SGCares2018

SG Cares – Singaporeans Contributing Overseas

They may be far away from home, but Singaporeans overseas actively contribute to good causes, whether in their current community, or those back in Singapore. Here are some Singaporeans who have made a difference to their overseas community!

OSU

As a saying by author Mark Twain goes, “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

 

True to that universal language, Singaporeans overseas actively contribute to good causes, though they may be far away from home. Here are some who have made a difference in their respective overseas communities!

 

Khoo Li Lin (Hong Kong, China)
Organiser, Little Red Dot Volunteers Group (LRDVolunteers)

KhooLiLin

 

Tell us more about the initiative you're involved in, in Hong Kong.

LRDVolunteers was established in July 2017 as a sub-division of the Little Red Dot Meetup Group, to provide Singaporeans in Hong Kong with opportunities to give back in our home away from home. We aim to bring more awareness to the needs of the underprivileged, and to inspire more Singaporeans to step forward as volunteers, or to champion the causes close to their heart.  The group meets at least once a month, with each session seeing a regular turnout of around 20-25 Singaporeans and other friends.

 

This past year, we’ve mainly focused on the homeless situation in Hong Kong, and we partner with and support local charities that have been working for this cause. For example, we’ve partnered with ImpactHK on Kindness Walks, to raise funds and distribute food and other supplies to the homeless in Sham Shui Po. With the Christian Concern for the Homeless Association, we participate in Interactive Visits at homeless activity centers and/or hostels in Sham Shui Po, where we spend half a day interacting with beneficiaries. We have also partnered with Crossroads Foundation to further understand the needs of the less privileged around Hong Kong and beyond, and to help in sorting and packing much needed supplies for these communities. 

 

LRDVolunteers
LRDVolunteers at a Kindness Walk earlier this year


How do you feel about being able to contribute to the community, despite being away from Singapore?

It doesn’t matter where you come from, or where you currently are, to be able to contribute to the community you live in. I wanted to be able to leave behind meaningful footprints in my home away from home, to show a little care and kindness along the way, and to encourage fellow Singaporeans in Hong Kong to see this vibrant city through a different set of lens.  

Through these volunteer sessions, I’ve been very encouraged by the kindness and generosity of our fellow Singaporeans in Hong Kong, who are always willing to free up their schedules to serve the community. It makes me very proud of us overseas Singaporeans.


What advice do you have for other overseas Singaporeans who wish to contribute to their community?

As you embrace your new life abroad and the new experiences it brings, don’t forget to look around for opportunities to show a little kindness. There are a lot of people in need around us. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who needs help even if there are language barriers or if it’s something out of your comfort zone. A little kindness always goes a long way.


Information on signing up for LRD HK’s volunteer activities is usually put up on the group’s Meetup page  and the LRD Facebook page  about two weeks prior to the scheduled dates. Interested Singaporeans can join the pages for regular updates on their monthly volunteer events.

 

 

 

Sean Pang (Shanghai, China)
Founder, Kechara Soup Kitchen (Shanghai)

 

SeanPang

Tell us more about Kechara Soup Kitchen (Shanghai).

 

Kechara Soup Kitchen (Shanghai) was inspired by Kechara Soup Kitchen (KSK) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. KSK (KL) had already been serving thousands of meals every week to homeless people for 7 years when my wife and I first came across them in 2011. Determined to do something similar in Shanghai,  we started our first food distribution on 26th November 2011. Since that day, we continue to distribute food every Saturday without fail.

 

Besides distributing food, we also collect donations in the form of seasonal clothings and items, daily amenities and festive food/snacks. We also arrange for haircuts for the homeless by one of our volunteers, a trained hairdresser who was also homeless for a short period of time. For this year’s Chinese New Year, a few of our volunteers hosted an afternoon get-together and dinner for the older homeless folks at a restaurant, to let them know they were still remembered.

 

Over the past 6 years, we’ve arranged special medical care for a number of our elderly beneficiaries. We have also given a few younger homeless persons a chance to find jobs, or provide the support they may need if they are new to Shanghai and looking for work. Some may not be our direct beneficiaries, like the volunteer hairdresser, but he received the same kind of support when he needed it, and now he’s giving back through us. We do what we can to help. We may not be able to get them off the streets, but we can add some warmth to their lives. 

KSKShanghai
Sean with KSK (Shanghai) volunteers

How do you feel about being able to contribute to the community, despite being away from Singapore?

 

I feel blessed and fortunate to be in a position to give. In the comfort of our homes, we tend to forget that many around the world are in dire need of life's basics, like food, shelter and kindness. 

