Project HomeWorks (with Habitat for Humanity Singapore)
Project HomeWorks works to improve the living conditions of the elderly and people with physical disabilities who are unable to maintain a clean home environment. This is achieved by improving……
1. Safety (decluttering, repair works, improving access)
2. Sanitation (discarding of rotting food items, replacing bedbug-infested furniture, re-painting stained walls, cleaning and washing affected areas of the home.)
Regular volunteers would be trained to become mentors to help Habitat staff to organise every HomeWorks session and guide youth participants from various tertiary institutes on maintaining a home unit. I started volunteering with Habitat for Humanity Singapore since November 2014. I was interning with Habitat at that point of time so It came as an opportunity for me to provide service to the community. I was encouraged to take part in one of their main youth projects (Youths@Project HomeWorks) which I gladly took up. Being a Resource & Development intern, it would be a direct touch point for me to understand more about what Habitat does at the ground level.
First session in Bedok North was not as bad as I thought it would be as what my team mainly did was housekeeping and cleaning for our unit. It did give me opportunity to interact with the youth participants to understand better why they chose to take their time off on a Saturday to volunteer instead of doing things that youths normally would do. Therefore, I decided to become a regular volunteer and embark on this project.
I experienced challenging cases as I attended more sessions. One of the sessions I attended in Toa Payoh gave me a glimpse of the unseen side of Singapore. Singapore is usually viewed as a clean & vibrant garden city filled with modern condominiums and where people earn one of the highest income based on GDP per capita. However, we tend not to notice that every country has its own not-so-pleasant side. I was given a unit where hoarding of items and furniture was severe. When I went in the house, I could hardly believe what I saw as the sight of plastic bags filled with their belongings and furniture was stacked to the ceiling. Smell of mustiness filled the air and I saw what seemed to be faecal matter stuck on the kitchen floor. I was astonished as I could not believe that there were people living in this condition in Singapore. The neighbourhood cleaners had to be called in to use industrial jet spray to clean off the faecal matter in the kitchen. We moved everything out to sort out what was going to be thrown away and what can be kept. It was a tough yet satisfying session after all.
It was pleasant talking to the homeowners as well. It was then I realised that these people do not just need help to maintain their home, but also someone to talk to and share their concerns with. This session made a strong impact in me and I learned how an individual like myself can make a direct impact to my community. Having experienced that session, it inspired me to educate youth participants every session about current issues within our community and raise awareness among my fellow Rovers and friends. As I studied Marketing previously in Polytechnic which requires me to present often, it was easy for me to share more about Project HomeWorks with the youth participants and encourage them to partake in such activities more during their free time. Helping the homeowners to maintain their house which they would not able to do themselves otherwise was rewarding enough for volunteers and participants to return for more sessions.
What made me to continue volunteering for the project was knowing that at the end of every session, I could leave the house better than it was and put a smile on the home owner’s face. Also, being there to make each session happen allows more youths to participate and be aware of such issues ongoing in our city. It was amusing how volunteers shared that they were doing housework that they normally wouldn’t do in their own home. In a way, Project HomeWorks allowed volunteers including myself to learn some new housekeeping skills. It is great being part of this movement where people all over the world are actively making changes to the world starting from their community.
Recently, I have shared my experience in Project HomeWorks with fellow Rovers and got some to attend the sessions which they found fulfilling. I look forward to having more Rovers to take an active role in making the community better via this project!