Tag Archives: ONE (SINGAPORE)

Vernetta Lopez’s speech as outgoing President of ONE (SINGAPORE)

15 Mar 2013

This is our 8th AGM and I’m very proud of where ONE (SINGAPORE) is now.

It’s been such a pleasure watching the society grow with its different events and benchmarks. We’ve identified our strengths and continue to do what our mission requires: to spread awareness and take concrete actions to Make Poverty History.

And we’ve progressed in our mission through various film series’, through dialogue sessions where we’ve had luminaries join our panel like Mdm Yacob Ibrahim, Bridget Tan and Braema Mathi.

And through 2 different benchmarks to make a tangible difference in peoples’ lives. Our Everyone Can Warehouse Sale where everyone was invited to purchase a list of items for our designated charity, and our One Singapore Food Drive where droves of cars with generous citizens helped us to raise several thousands of dollars worth of food for the needy.

Our efforts have also grown with the help of amazing corporate partners who have demonstrated an amazing CSR spirit. Like Schneider Electric, Lenovo, GPS Azea and Dimension Data, Pernod Ricard to name a few, especially so through CAP, our Corporate Adoption Program.

My role with ONE (SINGAPORE) has been a small but meaningful one and I’m not being self-effacing. Nope. Because I’ve been working with a team of truly amazing, hard working, self-sacrificing, passionate, earnest, exceptional, impassioned, fun bunch of people, who have made every event meaningful, and given so much of their time, and truly their personal lives, to make every event that ONE (SINGAPORE) does, count.

It’s been my absolute honor to be a part of this and having been President for 5 years, I feel it is time to pass the baton onward, to keep the spirit growing with fresh ideas, new inspirations and perspectives.

So as of today I officially step down as President and pat down the seat, to make way for a new President to take the reigns and gallop into a new frontier, to go where no President has gone before.

I’m a Star Trek fan.

Our President Elect is someone who is passionate, talented, vocal and is very active within her personal and professional life. And if she is elected, I am very sure she will do an excellent job at bringing ONE (SINGAPORE) forward!

I will still be an active volunteer and member of ONE (SINGAPORE) especially so with my links within the media.

I would like to especially thank Michael Switow, Co-Founder of ONE (SINGAPORE), his invaluable advice, amazing persistence, incredible integrity and never dying innate spirit to help. And that goes for the Exco as well.

I really wish to thank the Exco for putting up with me, for allowing me to take us into new projects and different directions, and for supporting me in so many ways. I apologize for anything that I may have done wrong. I truly am grateful for your partnership and amazing energy and spirit. And I wish you a continuing and fruitful journey towards Making Poverty History.

Thank you and have a great 2013!

Watch her speech

Impressions from the ONE Food Drive

By Melissa Chong

Cars stream in during an 8-hour food drive, greeted by ONE (SINGAPORE) volunteers and Class 95FM DJs Vernetta Lopez, Jean Danker, Glenn Ong and Marilyn Lee. The DJs are visibly touched by the overwhelming generosity of donors opening their hearts as well as their wallets.

The event – The ONE Food Drive – is organised by ONE (SINGAPORE) with the support of Class 95FM to collect food for the hungry.

Wait – hunger in Singapore?

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“It’s amazing, I didn’t realise our car boot could fit so much stuff!” chuckle a group of ladies while unloading thirteen sacks of rice into the warehouse. They vouch that they are loyal Class 95FM listeners who heard the radio announcement and emptied the shelves of a NTUC supermarket to help out.

Joseph Sim, a father of two young children, also hit the stores the same day after hearing the radio announcement. He arrives with bags of assorted groceries worth $480.

“I wanted to teach my children from a young age that we should donate when we can”, he tells us.

Jointly organized by ONE (SINGAPORE) and Class 95FM, a publicity campaign including social media has been launched to encourage the donation of non-perishable food items to the those in need.