I also feel humbled. Even as we carry out our charity work from a position of giving, we also learn from those who receive – about how resilient the human will can be when faced with adversity. 

We may have made some difference in the lives of those in need, but they have also made a difference in ours. For this, I'm grateful towards them.

 

 

What advice do you have for other overseas Singaporeans who wish to contribute to their community?

 

When we’re away from Singapore, it’s important to remember not to judge the host community using Singapore’s standards and values. Engage the local community to understand how things work – or does not work – where you live, and more importantly, why. To contribute effectively, give only what is needed - not what we would like to give or is convenient to do.

Another key to successful contribution is sustainability. Do not over-promise or be too ambitious. Think carefully about what you’re able to do consistently. Can you afford the time and effort? Will you engage in a one-time effort or will it be regular, e.g., every quarter, month, week? Go for something you’re passionate about, that you’re good at doing, and does not take too much effort. When activities become a chore, people tend to lose interest or motivation. It should be easy enough to sustain to give the biggest positive impact to the beneficiary. Make it a win-win arrangement.

 

One more thing that may be helpful: speaking the local language helps a lot. This would help when coordinating with fellow volunteers and engaging your beneficiaries. Even if communication is a barrier, you could also be an effective, independent contributor by contributing your skills and/or resources.

 

Follow KSK on their official WeChat account for updates on the initiative and their upcoming activities.

 

 

 

Siti Nurnadhirah Bte Mohd Ikhsan
President, Singapore Muslim Students Overseas (UK Chapter)

 

 

Tell us more about Singapore Community Day 2017 (London), and your role at the event.

Singapore Community Day celebrates the best of the Singapore community in the United Kingdom. At last year’s event, we had a concert that featured our very own musical and artistic talents, activities for the young and young-at-heart, and local food and brands. And true to the Singapore spirit, the event was mostly volunteer-run, with proceeds from the event going to the Community Chest. My role at the event was to oversee the event’s audio and visual arrangements.

 CommunityDay
Siti (right) with fellow volunteers at Singapore Community Day 2017 in London

How do you feel about being able to contribute to the community, despite being away from Singapore?

As a Singaporean, I realise I have benefitted so much from the kindness of fellow Singaporeans in so many ways. This ranges from the support I’d received through scholarships, to the camaraderie from fellow Singaporeans in the UK. So, being able to pay it back from afar is hugely rewarding.



What advice do you have for other overseas Singaporeans who wish to contribute to their community?

Whatever your skills or talents may be, there are always ways you can use them to contribute to the community. Singapore societies are a good place to start if you’re looking for such opportunities. You can always volunteer your time and energy – at the end of the day, your sincerity goes a long way.


Connect with fellow Singaporeans in the UK through these organisations:
United Kingdom Singapore Students’ Council (UKSSC) – http:///www.ukssc.org
Singapore UK Association (SUKA) – http://www.suka.org

Singapore Muslim Students Overseas (SMSO) - https://www.facebook.com/mysmso/

 

 

Danielle Tsi (San Francisco, USA)
Founder and President, Tapestry Suppers

DanielleTsi
Photo credit: © Miha Matei

 

Tell us more about Tapestry Suppers.

 

Tapestry Suppers is a social enterprise that offers dining experiences with a charitable approach. Our events celebrate the cuisines of underrepresented immigrant voices in the US, educate the public about the diversity of food cultures, and support charities that work with immigrant and underprivileged populations. We offer a variety of food-centric experiences, from potlucks to tasting menus. By providing an opportunity for people to gather, our events aim to strengthen relationships in local communities through real, in-person connections and conversations.

 

I started this organisation in February 2017 and as the founder of what is effectively a start-up, I do everything, from planning, writing and photography to event operations and book-keeping. After a year of events, we’ve built a small roster of enthusiastic volunteers who are stepping in to help with marketing and event-specific activities.

TapestrySuppers
Photo credit: © Miha Matei

How do you feel about being able to contribute to the community, despite being away from Singapore?

 

I feel empowered and encouraged by the reception we’ve had to this idea and to the events we’ve held so far. I’ve lived in Silicon Valley for a decade now, and like so many others who’ve moved here, this is as much ‘home’ as many of the countries where we come from.



What advice do you have for other overseas Singaporeans who wish to contribute to their community?

 

I would say that the most effective thing to do would be to pay attention to the people around you and find ways to give back, whether it’s bringing food to a sick neighbour or volunteering in a reading program at a local school. The most meaningful and impactful actions are usually the ones that occur at the smallest scale. Contributing to one’s community does not always have to mean grand gestures.

