A Day at the Istana Open House

Jul 29, 2018   |   Wong Zheng Kai

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The Istana – Malay for ‘palace’ – is home to the President of the Republic of Singapore and is one of the most secure locations in the country. A few times every year, however, its white gates emblazoned with the national crest in gold are thrown open to the public.

The Istana was opened to public on Sunday, the 29th of July, in conjunction with our 53rd National Day celebrations, and Heartware Network was there in the thick of things.

A Pay-It-Forward feature: Donate $2 to fund President’s Challenge beneficiary organisations, and receive a free face tattoo and a bottle of drink!

Six of Heartware’s volunteers were present on the Istana’s grounds at the crack of dawn to set up a temporary face tattoo booth. This group of volunteers were in charge of selling temporary face tattoos for $2 each to raise funds for the President’s Challenge, with the proceeds going to the President’s Challenge beneficiaries.

A child donning the President’s Challenge cap, ecstatic to be sporting an NDP face tattoo of her choice. 

The volunteers worked tirelessly all day long, and brought many a smile to the public. It was truly a joy to see children and toddlers run off to their parents after having picked their favourite National Day tattoo and having it applied onto them.

Heartware also mustered sixty-seven volunteers that accompanied beneficiaries from MINDS, SPD, and MCYC on a day out in the sun. The beneficiaries and the volunteers had a ball of a time roaming the Istana’s grounds; some of the volunteers and beneficiaries even got to go on a tour of the main Istana building itself!

Our volunteers and beneficiaries held hands all the time when walking around. 

Our volunteers had offered to take pictures of this MCYC family after they received flowers. The mother then insisted the volunteers joined the family for this shot! 

The highlight of the day must have been the volunteers and beneficiaries’ chance at interacting and taking a photo with Her Excellency Madam Halimah Yacob and her spouse. Everyone was visibly excited to meet Madam President when she arrived, and were all jostling for a chance to shake her hand and to greet her.

As the sun set that Sunday afternoon over the Istana’s rolling 106 acres, a stream of red shirts could be seen trotting northwards towards the estate’s gates with a spring in their step despite having been out in the sun for half a day.

It was not just the Heartware volunteers who were smiling and buoyed with a quiet happiness; the beneficiaries could be heard chattering excitedly about having met Madam President up-close and in the flesh.

As Heartware staff watched the volunteers and beneficiaries file out, it seemed like that there was no better way to celebrate National Day than to have Singaporeans of every stripe and background come together for a day out in the sun.

A final group shot at the booth!

Thank you to our volunteers for making a great weekend outing at the Istana Open House!

For more volunteering opportunities under the President’s Challenge Volunteer Drive, visit www.youthbank.sg now!