Friday, April 25, 2014

Willing Hearts Visit - Nigel

It started with a visit to the kitchens, where the food is prepared, was done after the loading of the packed food. Volunteers aplenty, scent of freshly cooked food in the air. Mainly from school nearby, but a surprising number of CJC students. Walking into the kitchen, there is separation of the raw food preparation section and the cooking section, which was to be expected. The cooking section begins with the rice station followed by the cooking area for the rest of the dishes; vegetables, meat and fish. The packing station is the first thing seen when entering the food preparation area.
Boarding the van after loading of the food and the visit to the kitchens, we headed to the first destination of food drop-off, Sims Drive, followed by 2 other drop-offs at Aljunied Crescent and Geylang Bahru. At the final stop a drop off 15 packets of food was made, getting down we started to distribute the food packets. Many of those that were receiving the food were elderly and the disabled; many of whom have trouble conversing in English with Mandarin and Chinese Dialects being the language of choice.
After that going up the blocks and realizing the steps that were taken to hide the presence of the rental flats; with cleaners consistently being seen at the lift lobbies cleaning up the mess, they can also be seen under blocks cleaning up. The corridors in the block are centralized and flanked by the apartments on either side, they are dark and narrow unlike normal blocks where they are well ventilated and sunlit. Walking down them and peeking into the rental flats, realizing that each flat is extremely cramped and small; some do not have enough space in them for a full family, but a family still lives in them. While proceeding down the stairs we find a bunk at the void deck where signs of recent and continued habitation can be seen; it is appalling that there are still people like that in Singapore.

            During the interview, I began to understand the problems that face the underprivileged in Singapore. The problems that irritate them more are not necessarily the lack of money or not having a place to stay, but to them finding something to do to pass time being the hardest. Another frustrating problem is the many procedures they have to go through to get aid from government organizations, also the constant repetition of their plight to different officers in the various departments gnaws at their pride. Some of them may not even ask for aid because of the trouble they have to go through, some also do not want to do it because of the pride that they have. It is extremely disturbing to know that the number that actually approach the government is only but a fraction of the total amount of people that need that aid.

Nigel Ong

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