Good morning, everyone.
2. Thank you very much for this collaboration. You are doing meaningful work for your residents whose testimonies have shown that they have found it very useful. For a long time, corporates, schools and universities tend to do community work for just one time. We appreciate it very much even if it is for one time.
3. But increasingly, what we need is not the one-time big community effort, but constant work on the ground at a pace that we can sustain. I have a personal example to share. My daughter wanted to do charity work and asked how she could help the community. I told her not to do just one time at a big event. Instead, I asked her to try to help one child and commit herself to a couple of hours every day. She went to one of the charities and became a mentor to one of the primary school kids. Every Saturday, she spends about two to three hours with the kid as a mentor. While the pretext is to help him with his homework, the larger objective is to serve as a role model to the kid, who is now in secondary school. She found it very meaningful, and it is not a one-time big effort. It is a constant, weekly commitment.
4. I find such regular commitment very meaningful, but you need to pace yourself. If you find that the time spent on the community is eating into your personal, family and study time, you need to have a break. But I think it is important to feature that as part of your life. Yesterday I was at a corporate family day with Micron. They have decided to devote a bit of time to community work, so they roster their employees and deliver community service at a constant pace.
5. It is especially needed now because of our ageing population. We want to take better care of our seniors, and we have set up the hardware, such as our Active Ageing Centres (AACs). Tzu Chi Seniors Engagement & Enabling Node has done a lot of work the ground. But while we can do all the work and put in all the money, we still need people. It is very hard for a single AAC to make this very vibrant without volunteers walking the ground and knocking on doors together with our Silver Generation Ambassadors. They help to talk to our seniors and tell them more about the Community Health Assist Scheme, AACs, Healthier SG or vaccination.
6. Slowly build that rapport and friendship with our seniors, who will then come down to our centres. Otherwise, if we build the facilities, but do not have enough people coming in, it is like building a beautiful house without connecting the water, electricity and sewage, which makes it unliveable. We need that last mile connection and that is why we need the help of all our communities.
7. I hope you remember two points. Seniors love seeing young people. When young people knock on their doors and talk to them, just be yourself and do not feel like you are talking to a senior. The seniors really enjoy that. To our aunties and uncles, you really light up their day.
8. Secondly, to all polytechnics, now that you get into the hang of this, maybe you can consider including service learning as part and parcel of all your programmes. If we can do that, and everyone puts in a bit of constant effort to help out in the community, we would have a very different society.
9. Singapore has an ageing population, and it may be difficult for some of us to take care of our own parents and grandparents. Instead, we can do this together. It may mean that you may have less time for your own grandparents, but there are other youths and volunteers who are also helping. In the meantime, you are also helping to take care of someone else’s grandparent. When you do it like that together, I think it is a happier, healthier and more effective way of taking care of our seniors. It means different groups coming together, doing different things for each other.
10. In the future, it is not just polytechnics or polyclinics, but we should have a poly community – different groups doing different things for people that makes ourselves much stronger. Today is a very good example and I am very heartened by the good work. Thank you very much.