“We traded a few ideas and decided – let’s start with something really basic which people can grasp, something which everyone can get involved in. So we said ok, let’s tackle hunger”, explains Michael Switow, co-founder of ONE (SINGAPORE).

And yes, hunger does exist in prosperous Singapore. While there are no official statistics, a commmunity survey by Food for All in 2009 noted that some 12,000 Singaporean households rely on supplementary food rations provided by Family Service Centres, Residential Committees (RCs) and charities.

Food items collected in the drive are being given to two beneficiary group: The Food Bank Singapore and Willing Hearts.

“ONE (SINGAPORE) would like to bring attention to groups which don’t receive as much attention”, Michael adds.

Bulk items collected in the food drive are donated to Willing Hearts – a local soup kitchen that cooks 3,000 meals for various distributions points across the island, every day of the year. To run operations at such a massive scale, they depend heavily on the goodwill of donors and say the food collected through this drive will go a long way.

“It’s about one-months supply of food. From here, the food will go to our kitchen. We’ll serve meals to old folks, the sick, single parents and jobless. Many live in one-room, two-room flats. It’s a wide range of people”, says Charles Liew, Treasurer of Willing Hearts.

Assorted bags of food collected in the drive are donated to The Food Bank Singapore, which partners with a broad range of charities and volunteer welfare groups to distribute food to families and individuals in need. Although operations started in April 2012, this organisation is already a media sensation, receiving recognition in the 2012 National Day speech.

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According to The Food Bank Singapore, corporate donors often want to donate food in bulk but beneficiaries rarely have sufficient storage space.

“Because of our linkage with FoodXervices, we can settle the logistics of sending the food to beneficiaries. For example, recently a company donated 250 cartons of French fries. Where is the charity going to store it? That’s when we come into the picture,” explains Michael Teo, a co-ordinator at The Food Bank Singapore.

A convoy of 25 to 30 cars arrives from Schneider Electric, a multinational electric engineering company, pledging more than $10,000 worth of food. Not long after, a truckload arrives from Nestle with cartons of Nestle products including Milo, Nestum cereal and Maggi noodles.

The food collected is helping thousands of individuals from the unemployed to the elderly and making a clear stance that no one in Singapore should go hungry.

This article was edited by Emma Gatehouse. Photos by Joy Wong.

Related Articles

And yes, hunger does exist in prosperous Singapore. While there are no official statistics, a commmunity survey by Food for All in 2009 noted that some 12,000 Singaporean households rely on supplementary food rations provided by Family Service Centres, Residential Committees (RCs) and charities.

Food items collected in the drive are being given to two beneficiary group: The Food Bank Singapore and Willing Hearts.

“ONE (SINGAPORE) would like to bring attention to groups which don’t receive as much attention”, Michael adds.

Bulk items collected in the food drive are donated to Willing Hearts – a local soup kitchen that cooks 3,000 meals for various distributions points across the island, every day of the year. To run operations at such a massive scale, they depend heavily on the goodwill of donors and say the food collected through this drive will go a long way.

“It’s about one-months supply of food. From here, the food will go to our kitchen. We’ll serve meals to old folks, the sick, single parents and jobless. Many live in one-room, two-room flats. It’s a wide range of people”, says Charles Liew, Treasurer of Willing Hearts.

Assorted bags of food collected in the drive are donated to The Food Bank Singapore, which partners with a broad range of charities and volunteer welfare groups to distribute food to families and individuals in need. Although operations started in April 2012, this organisation is already a media sensation, receiving recognition in the 2012 National Day speech.

23 Jan 2013 (3)

According to The Food Bank Singapore, corporate donors often want to donate food in bulk but beneficiaries rarely have sufficient storage space.

“Because of our linkage with FoodXervices, we can settle the logistics of sending the food to beneficiaries. For example, recently a company donated 250 cartons of French fries. Where is the charity going to store it? That’s when we come into the picture,” explains Michael Teo, a co-ordinator at The Food Bank Singapore.

