What inspires you to run the different projects at Kampung Kakis?
When we hear from our volunteers on the ground on the needs of their kakis, this allows us to better understand what gaps we can fill as a group. I am inspired by the work that existing ground-ups, charities and social organisations that we partner with already do, and this allows us to bridge the gap in needs of our kakis by tapping on readily available resources.
I am also constantly wowed by our volunteers, by how enthusiastic and generous they are with their time and effort they put in to contribute to the new projects that we embark on at KampungKakis (e.g. Project There is Love – donation of secondhand clothes; solving the need for medical escorts; Digital Kakis etc.).
You have done a lot since you started at Kampong Kakis. Share a lesson that stands out most for you?
You don’t need to have an abundance to give. I’ve seen so many of our volunteers who themselves do not own a lot but are equally or even more generous than many others who are affluent. This generosity does not have to be in monetary form but can be as simple as lending a listening ear to someone who needs a friend to chat with.
What are some of the more prevalent challenges faced by the vulnerable groups in our communities?
For the vulnerable seniors in our community (which are the majority of KampungKakis’ beneficiaries), it was a very glaring challenge during the beginning of lockdowns that they were not digitally equipped to deal with the fast changing rules and new online tools that emerged. We also came to observe that many of these seniors who live alone did not have someone to check in on them regularly and accompany them on medical visits.
Low-income families also often fell through the cracks with financial support offered by the government which usually comes along with a long list of strict requirements. Many children from these families also did not have the tools nor a conducive environment to undergo Home-Based Learning in.
What would you say is your proudest moment (be it in kampung Kakis or at any point in your life) and why?
When we first started KampungKakis, none of us three (Mae, Michelle and I) had imagined that we would’ve grown the initiative to what it is now.
I was especially proud when we managed to grow our volunteer base from 0 to over 400 in just a span of 3 months when we first launched. This allowed us to tap on our fast growing base of volunteers to reach out and partner with many charities, social service and voluntary welfare organizations and ground-ups which we have built strong relationships with over the last year and a half.
In your many experiences helping the community, share a moment or experience that has touched you.
In my personal experience, working with one of our Kampung Chiefs from MacPherson has shown me what true kampung spirit and the meaning of sharing is.
He started an initiative “Kampung Circuit” in the MacPherson area before joining us as a volunteer, and has since started various initiatives such as a ‘Care and Share Corner’ and monthly pop-up grocery stands where he rallies volunteers in the neighbourhood to donate and organize these activities.
Since the P2HA restrictions started and such mass pop-up activities were discouraged, he did not stop giving. He pivoted these monthly activities into a Care Table which he set up outside his home and continuously replenishes the stocks of essentials so that neighbours can drop by to take as they need.
I am heartened by how much the community in Kampung Circuit has grown, and witnessed his passion and genuine kind-heartedness to help others without expecting anything in return.
Why do you think it’s important to help those who fall through the cracks?
I believe that all of us have a role in our community and in society, to support and help each other through difficulties. There is only so much that our government and formal support networks can provide to those in need, typically with a list of strict requirements to qualify for the assistance.
This leaves a wide gap that the society needs to fill. As Singapore continues to advance at such a fast pace, no one should be left behind in our journey of growth.
With your experience fostering bonds in communities, what advice would you give to someone who intends to bridge gaps in their own communities?
Don’t be afraid to take the first step. You never know how much support you can garner from like-minded people in your community!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are many others who have been through what you are going through – with a common goal, we are all here to lend a hand and provide support in your journey!
Lastly, always be genuine and stay true to your core values.
How do you stay motivated to care for the community like you do?
It doesn’t take much to stay motivated with such a passionate and supportive team of volunteers who have joined us behind the scenes! We all work with a common purpose and this makes the work we do so much more enjoyable. Despite having full time work/ study obligations outside of KampungKakis, they spend their spare time volunteering with us – we are so thankful to have them with us!
Additionally, our kakis, volunteers and partners often write in to show their appreciation for the work that we do – I am always very heartened to receive their messages which motivates me to keep going and strive to grow our initiative so that we can help more people in need. Many of our volunteers also go above and beyond to help their Kakis and they inspire me everyday.
These act as reminders to me that every bit of work we do makes an impact, no matter how small it might seem.
What does thriving mean to you?
Thriving, to me, means being able to stay positive and see the light even in times of hardship.
Many of our kakis are faced with a multitude of challenges but are not only able to stay cheerful but also extend care and help to their neighbours.