Are you good with your hands and looking for a way to give back by volunteering in Singapore? Here’s an inside look at Habitat for Humanity – it may be right for you.
Name: Pinaki Ranjan Ray
Volunteers at: Habitat for Humanity Singapore
Tell us about your volunteering roles.
I volunteer with several organisations as I have a passion to contribute. For this column, I’ve chosen to focus on Habitat for Humanity, where I spend a substantial amount of time.
What’s the mission of the organisation?
For everyone in the world to have a decent place to live.
What do you do there?
Since 2014, I’ve worked on several Habitat projects, which have given me the opportunity to learn about grassroots communities in Singapore and Batam.
Habitat for Humanity works with vulnerable persons and families who need help to rehabilitate their homes to make them safe and sanitary. As a volunteer, I’ve worked with others to make homes safer by decluttering items that pose a fire risk or could cause accidents such as a fall. We’ve also discarded expired food items and cleared pest-infested furniture to improve the health and wellbeing of our vulnerable elderly and families.
My seven-year-old daughter and I joined Habitat’s first large-scale, family friendly community clean-up, teaching sustainable living. We shared tips on sorting and recycling trash, switching to reusables, and introducing plastic-free household products. LitteRally is a great way to have an impact on the community, while taking a pleasant walk through a nice neighbourhood or park. It was fulfilling to walk through the MRT and HDB areas and hear positive feedback and encouragement from local residents who were watching the volunteers. Hopefully, the clean-up effort is contagious!
UnLitter Red Dot
This programme was designed to nurture a more civic-minded culture and society through community cleanup programmes in neighbourhoods across Singapore. While this is known as one of the cleanest countries around the globe, our community spaces such as void decks, playgrounds and carparks still seem to be littered with tissue paper, cigarette stubs and plastic bottles.
This programme is helping rejuvenate the community in Kabil Village, Batam. Forty percent of the village’s residents live in substandard housing, built using scrap wood and tin sheets. These small shacks are susceptible to water leaks, floods and sometimes structural collapse during the monsoon season. Habitat aims to improve the standard of living for a thousand families through the reconstruction of new homes, improving the current water, drainage and electricity system. I’m blessed to be part of this great project; it helps me to connect with amazing people, test my endurance and maintain positivity in my life.
What do you get out of volunteering for Habitat?
I’ve always practiced following a philosophy of kindness and love. Being able to benefit all beings gives me an immense sense of being alive and expanding my heart to others. It helps me practice compassion by staying grounded with whatever I have in life. I feel very fulfilled being part of the projects and meeting wonderful people from various backgrounds. I’m indeed fortunate and blessed.
How can readers get involved?
You can volunteer for various programmes such as the home rehabilitation programme or a community clean-up. Habitat Singapore also works with community partners such as Senior Activity Centres (SACs), cluster support, Family Service Centres (FSCs), hospitals and social workers. If you know anyone who needs help, you may refer them to either of these partners.
Find out more at habitat.org.sg/volunteer
This article first appeared in the March 2020 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!