A convoy of 25 to 30 cars arrives from Schneider Electric, a multinational electric engineering company, pledging more than $10,000 worth of food. Not long after, a truckload arrives from Nestle with cartons of Nestle products including Milo, Nestum cereal and Maggi noodles.

The food collected is helping thousands of individuals from the unemployed to the elderly and making a clear stance that no one in Singapore should go hungry.

This article was edited by Emma Gatehouse. Photos by Joy Wong.

Related Articles

Banking for A Better Singapore

By Izyan Nadzirah

In a country that is already saturated with banks, it may seem something of a surprise that two siblings should decide to found yet another. But this is not your typical bank. Rather, with the establishment of The Food Bank Singapore, Nichol and Nicholas Ng have sought to invest in the wellbeing of the less fortunate using food as the main currency of trade.

Excess Food?

The siblings decided to establish The Food Bank Singapore in January 2012 after conducting extensive surveys with food companies and concluding that there are definitely “pockets of…excess food ‘floating’ around in [Singapore’s] food chain.”

The food bank is meant to make it easier for companies in the food industry and members of the public, to donate food at a central location as well as to ease the workload of Volunteer Welfare Organisations and charities that ensure families in need have access to food.

But Nicholas and Nichol had another reason for setting up the food bank as well, one that hits closer to home.

“We have a family business, FoodXervices, dealing with food,” explains Nicholas. “And over time, we realised that, although we mostly deal with non-perishable items, there were still instances where we threw away food.”

“We’re always on the lookout (to see) how we can be socially responsible Singaporeans, (so) it was only natural to begin to introduce corporate social responsibility within our own company.”

At first, FoodXervices collaborated with other companies facing similar issues. Soon afterwards, the Ng siblings opened The Food Bank Singapore.

What’s a food bank?

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The Food Bank Singapore, though the first of its kind in Singapore, is based on a concept that has been around for years

In essence, it is a place where Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies, food retailers, producers and members of the public can donate surplus or leftover foods. The food bank then matches the donations with VWOs and charities that distribute them to needy families.

The first food bank was founded 1967 in the US state of Arizona. A community dining room volunteer named John van Hegel realised that grocery stores were throwing out products which had damaged packaging or were nearing their expiration dates. With the help of St. Mary’s Basilica, he created a central location where grocers could drop off these unwanted perishables.

Over the past forty-five years, food banks have been established throughout America and Europe. In 2006 a Global Food Banking Network was set up, followed by a Food Bank Leadership Institute the following year, to provide a platform to educate, strengthen and expand existing food bank operations.

Banking Hopes and Food Dreams

Since its launch, The Food Bank Singapore has received monthly donations from companies, shops and concerned citizens, though the amount of food donated varies.

Nicholas recalls receiving a phone call from an expat recently who was in the midst of packing up to return to her home country and had come across a few non-perishable items. She wanted to know if they would accept small food donations – about three to four items in total.

“The Food Bank Singapore accepts all kinds of food donations – from a single can of tuna to cartons of dried bee hoon. What is extra to someone can provide for another or a whole family. Every bit counts,” says Nicholas.

When it comes to getting support from FMCGs, however, it can be pretty hard. Some companies are unwilling to contribute, notes Nichol, because they don’t fully understand corporate social responsibility. There are also companies who have a policy against such donations because they want to protect their brand. Nichol and Nicholas are positive though that by increasing public awareness, more and more companies will donate over time.

Word of Mouth

The siblings have depended mainly on word-of-mouth to create awareness of The Food Bank Singapore. Initially they would rely on business partners in the food industry and beneficiaries like The Salvation Army and Willing Hearts to spread the word. Recently, though, they’ve received more attention, including feature articles in The Straits Times and Lianzhe Zhaobao and at the Food Hotel Asia exhibition.

