Amid the fight against Covid-19, stories of good neighbourliness all across Singapore are being shared on social media.
In Ang Mo Kio, a resident received a cake from an upstairs neighbour as a small appreciation for tolerating the noise from her children.
In Fernvale, newly acquainted neighbours started an impromptu jam session from their balconies, and even got a standing ovation from residents in the same block.
And who can forget the hand sanitizers that were covertly left in lifts at Punggol, Teck Ghee, Choa Chu Kang and Pasir Ris estates, among others, when the coronavirus first hit our shores?
At my own block in Punggol, I have been blessed with friendly neighbours ever since we moved in five years ago. But the circuit breaker has certainly brought out our block’s kampung spirit even more than before.
In the last few weeks, I have been treated to ice cream, avocados, cake and pizza from my neighbours. How lucky am I to be able to get these free treats without having to leave my home or send an order on a food delivery app!
Similarly, I have also reciprocated my neighbours’ kindness by cooking food extra during the month of Ramadan to share with both my Muslim and non-Muslim neighbours alike.
And the generosity has gone past just sharing makan. I have loaned my neighbours stationery such as staplers and erasers. I even managed to borrow a computer mouse when mine suddenly went kaput while working from home.
In a country where relationships with neighbours tend to be at most a friendly smile and a casual greeting, it may sound a little odd that I can borrow such items from my neighbours. But the kampung spirit in my neighbourhood has been so genial that when some neighbours needed to run errands, we lent them our family car so that they needn’t take public transport or carry heavy groceries too far.
Community groups and even government agencies have tried to foster Singapore’s kampung spirit – that sense of camaraderie and caring for one another – in the past. But it is during this circuit breaker that I have seen the kampung spirit forged anew as we come together as equals to confront our shared predicaments.
From the stories we have heard emerge from this pandemic, Singaporeans may be practising safe distancing, but we are definitely not socially distant. Instead, we have bonded in solidarity, unity and empathy. People have become less preoccupied with chasing deadlines and meeting KPIs, so that we now have more time to connect, whether virtually or with those living near us. We have become more sociable with the people around us because it is the most accessible human connection we can find during this circuit breaker, even if it is from one metre away.
A Facebook group called #BlockWatchSG exemplifies what it means to be good neighbours by encouraging members to take care of those who live within their own blocks. This voluntary community project provides resources to print out and put up at their lift lobbies, letting fellow neighbours know how to reach out if they need help with grocery runs or food. Members have helped those on stay-home notice, those in quarantine and the elderly in their block.
With more time spent at home, there are many opportunities for you to be the neighbour you wish you lived next to. If you don’t know your neighbours that well yet because you just moved in or are too shy to start a conversation, this is a good time to challenge yourself. Here are some initiatives to help you ignite the kampung spirit in your neighbourhood.
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Now, more than ever, neighbours need to look out for each other. Here’s a simple challenge: help your neighbour! It…
Here’s a simple challenge: Help your neighbour! It could be anything from getting groceries, ‘dabao-ing’ a meal, loaning an item, or doing any kind deed.
Simply take a picture of the kind deed and post it with hashtags #hoodchampsg, #BeGreaterSG and #yourhood (e.g. #Hougang or #Woodlands or #Tampines).
Tag three friends to do the same, and get a chain of neighbourly kindness going!
You also get to gain Hood Points for your neighbourhood on hoodchampions.sg
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Kampung Kakis is inspired by co-founder Tan Li Mei’s experience of having survived Covid-19. Her ordeal has inspired her to want to pay it forward and make a difference in the community, especially for the elderly who don’t have caregivers and other people who may be falling through the cracks of society. You can sign up to be a Kampung Kaki to support vulnerable residents in your neighbourhood.
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Many good neighbourliness stories have been shared via the hashtag #GoodKindSG
The challenge is to think of something good and kind you can do for someone ie. your neighbour, and share about it on social media to inspire others to do the same!
What’s your experience with your own neighbours? Write in to us!