One Small Talk, One Big Leap

Jul 14, 2018   |   Ahmad Hasif

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My name is Hasif.

I was a student from Meridian Junior College back in 2015-16, and was a member of the Service Learning Club there. In my years of service in the club, we initiated a lot of volunteer projects, particularly in sectors to do with children, elderly, special needs, and environment. I specialized in the Environment sector.

Since graduation, I enlisted for National Service (NS) and passed out as a firefighter in the Special Rescue Unit in SCDF. That’s where I am now.

Volunteering and service became part of my DNA since college days, so I was looking for volunteer opportunities online to fill up the free time I had in between NS duties.

I stumbled across the Heartware website and found a lot of volunteering opportunities. The first one I committed to was an engagement in support of the President’s Challenge Volunteer Drive: the National Day Parade Combined Rehearsal 3 Outing with President’s Challenge beneficiaries organisations MINDS Me Too! Club, Daughters of Tomorrow, MDAS, and ABLE Singapore.

Which group of beneficiaries was I paired up with? If you guessed Daughters of Tomorrow, then you’re right!

As a volunteer, my responsibility was to accompany a family from Daughters of Tomorrow to watch the Rehearsal. I was attached to a Malay family of four, consisting of a young child and a baby.

Despite the initial awkwardness typical of 2 strangers meeting, we got along well. I was concerned over how to sustain a conversation, but we struck a chord and they confirmed my initial impressions of them: they very friendly and were pretty easy to talk to! We took care and looked out for one another the whole time.

One instance was when we were queuing up in line to get into the parade grounds. Because it was so crowded, the volunteer I was paired up with got separated from the family and myself. My fellow volunteer urged us to go ahead into the venue and that he would catch up eventually, but the family insisted to wait for him. They had wanted all of us to enter the venue together. I thought this simple gesture to be really nice and endearing.

So that was one difficulty we faced: Having to stay close to one another in a very crowded area. The family also had a baby and a young child with them, so I made a point to constantly keep a lookout for the child so that she wouldn’t get separated from us.

During the parades, I was quietly observing the family and it seemed that they were enjoying the parades, especially with their young daughter, who was excitedly waving her NDP light stick. At that moment, I felt that watching the parade live was a good chance for the family to spend time with one another

If there was one thing I learnt, it was to take care of people better. The mother was carrying a baby, and the dad’s hands were full with his family’s fun packs, so the young daughter’s well-being became my priority. I made sure she was okay throughout the show.

Here’s my me with the parents of the family, seated and ready for the show.

I’m second from the right, in the second row.

After the show ended, we left the venue together. They wanted to take a taxi home, so we suggested for them to walk a little further down so that it would be easier for them to get a taxi. We thanked each other for the well-spent evening and parted ways at the Helix Bridge.

I felt glad and accomplished, as I was able to volunteer again after a while. I was also happy that I played a role in making the family’s evening a good one.

As an introvert, I find it usually difficult to hold conversations with people, so volunteering really helped me improve my social skills. I have been able to come out of my shell and initiate conversations. Admittedly there were some awkward silences when we were in the long queue, but I managed to make small talk with the family about the weather and the parade. This brings me so much relief.

There is always something to learn from every volunteering event; every experience is enriching. So volunteer more because, like me, you get to develop and discover more about yourself. It’s worth a try!

Volunteer opportunities for President’s Challenge Volunteer Drive is still open!

Know more on how you discover yourself through volunteerism here.