A Fair Chance at Being Treated Right

Sep 21, 2018   |   Toh Guan Ru

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Hi, I’m Guan Ru and I’m 16 this year. I’m a student from Northbrooks Secondary School, and will be taking my national exam this year.

I came by Heartware Network through a talk in my school. We had an assembly period, and the topic for the day was Kindness, and Heartware was a guest speaker.

In 15 minutes, I learnt about the goodness of volunteer work, the staff’s own experience as a volunteer, and what opportunities Heartware could offer. What I heard really impacted me, that I could do some good despite it being an important year for me academically. I decided to join, and wasted no time in signing up.

I participated in 3 different Heartware volunteering events, all of which were under the President’s Challenge Volunteer Drive (PC):

  • The National Day Parade 2018 Combined Rehearsal 3 PC Engagement

This was when we brought beneficiaries from MINDS Me Too! Club, Daughters of Tomorrow, MDAS, and ABLE Singapore down to the National Day Parade. It was the first time watching the parade live for some of the beneficiaries and caregivers.

Volunteers were separated into two groups: Those managing booth, and those accompanying beneficiaries from MCYC Community Services Society, MINDS Me Too! Club, and SPD at the Istana Open House in lieu of the National Day Parade. I was part of the booth management team.

  • One Run 2018

Volunteers supported and befriended 18 MINDS and 54 Dyslexia Association Singapore clients during the Run. Participants had to complete 8 rounds around Chinese Garden to get the Contributor shirt, and volunteers ran a few more rounds to earn the shirts on behalf of their clients. Both volunteers and beneficiaries did Zumba, did the rounds, and enjoyed activities in the mini carnival area.

I will be sharing more on the Istana Open House, which one of the more memorable volunteering experiences for me. My responsibility as a volunteer was to help to maintain a full-day booth, where we sold face tattoos to the public, and each face tattoo came with a bottle of drink. This meant that when a member of the public purchased a tattoo, he or she received a free bottle of drink.

That’s me with the PM crew at the tattoo booth. I’m third from the left.

The booth was made more meaningful with a Pay-It-Forward feature. On top of any purchases made for themselves, members of the public could also donate $2 and reserve a face tattoo for clients under President’s Challenge beneficiary organisations. The clients could then redeem the tattoos for free.

After donating $2, the public could also write notes for the President’s Challenge beneficiaries. When the beneficiaries redeemed a note each, they too could get a face tattoo and bottled drink. 

During the Open House, I managed to interact with the public and President’s Challenge clients, especially those from the Movement for Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) Me Too! Club. We asked the clients which face tattoo they liked from the Pay-It-Forward plan. That was actually my first time interacting with individuals with intellectual disability, and my impression of them was great. We were able to understand each other, and they were very cooperative.

I really enjoyed and learnt a lot from our interactions. A huge lesson gained was that we should treat everyone fairly and equally. We should help those in need instead discriminating people who are less fortunate than us.

Of course, there were some difficulties in managing the booth with limited number of volunteers and large traffic coming towards us. We were unable to serve all of them quickly, and some members of the public asked why the booth was moving so slow. But we managed to explain the situation, and kindly requested for them to queue up patiently for the face tattoo.

It was a constant crowd from morning till evening, and we did our best to serve everyone well.

Through this volunteering experience, I learnt about teamwork, as I would to work with my fellow volunteers to ensure that the booth ran well. Teamwork was displayed when we delegated tasks amongst us, with 2 volunteers helping with the drinks, 2 taking charge of recording the number of face tattoos purchased, and the remaining applying the face tattoos. We also took turns to exchange roles.

A beneficiary and caregiver from MINDS Me Too! Club checking out the variety of face tattoos at the booth. They needed only to redeem the tattoo from the Pay-It-Forward plan.

Watch: Our volunteer work at the Istana Open House – National Day Parade

Volunteering helped me a lot as I learnt important values like graciousness, as I was allowed to contribute to the community by doing a simple good thing as handling the donation booth at this Open House. At the end of the day, the effort I contributed led to collection of funds that would be distributed to the various charity organisations under President’s Challenge. I had helped people who were less fortunate than me in such a way.

Thank you Heartware and President’s Challenge Volunteer Drive for such an opportunity, and I look forward to continue volunteering again after clearing my exams.

Wish me luck!


If you wish to volunteer for the Istana Open House with Heartware Network under the President’s Challenge Volunteer Drive, another round is coming up on 6 Nov 2018. 

More details here. See you!