Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Willing Hearts Reflections

Before I start on my reflection, I believe its nice to give a disclaimer since my views have mostly been "unconventional" in nature, due to my childhood.

Firstly, we were brought to CIDECO Industrial complex. #04-06 where Willing Hearts food pantry is situated at. I'm not going to mention about any form of "heart-warming scenes" for I felt none. To me, its seems like another nightmare of under-resourced / under-manpower-ed organisation trying to do its best (such as MINDS). Volunteers seen that day were plentiful indeed. However the key personnel that drives the operations are mostly middle-aged volunteers. (Like the one we managed to interviewed) The rest could be come-and-go volunteers with vested interest. Students MAY be CIP hours, where adults MAY be to make them feel better by giving back to society. Its an issue of personal resource allocation ( will touch on it in the conclusion )

Any operations have to be funded. To me, one large concern was the rent of the unit. Since Willing Hearts received donations to finance their operations, it should be ideal that the resources should be mostly channeled to food production, packaging and distribution. However upon asking the volunteer, he said "Yeah, we have to pay rent." If the money spent on rent could be used to purchase food-related resources, better quality/quantity food could be given to those suffering from food-insecurity.

The entire process of distribution, highlights another issue about hunger being " hidden". Its a quick process, lasting approximately 30 minutes at a pre-agreed location. It happens so quickly, and leaves almost no traces behind, makes this issue so much hidden. Lunch time, a time where kids are in school and working adults away from home, hardly anyone would notice it.

After that we were given a tour on rental flats. Contradictory thoughts came to my mind, bombarded literally.
People are feeding stray cats ( makes it seem like they rather buy food for stray animals then needy people.) People with maids are competing for food with people who waited so long that he defecated in his pants.
A couple (staying in rental flats) with a baby carried by the maid while they smoke at the lift lobby, depriving homeless people who really needs a home. Resources poured into CCTV around the areas and preventing people from living at the ground floor of HDBs, but resources could not be channeled to improve the poor grooves on the staircase steps, and forces an homeless individual to live on the 2nd level mezzanine area of the HDB flat. (only some of us noticed it that day)

I dare say most of us take the fact that we have food on the table for granted, and its also our selfish nature which we manage to deceive ourselves so well that allows these problems to go unnoticed. Frankly speaking (to make it a real reflection, intra-personal communication) ask yourself this question: "What is stopping you from helping and volunteering at Willing Hearts or reach out to the less fortunate, since now you are aware of the problem and its presence?" IF the answer falls along the category of "I cannot give up my current status and lifestyle/routine to help them" then maybe its beneficial for oneself, to continue living in a "bubble" that all is well.

Finally, I took some time off to think about a practical approach for the problem. Using the approach to "raise awareness" (one-off event)  helps if a few individuals are really deeply touched by the nature of the problem, and willing to SACRIFICE PERSONAL RESOURCES to help a particular group of needy.
Otherwise, frequent campaigns are needed. Maybe in terms of making the problem more visible, sign post could be erected around the neighborhood and a shelter dedicated to food distribution. A platform must be set up so the needy knows which department to reach out for assistance. Therefore in short, the service for food distribution or even carpooling (free rides to the nearest MRT or clinic) should have a "station" like a bus stop so it becomes a permanent icon that there are people living in the society that really needs our help.

But the best solution I could come up to date was one that mirrors "Batman". Forgotten which ending of batman had this, but Bruce Wayne died, and left his huge mansion to be used as an orphanage for the orphans and the mansion is not to be demolished. A solution that promised sustainability by channeling resources to manpower and actions to support a cause (and no resources spent to make someone else richer by rent). Either lobby against the government for old industrial buildings by JTC instead of selling the buildings to REITS like MapleTree or one can always "liquidate" their homes/HDB/wealth to serve a cause.
Who knows maybe the government may name a street after you. (example of Joo Chiat)

A counter argument which I came across would be that people feel embarrassed about receiving help. Maybe "PRIDE" at times is really a foolish thing after all. If labeling them, poses a social stigma but could fill their bellies and keep them alive, then it seems to be a form of trade off after all.

( I think a REAL reflection is what is really needed and not the simple "I feel sorry for them" should be repeated. I know I exceeded 500 words, but how can a real reflection be less then that if I really have so much stuff to say? Maybe I'm nuts to sacrifice academics to speak up what is really on my mind. {as I had mentioned, pride is foolish} but if someone among us could/might be changed to help these less fortunate then its worth it. By the way, if you are thinking why I wrote this, lets say I scored 7 for "Dare" on "Talent Today" )

Seng Chin Teck


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