Singapore’s Unsung Heroes
Singaporeans have never been known for their graciousness, with claims of locals being bochup and self-centred. But how can these sweeping statements be true when our fellow citizens are saving lives across borders and going all out to rescue and protect innocent animals? From community initiatives to everyday acts of kindness, here's a list of incidents that will make you rethink Singapore's identity as an emotionless society.
1. When Mdm Lim started a variety of initiatives for her fellow neighbors
A volunteer, Mdm Zhang, who provides free haircuts for residents. Source
Mdm Annie Lim has been actively contributing to her community for more than a decade now. From tuition sessions for the underprivileged to exercise groups which promote active aging, she’s always coming up with new ideas to help her fellow neighbours in need.
With steadfast dedication and infectious energy, she has managed to rope in hawkers and even a doctor who have been sponsoring packed meals and free consultations at a community clinic each month.
2. When this 60 year-old man spends his lunchtime delivering food
Even past 60 years of age, Tan Choon Kiang possesses boundless energy and an unwavering dedication to help others. Skipping his lunch, he hops on his bike during meal time each day to deliver food to the disabled and elderly around the Chai Chee estate.
Believing that his little sacrifice can go a long way in providing for the less fortunate, he relentlessly contributes his time and energy - be it rain or shine. Power lah, Mr Tan! We can all think twice the next time we carelessly claim that we’re too tired to offer help to someone else.
3. When this lady boss stood up for her staff in face of customer complaints
Ms Guan with Mr Wee who suffers from neurofibromatosis - a non-contagious condition which causes tumors to grow on his skin. Source
“Customers are always right.” Clearly, Ms Sharon Guan Xue-er, the boss of Whampoa Keng Fish Head Steamboat, didn’t agree. When an unreasonable patron demanded that Mr Jimmy Wee be dismissed due to his skin condition, she stood by her employee. But her kindness wasn’t just exhibited in that isolated incident.
Ms Guan has also hired a lady in her 80s who was unemployed for two decades, and an obese chef who had been rejected by 9 other employers prior. Advocating the idea that the unfortunate and the needy shouldn’t be cast aside or feared, she channels her efforts into helping them integrate into society instead.
4. When this resident made a football match on TV accessible to migrant workers
People usually don’t spare migrant workers a second glance, choosing to stay a good distance away from them. But Rooban Kanth threw this negative social stigma out of the window during the FIFA season in 2014. Deciding to screen the football matches right outside his home, he then invited migrant workers over to share his love for the sport.
5. When this hawker took it upon herself to feed the needy in her neighborhood
Mdm Wong owns and runs Cambridge Rd. Hong Kong Roast Pork, a stall tucked away in Pek Kio Market and Food Centre. She’s the epitome of kindness, deriving happiness by helping the people around her. Even though she’s not making big bucks as a hawker, she still extends her help to the best of her capability, giving out food coupons to the needy for them to redeem warm and comforting meals at her stall.
6. When these NSFs responded to a call of duty out of camp
These 3 NSFs felt a call of duty to help when they spotted a wheelchair-bound lady struggling to board the bus in a heavy downpour. She was part of a group from Dignity Kitchen who had just finished attending a lunch function in 2012. They patiently escorted the elderly without being asked to, earning the admiration and commendation of the community. Salute!
7. When this primary 6 student demonstrated bravery beyond his age
This little hero has showed that you’re never too young to lend a helping hand. Source
Age is nothing when it comes to helping others. Witnessing a car accident last year, 12-year-old Ashvin Gunasegaran threw all caution to the wind and stepped up to check on the victims without hesitation. His bravery earned him the Public Spiritedness Award, presented by SCDF in June last year. His actions were a stark contrast to the kaypoh-but-kiasi adults who whipped out their phones to document the incident from afar.
8. When the migrant workers who built our country go to celebrate CNY too
Nobody wants to spend Chinese New Year alone - imagine no festivities, no games and no fun. The folks at Singapore Kindness Movement must have thought the same - this sparked them to spread the cheer by running a 3-day food truck activation to bring free bento sets and mandarin oranges to Singapore’s migrant workers.
9. When families shared the festive spirit to complete strangers during CNY
Get acquainted with strangers and share the festive spirit! Source
Good deeds don’t involve an elaborate plan all the time. Sometimes, all it takes is a spare chair and open arms. On the same CNY note, the Singapore Kindness Movement also ran another initiative, Just An Extra Chair to encourage Singaporeans to open their homes to others who didn’t have family to celebrate the occasion with.
The response to that was so astounding, a subsequent follow-up event was launched during Hari Raya Aidilfitri as well. Who says Singaporeans are unfeeling?
10. When a kind resident helped his/her neighbors fight Zika on elevator rides
While most of the world cooped themselves up at home, praying not to kena the deadly Zika virus which plagued us in 2016, an anonymous resident hero decided to revive kampung spirit by protecting his neighbours by placing a free-for-all bottle of mosquito repellent in the lift of his block.
It’s time to dispel the myth that you can only contribute to society if you’ve got the money or time to commit to a cause. Draw inspiration from these Samaritans and do good whenever you can. With so many fellow Singaporeans working to eradicate the negative stigma around the kind of people we are, it’s time we join forces with them to make our small acts of kindness go a long way.
And they don’t always involve tedious efforts and sacrifices. They could simply start with being more attentive to the needs of those around us a lending a helping hand where possible. Alternatively, if you have a passion for a certain cause, go ahead and volunteer at a beneficiary. If you’ve got enough resources of your own, why not create a ground-up movement and make it gain enough traction to enact a positive change in the community?
Most of us are quite fortunate and there are plenty of opportunities for us to pay it forward. Starting from today, if you see a good deed, or are the giver of one yourself, take either a snap or a video about it or even write about the experience on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter with the hashtag #DaretoCare and #SGcares, and tag three friends to pass it on!
Let’s debunk the sweeping generalisation that Singapore is emotionless, once and for all.
This post was brought to you by MCCY.