Monday, August 10, 2009

Count on us Singapore!

Whenever someone impolitely quizzes me on the excessively long delay between each blog entry, I would rely on one of the following evasive techniques to wriggle my way out of such a predicament:

1) If we were to discuss this unpleasant topic over coffee, I would seize an opportunity to take a deliberately long sip of the cup of Java and mumble something inaudible at the same time into the drink (I do not bother to repeat myself after that).
2) If I know that person really well, a cold frosty stare usually kept further probing at bay.
3) If by some chance that I happened to be in a good mood, I would smile politely (but not genuinely) and reply, “It will be soon.”

But the real reason behind the delays could actually be summed up by an abstract equation, which explains my motivation to write an entry for this blog. Running the risk of coming across as an insufferable geek, my willingness to blog can be described as a function of my mood, the weather and of course, the occurrence of an amusing event at ASH. Hence, it is apparent that the stars must have aligned, as all the variables in the above equation satisfied the necessary conditions to yield this entry. In fact, I have decided to squeeze 2 entries into 1 to produce a lengthy account of what had transpired at ASH during the past 2 services.

Exactly 2 services ago, I was absolutely amazed to realize that All Saints Home Volunteering has become increasingly cosmopolitan. This phenomenon did not occur overnight of course. It had only dawned on me when I did a quick mental arithmetic to discover that non-Singaporean volunteers comprised of nearly 70 % of the total number of volunteers! Indeed, the ranks of volunteers at ASH now swell with the Malaysians, the Vietnamese, the Indian, the Chinese, the Indonesians, the Filipinos, and even an American at one point (he is none other than Benny’s son-in-law).

As Singapore poises herself to celebrate her 44th birthday, I could not help but feel proud over this achievement. Most of the residents at ASH have been through the tumultuous times in the early years of Singapore’s independence, and they had forged on courageously to mould Singapore into the stable and prosperous country that she is today. With a stable political climate, a robust economy and a strong emphasis on providing equal opportunities for all her residents, Singapore has continually attracted migrants from nearly every corner of the globe.

By offering their services as volunteers to the nursing homes in Singapore, these foreign volunteers have shown that volunteering work is absent of borders or international boundaries. As a result, the residents at ASH have benefited tremendously from this wonderful ideal. In fact, the foreign volunteers at ASH have become indispensable to both the volunteering corp and the home.

Volunteering at ASH would be very different without Chloe’s bright and cheerful disposition, Eric’s mischievous attempts with languages, Ah Xing and Sook Ying’s tireless efforts in organizing programmes and activities for the residents, and the Vietnamese quintet’s relentless energy from the flower of their youth. In addition, we found a novice baker in Emily, who had baked a cake for the residents’ tea session. Perhaps the word 'novice' should be omitted from my description, as the residents were full of praises for her baking skills. They had in fact specifically asked for second helpings of the cake baked by Emily, even though there were Pandan and butter cakes (bought by Ah Xing) to choose from. Again, the opportunity to savour home-baked cakes was lost to me, as I had yet to recover from the sore throat and irritating fits of dry cough that have been plaguing me since the BBQ. Thus, I will never be able to know the success behind those home-baked cakes from all the tea sessions, and probably should also resign myself to the fact that my fate with home-baked cakes is pitiful at best.

In conjunction with Singapore's National Day Celebration, Kee Teck had brilliantly decided to involve the residents with the decoration of ASH using red and white balloons during last Saturday's service. Understanding the significance of Singapore's 44 years of independence better than anyone else, the residents embarked on the decoration with quiet devotion, as they were aided by the volunteers to draw and color the balloons with crescent and stars to resemble the flag of Singapore. This sight has without a shadow of doubt lent a new meaning to the words, "One united Singapore".

Last Saturday's service also marked the end of the Community Involvement Programme (CIP) for the 4 Chinese students from the Singapore Polytechnic. However, they have expressed the interest in continuing to volunteer their services at ASH despite the completion of the CIP. At the end of the service, I couldn't help but feel that this National Day Celebration is more meaningful than the previous years. An unexplainable surge of patriotic sentiments almost made me screamed at the top of my voice, "Majulah Singapura!", but I had wisely decided that a simple "Happy Birthday Singapore!" will do.