This year marks the second year that I am an Ambassador for Habitat for Humanity Singapore's Bare Your Sole campaign. While my family and I got to participate in the campaign by walking barefoot for 2km last year, I got the chance to further familiarise myself with the meaningful work that Habitat for Humanity Singapore does a few weekends ago.
Project HomeWorks is a programme initiated by Habitat for Humanity Singapore aimed to improve the living conditions of elderly people living in one- and two-room rental flats, so as to make their homes safer and cleaner.
Studies have shown that many elderly people and people with disabilities live alone in Singapore, and are without any regular domestic help. Some of them are unable to maintain a clean home environment, which usually results in their living spaces being cluttered with all sorts of items, including old unusable things and expired foodstuff.
So this is where volunteers come in and do a one-time intense cleaning which includes the removal of pests and replacement of broken furniture and bedding. And so that was what the group of volunteers and me set out to do on a bright and early Saturday morning.
I was assigned to a team who was in charge of cleaning Mr. Tan's home. According to my team lead, Tim, the home was not as cluttered as other units that he had experienced. Still, there was the issue of bed bug infestation. While his place had already been fumigated before we arrived, I learned that the eggs of the bed bugs can only be totally eradicated by hot steam.
We began by shifting out all of the furniture, and and cling-wrapping the the mattress and pillows before cleaning the bed frames.
And then I turned executioner and started my killing spree - all for a good cause of course... because the bed bugs that somehow escaped the fumigation deserved it.
The stains on the wall that you see in the above photo are all the remains of bed bugs being squished by Mr. Tan over the months. Ugh.
We then emptied the wardrobe, packed the clothes into bags and sent them to the washing machine downstairs to be washed clean.
Meanwhile, the youngsters in the team were hard at work scrapping peeling paint off the walls and plastering over any cracks. I can tell that they were very experienced! :)
I was in charge of scrubbing the walls clean so that a layer of fresh paint could be applied after that.
Trust me when I say scrubbing the walls was tough work!
Unfortunately, that was all to my contribution as I received a call from MINDEF not too long after and was notified that my reservist unit had been mobilised for a call-up. I bade the team farewell, as they continued with the painting work.
And this was how Mr Tan's home looked after the cleaning. Definitely a fantastic job done!
Even though I did not manage to complete my volunteer work with the team - and I am not sure how much difference I made to Mr Tan's life - I am thankful that the team was able to bring some cheer to him. For me, it was a sobering experience to see the other side of Singapore that I hardly come into contact with. Above all, it was heartwarming to see how the volunteers came together to chip in and satisfying to see the transformation process of the home for ourselves.
Admittedly, younger kids are not suited to volunteer with Project HomeWorks... BUT you can still help out with your family AND enjoy some family bonding time too! How? By going barefoot!
Bare Your Sole is Habitat for Humanity Singapore’s annual barefoot fundraising and advocacy campaign. People of all ages and from all walks of lives come together to walk barefoot to raise awareness of the plight of those less fortunate among us. It offers Singaporeans and visitors alike a tangible taste of what it’s like to walk in the shoes, or lack thereof, of the communities-in-need that Habitat Singapore serves in Asia Pacific.
Funds raised from Bare Your Sole will go towards funding Project HomeWorks, and help Habitat for Humanity Singapore reach its target of $400,000. The monkies participated in the 2km walk at Sentosa last year and they thoroughly enjoyed it!
Initially, the monkies were mindful of where they stepped and nearly every step was punctuated with an 'Ouch' or 'Oww' but as the walk wore on, they gamely completed the distance. I think it made them appreciate the little things - like shoes- that we take for granted in life.
This year's Bare Your Sole event will be held on 10 September 2016 at OCBC Square (in front of Kallang Wave Mall). Registration has already started and will close on 12 August 2016. There are two walking routes to choose from: 2.5 km or 5 km, and if you have kids under 7 years old, fantastic news - sign up as an individual ($45) and you can bring up to 2 kids for FREE! For other rates and registration, visit HERE.
Bare Your Sole 2016
10 September 2016
7.30am - 12pm
OCBC Square (in front of Kallang Wave Mall)