Teams of volunteers converge on a void deck nestled between Bedok North residences on a sunny Saturday morning in March. They form a long queue to collect and pack fresh vegetables and other groceries, being distributed by another dozen volunteers. After completing one round – paying attention to bundle halal food for Muslims and pork dishes for Chinese families – each volunteer gets back in line to repeat the process. Afterwards, they divide into teams, steered by local community members, to deliver the food bundles to 130 low-income families living in the neighbourhood.
The project, made possible by a corporate donation and organised on 25 March in collaboration with a local community partner, kicks off the 2017 ONE (SINGAPORE) Member/Volunteer Action Programme.
Some twenty-five ONE (SINGAPORE) volunteers spent the better part of a Saturday afternoon in service to the community, assisting families that one way or another have trouble making ends meet at the end of the month.
"I'm volunteering with ONE (SINGAPORE) because I want to make an impact in the Singapore community and connect with like-minded people who want to do the same," explains volunteer Omar Rachid.
“I want to thank you all very much,” a recipient, who had been hospitalised for some time and unable to work, tells us. He shares his family’s story and explains how he instils a sense of gratitude and humility in each of his children.
Many of the families that we visit recount how they face problems paying for groceries, water, and electricity at the end of each month. Singapore does not have an official poverty line, however researchers estimate that some 387,000 Singaporeans do not have the resources to fulfil their basic needs, including food, shelter, clothing and other essential expenditures. That means that more than 1 in 10 Singaporeans is living in poverty.
Another resident in a nearby block impassionately shares how grateful she is for the fresh produce, as she heads out to work. She is the sole income earner for her children and parents. Stories like these repeat themselves as our volunteers knock on doors in different blocks throughout the afternoon.
Even though quite a number of the recipients in the Bedok North neighbourhood are employed, they simply do not earn enough to make ends meet. Their stories are unfortunately not unique. Low-income workers are estimated to account for approximately 60% of all Singaporeans living in poverty. The unemployed, underemployed and the elderly, particularly older women, also face higher rates of poverty.
While volunteers bundled and distributed groceries for the March kick-off of the 2017 ONE (SINGAPORE) Member/Volunteer Action Programme, future events in the series will have a variety of activities in line with ONE (SINGAPORE)’s focus areas. If you or your organisation would like to sponsor an Action Programme event, please contact us today! You can also take action by filling up our volunteer form, which provides specific information on volunteer opportunities, here or joining ONE (SINGAPORE) as a member.
If you would like to know when the next Member/Volunteer Action Programme outing will be happening, please follow us on social media where you will get the most up-to-date information on ONE (SINGAPORE) events.
To view more photos, check out this album on Facebook.
This article was written by Katie Powell Rachid.