 

 

Be the first to be notified of Tapestry Suppers’ latest events and ticket sales by signing up for their newsletter at their website, and follow them on Instagram at @tapestrysuppers. You can also find out more about getting involved with the organisation, either as an event host or an event volunteer.

 

Kor Zhi Qiang (Queensland, Australia)
President (2016/2017 Executive Committee), QUTSSA


KorZhiQiang

Tell us more about the SG52 celebrations in Brisbane, and your respective roles in that event, and Singapore Day in Melbourne.

Last year’s SG52 celebrations in Brisbane was jointly organised between the Queensland University of Technology Singapore Students’ Association (QUTSSA) and the University of Queensland Singapore Students’ Society (UQSSS). With QUTSSA in charge, we decided to hold it in the main area of the city - King George Square - to make it the most accessible for all students and other Singaporeans to attend. We also raised around AUD$1,200 for SG Cares at the event.

 

As the President of QUTSSA, I felt quite a bit of pressure for it to go well, especially after the success of SG50 celebrations two years prior. A big part of role required me to work closely with UQSSS, overseeing the tasks delegated to my other members in the committee, as well as liaising with our sponsors and vendors. I personally took care of securing our location, as well as funding for the event whilst my peers handled the program rundown for the day. With about 700 Singaporeans present that day, being able to hear Singlish all around me and having some of my favourite local dishes, I felt like I was back home with my friends enjoying the parade! It was a joy for me to play a big part in an event, which brought the Singaporean community together to enjoy themselves.

 

At last year’s Singapore Day in Melbourne, I was there both as an event volunteer, and as a representative of QUTSSA and Singaporeans in Brisbane, when we presented a cheque of the funds raised for charity to Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean. I chose to attend Singapore Day last year because the opportunity to meet fellow Singaporeans, and enjoy all the amazing delicacies from home sounded too good to be missed!

As a surveyor for the event, I was tasked to ask event attendees about how they’d heard about Singapore Day, what they missed about home, and what they'd like to see at future events. It was great being able to interact with other Singaporeans from all over Australia, hearing more about their lives here and how different it is to their life back home, and how excited they were as they looked forward to attending Singapore Day and enjoy all things Singaporean. Some of the working adults here even gave me tips on where to find the best makan places around, and how to cook local dishes!


QUTSSA
Zhi Qiang with fellow QUTSSA and UQSSS members at their SG52 event

 

How do you feel about being able to contribute to the community, despite being away from Singapore?

I’m proud to be a member of the QUTSSA. I always joke about this being my second NS, as I served for two years in the committee as well. It's always a pleasant feeling to be able to help new and existing Singaporean students here in Brisbane. 

 

Being alone overseas in an unfamiliar environment can be hard at times, especially when you're feeling down – you can't just spontaneously text your friends for a midnight kopitiam meet-up! So this is where the student clubs come in: to provide a familiar space for Singaporeans to build bonds with fellow Singaporeans in similar situations.

 

When I heard about the opportunity to incorporate SG Cares into our events, I jumped on board immediately. It got me really excited to band Singaporeans here in Brisbane together for a charitable cause, and it ignited the ‘kampong’ spirit in me. Being able to make a difference to our fellow Singaporeans back home was a very heartwarming and humbling experience. 

I find what we do here at QUTSSA very meaningful and inspirational, not only in contributing at a societal level through the events we plan, but also at a personal level – the friendships forged within the society.  

What advice do you have for other overseas Singaporeans who wish to contribute to their community?

 

There are different ways that one can contribute to the overseas Singaporean community. Honestly, the simplest way is to just be a good friend to your fellow Singaporeans abroad. It's something everyone can do.

 

Of course, if you feel like contributing more, you could join a Singaporean society where you are. There are both student clubs and Singaporean social clubs, and you can participate in their annual events, or even be a part of their committee.

 

Last but not least, is to simply be proud of Singapore. Tell your overseas friends about your home and share your personal stories that connect you back to the country. Take pride in being Singaporean and show it! People often forget that any Singaporean overseas – whether as a tourist or as a Permanent Resident of the country – is a representative of Singapore. And in that, we should all strive to present the best possible image of Singapore and Singaporeans to the rest of the world.

 

 

Connect with fellow Singaporeans in Queensland through these organisations:

 

QUTSSA: http://www.qutssa.org/

UQSSS: https://www.uqsss.com/

Stories

Read the stories of Singaporeans living overseas.