There’s Beauty in the Simple Things

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Millenials are often moving at the speed of light. We do not settle for mediocrity, and we are constantly in search of something better. Sometimes, this leads us to continuously want more rather than be content with what we have.

Reflecting upon a quote by Confucius: “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated”, this especially hits our generation hard: does it really matter what kind of brands we wear, or how attractive our social media feeds are? Are we constantly on a quest to find something that’s always better and grander?

Being an intern at Heartware Network, I was exposed to a lot of unseen cases in Singapore; these include the plight of children from underprivileged backgrounds who are unable to afford a holistic education, as well as the case of vulnerable elderly who live in isolation. Back home in Brunei, I’m sure these communities do exist. However, the plight of these communities were not commonly known among the youth population. It came to me as a shock that there exist such dire circumstances in the community.

When I was first told that I will be assisting the Support Our Pioneers (SOP) programme, I wondered to myself – “why do the elderly need to be frequently visited” or “how hard can it possibly be for them” or “don’t their children look after them?”. With this mindset in place (and pardon my ignorance), I initially didn’t take the visitations seriously. My first deployment was on 10th March 2018 and I was assigned to work in a pair with another volunteer. We were both given 5 households to visit at Taman Jurong.

During the visitation, I was briefed that our main objective was to casually converse with the elderly and get to know them at a personal level. This meant inquiring about their daily lives and listening to their backstories. Along with the help of my partner, I slowly began to understand the need for this visitation. However, what I found most striking was the fact that these elderly lived alone despite having their own children, which is a rare case in my home country. I could not fathom the idea of my own grandparents living in isolation – and this made me develop greater empathy for these elderly.

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Me (seated, second from the left) with my grandparents and cousins.

When I inquired about their children, most of the them shared that they were either busy with work or they are content with their predicament. However, I can discern from their tone the loneliness that they feel every day. Some were even teary eyed when they recounted stories of their children.

However, despite living alone, most of these elderly are very independent. They are able to cook for themselves and source for ingredients on their own at the nearby supermarkets. Some of them, on the contrary, had mobility issues – they are not as agile as they used to be which becomes part of their daily struggle. Some cannot even use the toilet by themselves, let alone cook or do household chores.

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One of the elderly, Mdm Hoon, sharing her past experience with us.

Seeing these realities made me realise that perhaps I may have taken things for granted and that it wouldn’t hurt to be a little more grateful for what I have, and be more appreciative of the “simple things”. In our everyday lives, we youngsters seek to accomplish as much as possible – constantly challenging and taking on impossible tasks which result in the ‘complications’ of our daily lives. However, we fail to realise that there are others who have it worse and who genuinely require our help.

One of the elderly whom we visited shared that she sells canned soft drinks during her free time at home. When we asked her the reason for doing so, she stated she embarked on the business to exercise her legs and constantly be on the move. It is wonderful to see how she is able to live her life so positively and cheerfully despite her circumstances. She even told us that she feels good selling canned soft drinks as opposed to doing nothing. Through this, I realised that it isn’t that hard to make our lives wonderful. Sometimes even the simplest things can brighten up our day – should we choose to see it.

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One of our volunteers waiting patiently for the elderly to open the door.

My past few weeks in Heartware Network has got me thinking a lot. Having been born into more privileged circumstances, I should appreciate what I have instead of thinking about the things I don’t really need. It is true that we are busy with our own lives. But I hope that we could at least appreciate the simple things, and spare some time to lend a helping hand to those who are in need.

This article is written by Bryan Tham Wei Hong, Intern at Heartware Network.