Students have also seeked their advice on how to conduct food donation drives and to find out about other avenues to support the food bank. Both Nicholas and Nichol are glad that there seems to be a strong sense of responsibility among the younger generation, which can help ensure the food bank’s success by publicising the project.

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The ONE Food Drive

On Saturday 17 November 2012, ONE (SINGAPORE) with the support of Class 95FM is organizing a food drive in support of The Food Bank Singapore and the soup kitchen, Willing Hearts.

“The Food Bank Singapore is a fantastic initiative to match food donations with people who need assistance and those working to help them,” explains ONE (SINGAPORE) president Vernetta Lopez, when asked why ONE (SG) chose to work with the food bank. “It’s a new charity – just founded this year – and so we’re really excited to tell more people about them.”

“Nichol and her brother are really inspiring,” adds ONE (SINGAPORE) co-founder Michael Switow. “We’ve worked with them for several years through the Every ONE Can programme, a grocery warehouse sale to support people in need. They’ve transformed their family business and made a solid commitment to the community. In fact, Nichol subsequently accepted an invitation to join ONE (SINGAPORE)’s Executive Committee.”

To learn more about how you can support the ONE Food Drive, go to www.onesingapore.org/onefooddrive.

Related Articles

This article was edited by Rob Teo. Images courtesy of The Food Bank Singapore

If Girls Spoke Up, the World Would Change

By Jaswinder Thethy

“Things won’t change overnight. We have to wake people up,” exclaims Sampat Pal, the founder of the “Gulabi Gang,” a group comprising hundreds of lower caste women in Uttar Pradesh, India that stands up to violence against women.

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Domestic abuse is still persistent in India even though there are laws against it. Rape and sexual abuse cases are rarely registered for fear of social stigma. Women often hide behind their veils rather than defend themselves. But the Gulabi Gang empowers women who are suffering from abuse and educates them about their rights.

Sampat and the Gulabi Gang are the focus of a documentary by British director Kim Longinotto called “Pink Saris,” which was recently screened at Singapore Management University by ONE (SINGAPORE) with the support of the British High Commission.

Being a woman, and coming from a British Indian background I was immediately drawn to this project. Plus it gave me an opportunity to wear a pink sari! I could hardly refuse to represent the High Commission on this one.

Longinotto’s documentary follows Sampat as she mediates on behalf of woman that turn to her for help. Sampat is assertive, fearless and extremely outspoken; she has a huge voice and her threats are often delivered in punchy one liners, though unfortunately the wit is at times lost in translation. Sampat herself is a former child bride and victim of abuse. However she took the unusual step of fighting back and risking disgrace by leaving her husband and village.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to her campaign is that Sampat can only do so much herself. She survives on donations and cannot always afford to lodge women who turn to her when they have nowhere else to go. In one case in the movie, Sampat returns a girl to her abusive in-laws. But first, she confronts the family in public. I can’t help but wonder if the young woman will continue suffering and I hoped the situation wasn’t made worse by Sampat’s intervention. In the end, it’s up to the girls to stand tall.

The documentary also reveals that Sampat still has complex personal issues to confront, especially when her motives are questioned. At one point, her longtime boyfriend asks if she is not being driven by ego, an accusation that appears to be at least partly true after Sampat proudly refers to herself as the “Messiah for Women”.

Regardless, there is no question that the Gulabi Gang is making a difference in the lives of women, men and children in Uttar Pradesh.

“If girls spoke up, the world would change,” Sampat says. “Be Brave”

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Jaswinder Thethy introducing “Pink Saris” at SMU.

About the Screening of Pink Saris in Singapore

The British High Commission supported ONE (SINGAPORE)’s screening of Pink Saris in collaboration with the Wee Kim Wee Centre to help mark International Women’s Day, the 8th of March, and to highlight the unjust treatment of many rural women.

Kirpal Singh, Associate Professor of English Literature, opened the event, after which, Jaswinder Thethy gave a short speech on the UK’s work in India, which includes investments in education for girls, providing access to finance, skills and low carbon energy, safe births, reducing violence against women, children’s health and nutrition.

