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The social service sector in Singapore from the perspective of a 23-year-old fresh graduate

Published: 29 May 2020, Friday

The social service sector in Singapore from the perspective of a 23-year-old fresh graduate

As we enter the final week of Circuit Breaker, our super ex-intern Ezekiel Goh, 23, shares thoughts of his experience at helping out, once again, at Food from the Heart. (Given his constant contributions, one might argue he never really left. :)

The below represents Ezekiel's reflections and opinions as an individual.


Circuit Breaker 2020 has been a rather unique and eye-opening experience for me. While many of my friends were confined to the boundaries of their homes, I was blessed to be provided with an opportunity to get out of my house and give back to the community. Throughout the past 6 - 7 weeks, I have been putting in hours at Food from the Heart, a food charity that focuses on providing support through food ration distribution.

It has honestly been a very tiring month plus of being at Food from the Heart. I was contributing alongside the Logistics Team, which originally had four members but was down by one because the fourth member: Uncle Toh was on medical leave.  He is also above 65 years old and had to be redeployed.

The other three members of the team are Muslim, and as this Circuit Breaker period coincides with Ramadan, it was extra tough. Yes, they were fasting while performing such an energy-consuming job – something many people would consider impossible. So I knew in some way, I had to give a bit more physically, but man was it tough. Welfare packs that were originally 5-10kg are now upsized  to 10-15kg, and the number of food packs per delivery had increased.

*Factual input from Food from the Heart: the Logistics Team is in charge of delivering food packs in bulk. This means loading and unloading between 50 to 200 food packs per location (and for one location, almost 1,200 food packs monthly.) In these COVID times, our Logistic Team delivers to about five locations per day, as well as picks up unsold food items from retail outlets for redistribution.

This was no coincidence. Many people had lost their jobs and required emergency financial aid to tide them over the month. Some who were home-based business owners had it even worse. Due to safety measures, some of these owners were completely unable to rake in any income as they still had to care for their children. There is often no stand-in caretaker for them to go out and work. And even if there was, there was nowhere open for them to find a job.

It helped me reflect. No matter how bored I felt at home, that boredom PALES in comparison to the financial trouble some others are facing. We can always find a way to engage ourselves, but for them, they’re stuck.

As I see it, the financial situation for those affected is not going to improve for the foreseeable future until we reach a point where the COVID-19 pandemic gets better or the economy recovers, but that will take years. Many families will plunge below the poverty line, leaving them reliant on financial aid. I think I’ll settle for being bored at home over that.

So please, think about the bigger picture come June 2nd. Unless it’s ESSENTIAL, please don’t go rushing out to meet your partner/friends. This includes driving to their house to deliver food/pass something. The last thing we need is another cluster forming. And the worst mindset to have is “I won’t be so unlucky, it won’t be me.”

It has also helped me appreciate the little things. Seeing silent schools felt eerie, and not being able to see my grandparents for the past 7 weeks felt horrible but necessary. It has made me crave for a quick return to the norm, whatever that is now.

One thing is for sure; this COVID-19 experience has shown me that my heart truly lies in service learning and giving back to the community, and were it not for my responsibilities and duty as an only child to provide for my family financially, I would surge into the service learning community post-haste. But I can also contribute in my position as a teacher-to-be by raising awareness amongst my students. So I guess that’ll be a good medium for me to settle on now, until the opportunity arises for me to dive into the service learning scene.


#FoodfromtheHeart #covid19
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