Some of them have dealt with being called delinquents and hoodlums, but a group of local Malay youths are rising above stereotypes to pass on blessings of food and prayers to the less fortunate in their community.
They are our Braders.
Yesterday, community organisation Braders SG released a video that showed some 12 of their youth members out to spread goodwill by paying for people’s meals at the Geylang Serai and Woodlands Bazaar.
Pooling a total of $428 out of their own pockets, the group went on a quest to “payung” ( colloquial Malay for ‘cover’ or ‘treat’) those whom they thought needed it the most, notably youths and elderly.
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This attracted entertaining reactions from the recipients, from being pleasantly surprised to looking confused. Most came away happy though, as seen in the photos of the recipients holding up a placard with the statement “Jalan Cakap Braders Tak Payung” which loosely translates to “Don’t say that a brother doesn’t have your back”.
Speaking to The Pride, 22-year-old tour guide Abdul Muiz, one of the older members of Braders SG, explained that doing kind deeds was in the community’s DNA.
“We are a community created for the youth, by the youth, to spread messages and actions of goodwill within our community,” said Muiz.
Pointing out that it was considered a double blessing to give food or perform acts of charity in the holy month of Ramadan, Muiz said: “We want our members to develop good habits early, to understand how it feels like to do good and realise the satisfaction of giving to those who are less fortunate.”
With 67 members in the group who are between 15 to 26 years in age, Braders SG was started in 2013 with the idea of being a platform to counter bad influences that can plague the youth community.
Citing problems like gangsterism and drugs, Muiz explained: “We realized that addiction to either is primarily a social problem, so we created Braders.”
And while there are other outreach activities available out there, a personal touch can be key.
“We speak their lingo, understand their trends, and are able to connect with their situations. They can always talk to anyone of us, we aren’t judgemental people.”
To keep their members busy, Braders SG started their own kompang (a traditional percussion instrument) group to provide the youths with a creative outlet and an opportunity to give back to the community by offering their services at a cheaper rate.
Muiz added: “We also have bonding events like bowling or short trips to Malaysia to foster a better relationship with our members and keep them off the streets.”
With their kind deed attracting some 33,000 views and over 478 shares on Facebook, the video has allowed others to see the Braders SG members in a different light.
Muiz hopes that people can keep an open heart to look beyond what they see, and realise that the way a person looks or behaves can also be a product of a difficult past or simply the type of environment they grew up in.
“We want to break the stigma of appearances. Just because some of us look ‘bad’ or less religiously inclined doesn’t necessarily mean that we are.”