Jaswinder Thethy is an Assistant Attaché at The British High Commission.

Related Links

Find out how to support the Gulabi Gang.

ONE (SG) to France: Set the right example with a Robin Hood Tax

By Thulasi Mahadevan

ONE (SINGAPORE) has joined an international campaign to send a clear message to France:  allocate a portion of new tax revenues from a Financial Transactions Tax (FTT) to finance development and fight climate change.

France is about to become the first European country to adopt the so-called “Robin Hood Tax” on financial transactions.  But contrary to promises that French President Nicolas Sarkozy made when he hosted the G20 last year, France is now talking about using proceeds from the tax solely for domestic use.

“A small tax on financial transactions, if implemented globally, could raise billions of dollars to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals and assist communities affected by climate change,” says ONE (SINGAPORE) co-founder Michael Switow.  “France is taking an important first step by adopting a Robin Hood Tax, but it must follow through by using a portion of the money to finance development and fight climate change.”

French President Sarkozy and German Chancellor Merkel had been commended by many anti-poverty campaigners for their commitments to push forward with a European FTT, a very small tax on financial transactions which if implemented globally could raise up to US$600 billion a year, funds that could be used to eradicate poverty, fight climate change and reduce budget deficits.

However in a television interview on 29 January, Sarkozy said that the unilateral FTT would be used for the national “deficit” and did not mention development or climate financing. Under pressure from French civil society, Sarkozy later said that a French FTT would still go to fund development and fight climate change, but no concrete steps have been taken by his government yet in this regard.

Proper implementation of a Robin Hood Tax in France will “set a precedent for future taxes on the financial sector, both across Europe and internationally . . . to tackle the challenges of poverty at home and abroad and address the impact of climate change,” wrote ONE (SINGAPORE) President Vernetta Lopez in a letter to France’s Ambassador to Singapore.  Other civil society organisations like Oxfam GB and ONE.org also sent letters to French embassies.  The ONE.org petition was signed by more than 60,000 people.

Last year, 1000 economists – including several Nobel Prize winners – called on the G20 to adopt a FTT.  More recently, faith-based leaders have added their voices to the call.

“The FTT comes at no extra cost for the average tax payer, who is shouldering the cost of responses to global crises,” notes a representative from CIDSE, the Catholic International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity.  “The financial sector has hugely profited from globalisation.  Through the FTT it could contribute to tackling global challenges, share the financial burden of global crises and contribute to assuring a safe and healthy future for people and the planet.”

In the United States, meanwhile, the largest nurses union has pledged to march for a US version of the tax on Wall Street institutions ahead of the the G-8 and NATO summits. It’s unclear whether the Obama administration’s decision to move the G-8 Summit from Chicago to “Camp David,” a more remote location, will affect the planned demonstrations.

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ADDITIONAL ARTICLES &  RESOURCES

Class 95FM adopts ONE (SINGAPORE)!

“At Class 95FM, we feel strongly that it’s important to contribute to the community
and to assist those in need” ~ Class 95FM programme director Erina Cook

Class 95FM, Singapore’s most popular English-language radio channel, is putting on a whiteband and showing its support for the movement to eradicate poverty by adopting ONE (SINGAPORE).

The whiteband – popularised in local and international celebrity videos highlighting the message that every few seconds a child dies from extreme poverty – is the international symbol of the movement to eradicate poverty.

“We’ve chosen to adopt ONE (SINGAPORE) because its values are in line with ours,”  says Erina Cook, the radio station’s senior programme director.  “It raises awareness of key issues and takes action on a number of interrelated fronts.”

As part of the adoption, Class 95FM will broadcast information about ONE (SINGAPORE)’s campaign and support events, like the upcoming “Every ONE Can” grocery warehouse sale in May.  “Every ONE Can,” now in its fourth year, raises in-kind food donations for individuals and families in need.

