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Donating/Volunteering like a local in Singapore

Since the initial outbreak of the Covid-19 illness which started almost 3 years ago, we have had to accommodate regulations that seemed to be ever-changing. For the majority of us, adapting to masks and a restricted social life under Covid-19 may be inconvenient but not impossible. However, for others, the Covid-19 outbreak had devastated not only their social lives, but their livelihoods and quality of life as well. This includes the vulnerable elderly, the disabled, and the immune-compromised. Some elderly groups are not able to be vaccinated due to certain diseases that they are already suffering from, or simply because they are not able to travel to vaccination centers alone to receive their vaccination shots, thus Singapore authorities encourage friends and family to accompany seniors to take their Covid-19 vaccine. This vaccine could help protect seniors when they are exposed to crowds in Singapore. Singapore regulations also urge seniors to stay at home if possible, as 95% of deaths from Covid-19 in Singapore are seniors, making it critical to protect them.

Those who face health problems are ineligible to take the vaccine and, as a result, are unable to return to the workforce. Others have simply been impacted by the economic downturn that arrived in the wake of the global lockdown. This group of young to middle-aged adults are part of the “sandwich generation”, who in general, have higher stress levels and poorer physical health compared to younger and older groups, who are burdened by the responsibility of caring for both their parents and children. One in two said they have experienced a decrease in their finances since the pandemic, and nearly half have indicated higher stress levels, while a third reported poor physical health compared to younger and older age groups.

Furthermore, the Silver Generation Office reaches out to vulnerable seniors who are physically frail and living alone. They have started visiting these seniors in their homes to convey the current Covid-19 precautionary measures, such as hygiene tips and social distancing. They also identify seniors who require additional assistance and link them up with the appropriate social service agencies and service providers to ensure that their needs are met.

Many of these members of society have turned to charities and Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) for help, which largely depends on donations and contributions of the locals to continue functioning. However, many locals have also taken this opportunity to contribute back to society by involving themselves in volunteering sessions organised by some non-profit organisations. Priscilla, who recently volunteered with Red Cross, shared “It was an exciting experience. I went to one place where all the volunteers meet and collect the Elderly Care Packages and listed which house we should deliver the package to. It was a great experience and I am happy to help others in need”.

Both internationally and locally, many charity organisations and NPOs have actively carried out charity and volunteer sessions to aid the demographics that have been badly affected by Covid-19. Aside from financial and monetary contributions, volunteering also brings a touch of warmth and human interaction to both the volunteers and the recipients of aid. In Singapore, there are many avenues for charity work. There are three forms of NPOs, also known as charities or voluntary welfare organizations; Public Company Limited by Guarantee (PCLG), Society, and Charitable Trust.

Why donate, or why volunteer? It may seem like a tedious task to some, but charity work creates a very real impact on the world, and can also improve the personal lives of those who give.

  1. Help people in need

While there is no perfect time to give, there is always a time to start. Singapore has one of the highest income gaps in the world, and is one of the most expensive cities to live in. Those at the bottom rung of the economy may not be able to afford many basic necessities at their income level. In 2015, the non-profit organisation, Singaporeans Against Poverty launched a campaign called the $5 challenge, based on the statistic that shows 387,000 Singaporeans only have about $5 a day to spend on food and transport per family member. With or without a pandemic, your donation will always go to someone who needs it.

  1. Increase your knowledge of the world

You don’t have to volunteer every day or donate large sums of money to make a difference in someone’s life. In many developing countries, a donation of a few dollars could fund a week’s worth of food, and donations of educational resources, food, and clothing can drastically change their daily realities. Volunteering overseas not only widens your perspective, it may even improve your outlook on life. Volunteering locally could similarly expose you to the communities that you had previously never interacted with, and teach you more about the place that you call home.

  1. Boost your mood while doing a good deed

Based on research from the National Institutes of Health, donating activates one of the pleasure centers in the human brain. Based on a study, participants who chose to make donations felt significant improvements in their mood. Knowing that your volunteer work or donation makes a difference and can help another person could improve your mental health, as well.

  1. Improve your personal life

While it may not seem likely, making donations and volunteering regularly can help some people to better organise their lives. A monthly donation to a non-profit organisation would encourage the donor to be more attentive to his/her finances, and someone who volunteers regularly would have to manage his/her time more efficiently.

  1. Expand your horizons

Volunteer work can bring people from many different walks of life together and create new friendships and connections. You may interact with people who hold a different perspective on life, have a stimulating conversation, or even learn lessons from their experiences. It is the unexpected takeaways that make volunteering so fulfilling.

While there are many benefits to volunteering and we strongly encourage the spirit of volunteerism, we also understand that some of us may have extremely busy schedules and are unable to accommodate an extra commitment. There are many other avenues for charity work, such as donations and corporate community service. You can improve the lives of those in need, at the same time bringing yourself more personal fulfillment. It’s never too early or too late to start doing charity work – let’s start today!

- Written by: Patricia Shareleen and Asahi Yip, Cayman Management Consultants


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