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How You Can Help Disadvantaged Kids, Families & Elderly This Festive Season

This student volunteer’s experiences may just inspire you to give back. Read on to find out the ways you can help.

By Harold Yap      17 November 2022

While we jauntily sail into the festive season with outsized feasts, gifts and highly-anticipated vacations, there are others in our community who aren’t able to afford these luxuries. 

But you can help bring more joy to disadvantaged children, seniors and families through Let’s Gift For A Reason 2022.

Organised by SAFRA Toa Payoh in collaboration with SAFRA Community Services Club (SAFRACS) and SG Cares, the campaign, now in its seventh year, aims to surpass last year’s numbers to fulfil 500 wishes and 5,000 food packs – a nod to SAFRA’S 50th anniversary. The project is part of SAFRA Cares, a commemorative series of initiatives under to help uplift individuals in need.

Here’s how you can pay it forward:

Adopt A Wish to grant the wishes of less privileged children:

  1. Head to the SAFRA clubs from now till to 12 Dec 2022
  2. Select a wish or several from our wish board
  3. Register your selected wish with our friendly customer service officers at the customer service counters (open daily from 9am to 9pm)
  4. Proceed to purchase the gift, wrap it and pen down your well-wishes for our beneficiaries
  5. Return the gift, together with the card to the same SAFRA club by 12 Dec 2022
  6. Beneficiaries will receive their wishes on 17 Dec 2022

Adopt A Bag to help low-income families or seniors living in rental flats offset their living expenses. For every bag adopted, a bag of daily necessities will be donated to our beneficiaries.

  1. Visit www.safragfar.sg from now till 12 Dec 2022
  2. Select the number of bags you’d like to adopt. Each bag costs $20
  3. Check out and make your payment

Go to safra.sg/whats-on/let’s-gift-for-a-reason-2022 for more information on Let’s Gift For A Reason.

If something is stirring in your heart for the disadvantaged, you can even consider giving the gift of your time by volunteering.

Farzanah Thasneem Sehuali, a 21-year-old youth volunteer leader, shares with us her experiences interacting with diverse groups of beneficiaries at various initiatives, and what motivates her to continue her volunteer work.

Farzanah (centre, in brown hijab) with migrant workers and other volunteers.

Q: Tell us about your journey as a volunteer. 

Farzanah: Like most Singaporean students, the value of giving back to the community was inculcated in me from the start. In primary school, I spent time with underprivileged students that I would describe as more of an enjoyable outing than volunteer work. However, it exposed me to the fact that there are people in the community whom I can help simply by interacting with and understanding their needs. Similar one-off experiences in the secondary and tertiary institutions I attended revolved around elderly care.

Recently, I was part of a student-led project at National University of Singapore (NUS), where I’m an undergraduate. Project DAMAI (Delivering Assistance and Medical Aid Internationally) promotes mental well-being among our migrant brothers in Singapore. Working with charity ItsRainingRaincoats, we raised awareness of issues such as depression and isolation – brought to light by the pandemic – and conducted activities such as a terrarium building workshop for the migrant workers.

Farzanah (centre, in red hijab) at a community event.

Q: What’s one event you volunteered at that impacted you?

Farzanah: As a volunteer leader with the Indian Muslim Social Service Association’s (IMSSA) Racial Harmony team, I had the opportunity to help out at a Deepavali celebration held for elderly residents of the Sree Narayana Mission Home, which was facilitated by SG Cares VC @ Yishun. I was enthusiastic about making the elderly beneficiaries happy and allowing them to enjoy themselves by spreading a celebratory spirit. Thankfully, we were able to achieve that through the event, even though it was held virtually. 

Q: How did you contribute to the event?

Farzanah: I helped to plan the programme. We organised quizzes and other activities anchored in traditional Indian concepts, which I hosted. It was truly an enjoyable time with the beneficiaries, who participated enthusiastically. We were able to communicate well with them with the help of translators, and I was very happy to see their smiling faces. 

Q: How did the experience impact you?

Farzanah: It was heartening to see the beneficiaries put in lots of effort into their beautiful and detailed henna designs. During the quiz, where participants were asked to guess the names of traditional Indian clothing, food and musical instruments, it was nice to see the Indian aunties explaining the items to their Chinese counterparts. The Indian participants gamely shared the significance and history of Deepavali with those of other races. 

The most important thing I took away was that communication is possible virtually, as long as we take time to address each other individually. I made it a point to address each participant by name and kept them engaged by noting their expressions throughout.

Q: What are the biggest challenges faced by these individuals that most do not know about?

Farzanah delivering food and necessities to a beneficiary.

Farzanah: Social isolation and loneliness. While physical isolation might not be so prevalent in a group home, I would imagine that loneliness is a very real issue for them, especially those who have lost their spouses and have little to no family support. My team and I frequently distribute food among the elderly at a HDB block in Yishun, where it isn’t uncommon to see them living alone. With age, they may have mobility challenges and as a result, not bother to socialise. Having social engagement is crucial in providing them with a sense of belonging and identity, while preventing depression. The latter is a common mental health issue among older adults.

Q: How do you derive satisfaction from volunteering?

Farzanah: It’s great knowing that what I am doing makes them happy and hopefully encourages them to pass the joy onto others as well. It also helps being part of a group that similarly believes in helping others without expecting anything in return. Their company makes me happy and motivates me to continue volunteering. Doing anything alone is not sustainable.

Q: What does charity mean to you? How does it make a difference in the lives of beneficiaries?

Farzanah: Charity means to increase joy and purpose in my life and that of the people we reach out to. While we can’t expect to form unbreakable bonds during a one-off event, it can still make a lasting impression on the beneficiaries while laying the foundation for us to do more for them in future. I hope that our event was as enjoyable for them as it was for me. Their morning started off on a good note and their routine at the home was broken by something new and engaging, 

Q: What do you wish for disadvantaged seniors like the ones you interacted with?

Farzanah: I want seniors to be able to live with dignity and social plus spiritual harmony even in spaces such as old folks’ homes. With reduced independence, it is easy to somewhat lose a sense of dignity as they become more reliant on others. Hence, I think it’s a good idea for them to be given challenges where possible to allow themselves to feel self-sufficient. And I hope they can be part of a community that can make them feel at home away from home.

You can help someone else in need when you donate through SAFRA Cares via Giving.sg (tax deductible).

An initiative to commemorate SAFRA’s 50th anniversary, SAFRA Cares is raising funds for low income and needy families and children under the President’s Challenge, as well as servicemen disabled due to service under the SAF Care Fund. You can also donate using your NS55 credits or with your bank app (via PayNow).

Just launch your LifeSG app or bank app, and scan the QR Code below. Key in your desired amount to donate!

For more info, please visit www.safra.sg/SAFRAcares.

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