“At ONE (SINGAPORE), we believe in a world where no one is poor, be it overseas or here at home” says ONE (SINGAPORE) President Vernetta Lopez, who also co-hosts Singapore’s most popular English-language radio programme, The Morning Express.  “I joined ONE (SINGAPORE) because I wanted to make a difference. Class 95FM’s support will enable us to reach out further, engage more businesses in corporate adoptions and encourage more Singaporeans to play an active role in the community around them.”

Supporting community organisations is a strong part of MediaCorp Radio’s corporate culture.  Previous Class 95FM adopted organisations include the Breast Cancer Fund, Club Rainbow, MILK, Operation Smile and the SPCA.  And to celebrate radio’s 75th anniversary in 2011, MediaCorp Radio adopted 75 families in need of assistance, providing the beneficiaries with groceries, transport and utility vouchers and more.  ONE (SINGAPORE) helped MediaCorp Radio identify the beneficiaries.

How do we stop Human Trafficking?

How do we stop Human Trafficking?
Discussing “Child Prostitution, Human Trafficking and Poverty”
By ShuQi Liu

Across the globe, states appear to be giving a higher priority to drugs and wildlife smuggling, not to mention media piracy, than human trafficking. And did you know that, here in Singapore, trafficking victims – who often do not have access to their own passports, much less the freedom to leave their place of ‘work’ – are caned and jailed for overstaying their visas?

These are just two of the points raised in front of a congregation of white collared workers, tertiary students, academics and social activists on a recent Tuesday evening at Singapore Management University at an event organised by ONE (SINGAPORE) in association with SMU’s Wee Kim Wee Centre. Trafficking issues strike a chord in the hearts of many in our community, myself included, and this was clearly evident in the packed seminar room in SMU’s business school, where additional chairs had to be brought in to seat participants.

Complex Politics and Twice Persecuted

Professor Kirpal Singh, one of Singapore’s most prolific cultural critics, strides up to the front with a purposeful sense of insight. He observes that Singapore, as a country which both exports sex tourists and is a destination market for traffickers to send their victims, is in a curious position on the night’s topic.

“We are perhaps not doing anything concrete,” Kirpal notes. “The politics of the situation is complex, we are not aggressively firm, but have also shown unhappiness at the diplomatic level.”
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“How are we talking about the issue of human trafficking? When a woman shares a story of being duped by a promise of quick money in Singapore, only to be forced into the sex trade, do we ask ‘how could she have been so blind?” As individuals we need to suspend judgement of the victims.” ~ Braema Mathi

“There are no disparities in human trafficking – it affects men, women, boys and girls”, adds Braema Mathi, a former president of AWARE (the Association of Women for Action and Research) and ex-Nominated Member of Parliament.

And worse still, individuals who have been coerced or tricked into coming to Singapore – with the promise of a high-paying manufacturing or service-industry job, when in reality the work is in a brothel or pays significantly less than promised – are often treated as law-breakers here rather than victims.

“Victims of human trafficking often undergo double punishment when the state’s identity pushes individuals into another dimension. In Singapore, those trafficked are first charged with illegal immigration and then sentenced to jail and even caning.”

Braema notes though that changes in Singapore’s political scene mean that ministers and government agencies are more open to feedback, which provides concerned citizens with greater opportunity to voice out about injustices.

Indeed, Singaporeans need to be more proactive, vocal and aware on this issue. We need to stop questioning or blaming victims and work instead to protect their rights and confront the roots of the problem.

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Eliminating poverty and empowering women are key components in the campaign to end human trafficking.

Four, no Five, P’s

The second speaker, Pia Charlotte Bruce, Executive Director of UN Women Singapore, addressed the topic from a social perspective, noting that high mobility, international travel and economic growth contribute to Singapore’s susceptibility. Like other activists, Pia calls for a 4P strategy to overcome these vulnerabilities:

→ Prevention  –   raise awareness, reduce poverty and improve health & education

→ Protection   –   align local laws with international standards and better training for police and immigration officials

→ Prosecution –   stronger penalties and protection of whistle-blowers

→ Partnership  –   to effectively implement laws at the regional and international levels.

