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Kicking out bullying

By Yeong Kar Yan & Melissa Tan

Student volunteers tackle bullying problems at orphanage by instilling values of friendship and sportsmanship at football tournament

The kids at the orphanage giving their all during the  SOULE football tournament.

The kids at the orphanage giving their all during the SOULE football tournament.

People walking by the Rumah Barkat orphanage on May 2 may be surprised as the usually empty football field is, for once, filled with children playing the game.

As the only orphanage in Johor Bahru, it is filled to the brim with 116 underprivileged children aged between 7 to 17 years old.

“All the children here are fatherless. Most of them still have some relatives alive. But because they can’t or won’t support the children anymore, they’ve been abandoned here,” says Carylyne Chan, 18, Marketing Director of the NP Student Entrepreneurship Club (SEC).

However, spirits were high, if the children’s smiles and cheers were anything to go by, with an on-site banner revealing that they were playing at the SOULE Football Tournament 2010.

The event organised to tackle the problem of bullying was initiated by Justine Lee, 19, President of the SEC, as well as one of the three youths running SOULE, an online social enterprise.

“We are not saying outright that it’s an anti-bullying campaign, but we hope to subtly instil values like friendship and sportsmanship in these children,” Justine says. He cites Liverpool’s motto, “You Will Never Walk Alone”, as an example of how they hope to convey positive values through sports.

The idea of a football tournament was born when the younger orphans mentioned the occurrence of bullying incidences at the orphanage. However, looking at the teamwork displayed throughout the tournament, it was hard to imagine that there ever was a bullying problem.

Muhamad Syafiq Birosli, 16, who was crowned the ”Top Scorer” for scoring 10 goals in three matches, says, “I feel very proud winning the trophy, and I’m very happy because this is the first time anybody has done something like this – playing with us and taking the time to know us.”

Cheong Nian Ting, 17, a student volunteer from the Business & Social Enterprise (BZSE) course, was glad that she came for the trip. She says, “I think the event was quite meaningful because it incorporated fun and helped to solve the bullying problem at the same time.”

And SEC intends to continue with the work here. Justine says, “We don’t want this to be a one-shot event, where we just take a picture and go after it is done.”

Sustainable Social Projects:

The football tournament served as a scope-out session, where the participants of the Young Social Entrepreneurs Competition 2010 surveyed the premises, and thought of ideas to take up a more active role in helping the community by introducing sustainable social projects.

Wholly student-initiated, the NP Student Entrepreneurship Club (SEC) came up with the Young Social Entrepreneurs Competition 2010 and the orphanage may be one of the first few beneficiaries.

“Some of the BZSE students may have ideas for social enterprises, [so we’re giving them the opportunity] to put their ideas into action. The winning group will get the chance to implement their plans for (the  betterment of) the Rumah Barkat orphanage,” says Krystle Foo, 18, a second-year BZSE student.

Soule: A sole for every soul. Visit http://www.selfless-shoe.blogspot.com/ for more information.

A social enterprise with a “Buy one, give one free” concept; for every pair of shoes or slippers a customer buys, another pair is given away to needy children.

Soule consists of three youths, Justine Lee, Lim Jing Ying and John Tay, final-year students in BZSE, Mass Communication, and Business Studies respectively.

The trio will release “Baby Soule,” their baby rompers series, between end of May and mid-June. Proceeds will go to the Shoes 2 School Fund to help underprivileged children in Singapore.

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