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For the joy of altruism

YKW_3075yFRIENDSHIPS FORGED: During their stay, Joel (left) and his team befriended the local children, making it harder for them to leave on the last day of the trip.

Final-year Accounting student Mohamed Syahid, 24, visited Cambodia for his first community service project in 2007. He found the joy of helping others so appealing that he initiated project BA GOAL (Grace On Another’s Life), as “a platform for students who wish to do community service, but do not know where to begin”.

BA GOAL aims to serve the needs of underprivileged children from the Singapore Children’s Society through various programme.

His most recent overseas trip was to Kampong Air Learning Centre in Batam, Indonesia. With 28 other students, Syahid focused on improving school facilities and imparting life skills to the children. The project was organised by BA Community And
Reachout Endeavours (CARES), a community outreach arm of the School of Business and Accountancy that regularly sends teams of students to neighbouring countries on community service projects.

In the same spirit of volunteerism, NP and National Junior College (NJC) sent 13 students respectively on Mar 13 to a joint community service project for seven days to Dumaguete, Philippines, to aid children studying at Malaunay and Candauay Elementary Schools.

Organised by NP, the tie-up was open to students from NP’s Talent Development Programme (TDP) and NJC’s Sapphire Scholar Programme (SSP). NP students focused on teaching the children life skills like managing relationships and behaviour, while NJC students built a kitchen with basic cooking facilities for the school.

Second-year Film, Sound & Video student, Joel Tan, 17, led the joint initiative. He says, “We used simple games to teach them life skills. We pasted a piece of paper on the backs of the children and asked them to write nice things about each other on it. Although simple, this really boosted their self-esteem and encouraged them to praise each other more often.”

Joel recalls how on the last day of the trip, some volunteers felt reluctant to leave the children at Candauay Elementary School. Final-year Banking and Financial Services student Gerald Alexander Anand, 18, says, “When we had to leave, children ran after us to ask whether they could come along.”

He adds, “Although we were strangers who entered their lives for a short period, we really felt a connection with them.”

Just like Syahid, the same students from TDP are planning for another community service project to Malaunay Elementary School this coming September holiday.

As the majority of the school-going children there come from humble backgrounds, student leader Joel senses the urgency to do more to further equip the school with basic facilities and teaching materials so as to facilitate a conducive learning environment for the children.

Besides their bid for another community service trip back to the Philippines, the same group of students are proposing to kick-start NP’s very own community service month where students are encouraged to participate and serve different groups of the needy each week.

When asked why they chose to give up part of their holidays for community work, Joel and Syahid agreed that there would always be opportunities to party and relax in the future, but for now, they prefer to concentrate on reaching out to disadvantaged people.

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One comment for “For the joy of altruism”

  1. Helping others gives me this uplifting feeling that I can’t describe very well. I’m glad other people feel the same way too.

    Posted by Lab Diamond | October 16, 2009, 1:41 pm

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