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“Singapore Kindness Movement is probably just another charity organisation.”
That was what I thought when I received an email from my poly telling me that I was to have my internship there.
I still remember feeling a little jealous when I heard about other students getting internships at Sentosa or planning for wedding events.
But a few weeks into working at SKM, I quickly realised that while my friends seemed to have the “cool” internships, life at a non-profit was pretty interesting too.
Still, I was super nervous when I first met my teammates! To my relief, they were a lot more welcoming than I’d expected — I guess they really did embody the kindness and graciousness that the organisation tries to integrate into Singapore society.
Even though it was my first full-time job (I’d worked part-time before in retail), they made me feel included in some pretty big projects — it made me feel that they cared about my growth and what I learned.
I helped out at two National Kindness Award events: the Service Gold Awards and Transport Gold Awards, which give recognition and honour to service staff and transport workers — frontliners who have gone an extra mile to lend others a helping hand during their work.
Even though I was busy during the event, I could still sense how the awardees felt appreciated by the gesture, something which we need a lot more of during this pandemic.
Going behind the scenes
From onstage to backstage, I was also involved in video production work that we did with some of the ground-up movements that SKM supports.
During a shoot, I got to chat with Be Kind SG founder Sherry Soon and watched her talk on camera about her vision. She shared about what kept her motivated to continue helping others, especially the invisible communities who are often ignored, despite the stresses of living through the pandemic.
One thing that struck me was when she said that she had a little phrase that she always said to herself — “Things will work out” — whenever she felt discouraged, as a means to keep her motivated about her volunteer work.
I have to admit that I was a little in awe of her, yet when I got to know her a bit better off camera, she really is one of the nicest people around!
That day with Sherry gave me a new perspective on the many “invisible communities” that need help and inspired me to want to do something about it.
At another shoot with another ground-up movement, Kampung Kakis, I spent a day at an HDB block in Boon Lay helping volunteers distribute fruits, vegetables, and other produce to needy residents there.
It was a much different experience as compared to any other volunteer work that I have ever done in school.
I was able to have a chat with some of the volunteers and found out that they are the residents at the HDB block that they are distributing food at!
As I got to know them, I saw how they had so much fun helping each other out — whether it is out of boredom, to interact with others, or even out of a sense of gratitude to repay the kindness that other Kampung Kaki volunteers had shown them before.
It was yet another invaluable lesson learned: That there are generous people living all around us and very often, they just need opportunities to show that kindness to their neighbours around them.
Building on neighbourliness
Talking about neighbourliness, one other project that I was involved in was HoodChampions, which is a programme run by SKM to bring neighbours together.
Before Covid hit, HoodChampions used to set up food sharing sessions (called Let’s Makan) for residents to welcome each other into their homes. It also organised inter-neighbourhood cooking and sporting competitions to grow the kampung spirit.
Now, one of HoodChampions’ most popular activities is its festive corridor decorating competitions. In fact, there’s still time to submit your corridor for the Chinese New Year competition and stand to win vouchers and other prizes!
What touched me the most are the heartfelt comments left by the participants, most of them are so polite and understanding that it has restored my faith in people.
At the end of my internship, I was glad to have gained new experiences at SKM.
I now know why we need to be a kinder society. More importantly, I know how we can be: Through caring for those around us and having the courage to stand up for others when a situation calls for it.
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And to surround myself with people who talk the talk and walk the walk on kindness!