The spirit of volunteering in Singapore is inculcated from our childhood, when we are introduced to community service projects in school. In the workplace, corporate social responsibility programmes are organised so that businesses and organisations can give back to society in their own way. Many Singaporeans also take their own initiative and volunteer their time at various charities to share their skills or to just help where they can. But what about Singaporeans based around the globe?
Matching youthful enthusiasm with veteran experience
For Dr Tan Eng Han, living in China for the past 25 years has not stopped him from wanting to do his part to give back to the community and enhance the lives of those around him. It was this desire to go beyond himself that led him to found Overseas SG (OSG), a non-profit social enterprise that organises various events to bring together young Singaporeans and professionals with years of experience doing business in China.
“I founded OSG in May 2017 as I believe that our next generation of young Singaporeans need to be Global-Minded, China-Savvy and Enterprising,” explained Dr Tan. “Through our programmes, we hope to cultivate a community of China-focused, entrepreneurship-driven students and professionals, interacting and sharing for the benefit of everyone.”
Dr Tan believes in providing opportunities for young Singaporeans to have a global outlook
Through OSG, Dr Tan and his fellow volunteers have held several successful events including panel discussions, mentorship sessions and even a few business case competitions.
Surely more can be done to help
But Dr Tan recognised that there was more that OSG needed to accomplish. After two years of nurturing this vibrant community of young people and professionals from around the region and guiding them on a common mission, he believed that more could be done to engage and give back to the local community.
“The person may be in China, but the heart remains at home” is the mindset that drives Dr Tan’s volunteer efforts
“I constantly questioned myself – what can OSG do on a meaningful and sustainable basis?” he shared. “In 2018, we came across Shanghai Baby Homes, a non-profit that cares for underprivileged children, especially those who are abandoned and who have special and urgent medical needs. As treatment is often costly and urgently needed, they are constantly in need of funds.”
While OSG has organised several events before, this will be their first time putting together a fundraising activity for a local charitable organisation. Called Run4Love, the fundraising activity will be a partnership with Bridge+, which owns several flexi-working spaces in Singapore and China.
Running for a good cause
But Dr Tan is not just spearheading Run4Love, he is literally running for love. He plans to embark on a solo 200-kilometre run across Shanghai! Expected to last a total of 35 hours, the run will begin at one of Bridge+’s locations, the Ascendas Innovation Place along Jiujiang Road, on the morning of Friday, 9th August and ends at the 100AM Mall Shanghai on Saturday evening.
200 kilometres may seem daunting to the regular person, but Dr Tan is not fazed at all. The 50-year-old is a regular at long-distance events.
“I have done a few long-distance solo runs over the past few years, with the longest being 130 kilometres in Beijing last year. I believe these solo efforts have prepared me physically, emotionally and mentally for the 200 kilometres.”
Dr Tan running a 50km trail in China in 2013 – a relatively short distance compared to his later runs!
Dr Tan is aware of the risks involved and is sure that he has planned for every possible contingency.
“August is the hottest month in Shanghai and can get even hotter than Singapore. I am fortunate to have an awesome group of volunteers in my team who will be supporting me over the 35 hours.”
Volunteering is all about teamwork and Dr Tan is grateful for the hard work of his Run4Love team
A way to stay in contact with Singapore
When asked why he chose to organise Run4Love in August, even with soaring temperatures, Dr Tan had a ready answer.
“Run4Love is a Singaporean initiative. There’s no better day to kick off this event than on our very own Singapore National Day. At the start of the run, several other Singaporeans will be joining me for the first 10 kilometres. I hope this show of unity will be my small contribution to building a strong Singapore community here in China, and to encourage future generations to compete on a global level and fly our Singapore flag proudly. This is my key motivation every day.”
How you can help
If you have been inspired by Dr Tan’s words, there are several ways you can be part of Run 4 Love. You may:
Sponsor part of Dr Tan’s run by donating 200 RMB per kilometre.
Volunteer to run alongside Dr Tan for at least 10 kilometres by donating 200 RMB per kilometre.
Form teams to run part of the route as a relay.
For corporate sponsorships, please contact OSG directly.
Dr Tan Eng Han is an education management professional who has lived in China for the past 25 years. He now oversees the China operations of a multi-national corporation and is the executive committee member of the Shanghai chapter of the Singapore Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China (SingCham), leading the effort for Professional Training and Student Engagements.