On 9th April 2016, a small army in green gathered outside Block 117 at Jalan Bukit Merah, armed with cleaning and painting supplies. It was the first day of “Silver Homes”, Athena Faculty’s Community Involvement Programme (CIP) and the participants were geared up to paint the town red (or white in this case).
All geared up for the day’s CIP. Photo Credit: Winnie Hui (16S60)
Held on the 9th, 16th and 23rd of April, Athena Faculty CIP saw participants getting eager to help the elderly. Such has been the tradition for Athenians for the past three years. Tasks ranged from scrubbing homes spotless, repainting walls or gates, collecting furniture, disposing junk and fumigating for bedbugs. Many participants found the job physically demanding, as they cleaned and painted every inch of the homes and carried furniture for several flights of stairs.
Painting every nook and cranny of the elderly residents’ homes. Photo Credit:Tay Li Tong (16S7G)
Yet, one’s heart would be gladdened from the participants’ smiling faces while they worked tirelessly, chatting with each other and the elderly residents as well. It truly was a bonding experience for the Athena classes, as they worked together to provide the elderly a better living environment.
16S60 after a fulfilling day of community service. Photo Credit: Daniel Lim (16S7G)
Of course, this was more than a mere class bonding exercise. The intention of this event was to bring Hwa Chong students out of their comfort zones, teach them how to give back to those in need, and help them appreciate how fortunate they are. As Ng Yi Ying (16S7G) reflected, “The value of service is…to see the faces [of those whom] I am serving and learn their stories to understand how ignorant I am and stay humble.”
Ultimately, it was hard to tell who provided whom with a service. Most, if not all, of the residents were kind and friendly, as they were tolerant of the participants’ novice mistakes, providing small snacks and chatting with the students as the latter worked. It was certainly humbling to listen to the residents’ stories and learn from their life experiences.
According to Teng Nam Thian (15S6E), one of the organisers of “Silver Homes”, planning was rather hectic due to everyone’s conflicting schedules. Nevertheless, he felt that to see the residents being grateful for the help and the students enjoying themselves certainly made the arduous preparations worthwhile.
Written by Daniel Lim (16S7G)