering 20% of our population who are suffering in poverty ( according to Prof Tommy Koh our guest speaker at our NMS End of Training Celebrations at Eden Hall on 27th Mar 2018). 20% works out to an estimated 800,000 families of the 4 million resident population in Singapore. Isn't it alarming? Singapore is an incredibly rich nation and to have this alarming number of people below poverty line is unbelievable.
Most Singaporeans are incredulous when I mention that there are poor amongst us. Why? Singapore government does a great job concealing poverty. It offers cheap rental of HDB flats so that you don't see homeless people sleeping on the bus stop benches or in the beaches. It also gives out handouts to help these families tide through. Beggars are quickly attended to and kept off the streets. So as to give a squeaky clean image to investors and tourists. Don't get me wrong. I am not a political activist. I just believe that more can be done to reduce this 20% to maybe 10%? Am I being overly ambitious? I sure am and being ambitious is undeniably a great start to success.
I began asking close friends in early March who declined politely.. I understand it can be quite a stretch of your time if you are working full time. So on the 24th March I sent out a long message to my National Museum group chat seeking any friends who may have the same passion to help this forgotten community. To my absolute delight, I got immediate positive respones from so many of my fellow docents. Now we are a quite a strong group and we have had a couple of meetings where we did our brainstorming. Our mission? Helping the poor by assisting them with dry food rations on a monthly basis while Empowering them with skills that they may learn from us or through our network of friends and families. Singapore is so small, when you look out of your home, everyone is our neighbour. Hence, HEN - Helping and Empowering our Neighbours.
I once saw while walking along a neighbourhood near my place - on the right hand side of the road (Bedok South Road) were beautiful terrace houses with a couple of cars parked in their driveway while on the left I was met with 1 bedroom HDB apartments. The contrast in inequality was striking.
We are still in our early planning stages and we are stumbling in the dark. We haven't even set up our website yet. We will face many challenges along the way, no doubt. But where there is a will, there will always be a way, won't it? We'll pull this through, I'm confident. A Swiss lady Lara C said Inshallah at the end of our inaugural meeting on Tuesday. I was pleasantly surprised but it was an apt conclusion. Inshallah is an Islamic term which means with God's will, anything is possible.
So what can you do to help? HEN welcomes any kind of assistance :
Time seems to be the most precious commodity these days. Everyone can donate food rations or money but time? Not everyone can do that. To actually sit down, hold an elderly lady’s hand and listen to her reminisce about her younger days as she looks into the far distance? Can you envision that heartwarming scene? That moment of serenity that you bring to her world - that is precious. Or to counsel a troubled youth and set him in the right direction. The world of difference you are going to make to his future? That is equally precious. Some things which money can't buy.
If you would like to help in any of the above ways or become a member of HEN committee because you are bursting with new ideas to help the less fortunate in Singapore, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can’t wait to hear from you!!
My home is
usually in a mess and has dust settled on almost everything. But I believe laughter and love will win the day. In 20 years, my girls won't remember how messy the house was but will remember the time we spent together and the love they felt...