To this, Rachel Chhoa-Howard, a researcher at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, adds a 5th “P”, an underlying cause: Poverty. Chhoa-Howard argues that poverty in the region is a key driver of trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

Sex Tourism and Trafficking

But if there was no demand, there would be no industry for traffickers to exploit. And unfortunately, Singaporeans are among the most numerous sex tourists in Thailand and at least 3000 Singaporeans and Malaysians take a ferry to neighboring Batam for sex every week.

Singaporean law provides for extraterritorial jurisdiction for Singaporean citizens and permanent residents who exploit children in other countries. But this law goes unenforced. Rachel points out that Singapore has never prosecuted or convicted a citizen or PR for having sexual relations with a child outside the country.

Last but not least, Bridget Tan, founder and president of H.O.M.E., added a very personal perspective to the discussion.

“One of the girls we took in had escaped from a brothel in Geylang. She refused to talk for one month,” Bridget shared. “The only person she could relate to was a pet dog in the shelter. When she was finally ready to tell her story, we found out that she had been gang-raped every time. And she was old enough to be my daughter. Despite the experience of extreme violation and severe trauma, she was repatriated after six months without any compensation. Is this even justifiable?”

While I know that these things happen, stories like this shock me . . . particularly that something like this can happen in the heart of Singapore, my home.

Better Policies Needed

Bridget also highlighted several areas for change that H.O.M.E. is championing and which we can all work together to achieve, including

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Hani Mohamed produced the short film “Innocence” to move Asian leaders to put a stop to human trafficking and child prostitution.

→ a Victims Assistance Programme

→ drafting and advocating for a legal definition of trafficking, as none currently exists in Singapore

→ better training on the issue for police, lawyers and judges

→ equal partnerships between civil society advocates and government agencies

The presentations were followed by a short film produced by ONE (SINGAPORE) Secretary Hani Mohamed showcasing child sex and human trafficking in Geylang, the popular red-light district here. In the film, a man logs onto the internet, makes a booking on a pornographic website then proceeds to meet a locked-up girl, all within a few hours. In a choked voice, Hani recollects the inspiration behind the film, a segment on The May Lee Show that described how pimps and traffickers threatened unwilling sex workers by caging them and ‘stuffing chillies in their private parts’.

Clearly, no one should be subjected to the brutality of trafficking, much less because of poverty. And every child should be able to enjoy a carefree and joyful childhood. Together, we can work together to manifest a better world. As well-travelled and educated Singaporeans, we can engage ourselves . . . by volunteering at a shelter, boycotting services offered by illegal syndicates, raising awareness among our friends and family so that no one blames the victims and campaigning for policies that will put an end to these evils.

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Beans, Eggs & Tinned Fish: Room to Grow Fights Malnutrition, One Bite at a Time

Nearly 180 migrant children – forced to leave their homes in Burma following political violence and climate disasters – are eating more nutritious meals thanks to support from ONE (SINGAPORE) and its partners.  However funding for these programmes expires in April and May, unless new partners step forward.

The children stay or live near one of three schools and boarding houses, which provide shelter and education to children who have been orphaned, abandoned or separated from their families by conflict. Malnutrition is a serious issue in these communities. A recent survey by Room to Grow indicates that more than 40 percent of migrant students in this area are showing signs of stunted growth due to poor diets.

ONE (SINGAPORE) funding is used to purchase and deliver yellow lentils and eggs, which provide protein in a rice and vegetable diet that is otherwise protein deficient. During the last quarter of 2011, an additional contribution by ONE (SINGAPORE) provided money for rice, vegetables, protein, condiments, tinned fish and multivitamins to be served to children at the Shwe The Zin boarding school.

