As one expat has learned, one of the best ways to get to know your host country is by volunteering to do good!
Name: Christa Boncimino
Volunteers at: Food from the Heart
What’s the mission of Food from the Heart?
The organisation reaches out to the less-fortunate, alleviating hunger through a food distribution programme and bringing joy through the distribution of toys and birthday celebrations. Primarily, food is brought to families and the elderly in need across Singapore. The charity runs various programmes, including School Goodie Bag and Community Food Pack. Beneficiaries receive a pack of non-perishable food such as rice, noodles, canned vegetables, biscuits, condensed milk and cooking oil, as well as fresh fruit, eggs and bread. These all help offset their monthly grocery expenses. There are about 800 student families and 400 beneficiaries each month.
What do you do there?
Members of the American Women’s Association (AWA) pack up food bundles to be delivered to families in need. Since this is a monthly activity for us, many of the women have come before and know the drill. For the few newbies every month, the learning curve is brief and we are fast and efficient. We pack 150 bags in the course of two to three hours. Usually, our packs go to the School Goodie Bag programme, but occasionally we are able to pack and hand deliver to elderly citizens.
Food from the Heart also recently started a pop-up event. They offered a tasty meal at a community centre where beneficiaries were allowed to choose their own fruit, vegetables and meat. It was a fun event for all. Some lovely ladies also organised several carnival games with prizes and a photo booth. Most attending our event were elderly, but later in the day, school children were given awards for attendance, the main requirement for student recipients.
Why did you choose Food from the Heart to donate your time to?
AWA offers several opportunities for volunteering, but this is one I’ve really enjoyed. It’s good fun chatting with other AWA members at the events while knowing it’s time well spent. The newest pop-up events have allowed us to feel like a bigger part of the Singaporean community at large. This is also a great organisation to set up volunteer times with kids.
What do you get out of volunteering?
I like volunteering here as I get to see more of Singapore. This is a beautiful and wealthy country, but there will always be people that need a hand. As expats, we don’t often see this side of life or need. Whether I choose to serve by packing food or helping with student reading programmes, I feel like I learn more about Singapore and that I’m being a good guest in our host country.
AWA offers a wide variety of volunteering opportunities, open to women of all nationalities. To find out how to get involved, check out awasingapore.org.
For more helpful tips, head to our Living in Singapore section.
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This article first appeared in the August 2019 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!