Not everything goes as smoothly as we’d like. Due to problems with a supplier, the delivery of vitamins did not start in November as planned, but in January instead. ONE (SINGAPORE)’s support will still provide a five-month supply of the multi-vitamins.

Room to Grow meanwhile organised nutrition workshops for cooks and teachers from 21 schools, including the three supported by ONE (SINGAPORE). The course equipped them with proper knowledge on preparing healthy meals.

“The children like to eat yellow bean soup more than the other curries. We also cook egg curry twice a week and tinned fish three or four times a week,” says a teacher/cook at STZ. “If we don’t go to the market, we cook tinned fish and veggies that are from our school garden.”

“The children get energy by eating those curries,” adds the school’s garderner who is also the assistant cook. “And it is very nutritious for the children. We also adjust children’s meals with nutrition sources that we learned from the nutrition training. One good news is that we use less MSG in the curries.”

The young migrants staying in these boarding houses clearly appreciate the meals.

“I am a boy who overeats,” says a Grade 3 student at SAW who loves the meals at the centre. “Sometimes, I get in eating competitions with my friends. For breakfast, I usually have rice and egg but we eat beans and rice also every week. For dinner, I like to eat bean and meat curries. I want the donor to watch us when we are eating so they can see how much I eat.”

During the funding period, nearly 245 kilograms of yellow lentils, 1445 eggs and 57 kilograms of rice were delivered and consumed by the children.

Additional Resources

Voices from “Room to Grow”

ONE (SINGAPORE) and its partners support a nutrition programme run by the Room to Grow Foundation in schools and boarding houses near the Thai-Burmese border. Nearly 180 migrant children – forced to leave their homes in Burma following political violence and climate disasters and currently living in areas where malnutrition is common – have been eating better meals, with more protein and vitamins, thanks to this initiative. However funding expires in April and May, unless new partners step forward. Here are some of the ‘Room to Grow’ voices . . .

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Related Articles and Resources

Every ONE Can – The Numbers Are In!

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The FoodXervices’ Team at Every ONE Can

Every ONE Can was a whopping success this year! More products, more purchases at wholesale prices and donations for Willing Hearts that filled a truckload! In a nutshell, products purchased have a wholesale value of more than S$17,000. However patrons actually spent about S$13,000, because of the discounts offered on the day of the event. This is actual savings as opposed to retail prices where they would have spent at least S$19- 20K!Willing Hearts

Among the items purchased for donation: cranberry juice, chilli garlic sauce, rice, noodles and much more. We filled up a truck and then some. Charles Liew of Willing Hearts says the donation would probably last two weeks if used all at once, but since the organisation has other ingredients in stock as well, it “will use some items now and others later.”

Willing Hearts prepares and delivers meals to some 2500 people everyday. Unfortunately the number of people needing assistance keeps growing. When ONE (SINGAPORE) first met Willing Hearts at the beginning of the year, it was serving about 1500 people a day.

Several partner organisations — Gift & Take, Hummingfish Foundation (Ai-Funan), Mother and Child Project, TWC2 and Willing Hearts — set up booths at Every ONE Can to raise awareness of their causes and funds for disadvantaged groups. So in addition to grocery shopping, customers also had the chance to look for that”one of a kind” item during the event and show their support for these awesome boutiques. Among the items for sale by the social enterprises, there were organic soaps made by East Timorese women, candles, children’s books, t-shirts, unique eco-friendly gifts and handicrafts.

10 Nov 2011 (2)

We would like to express our heartfelt THANKS to FoodXervices, as well as the partners and patrons who made Every ONE Can a fun and eventful day for all!

Every ONE Can feeds a hungry person. Every ONE Can Stand Up and Make a Difference. Every ONE Can Make Poverty History!

Additional Resources

  • Every ONE Can 2011
  • Check out the photos on our Flickr page and let us know which is your favorite!