MY Big Sweep – Ares Faculty’s Collective Effort in Serving the Elderly

Ares Faculty’s Community Involvement Programme (CIP) was held over four Saturdays in April (2nd, 9th, 16th and 23rd April). Two participants share with the Publications Society their reflections.

23rd April 2016 marked the end of “MY Big Sweep”, a Faculty CIP activity organised by Ares Faculty Committee members in collaboration with Metropolitan YMCA. This saw Aresians heading out to the MacPherson and Eunos estates over the course of four weeks to clean the homes of the elderly, especially for those who are living alone and are too weak to do so. Armed with our steely determination and cleaning tools such as mops and toilet scrubs, we removed stains and dust with rigorous fervour, doing our small part to spruce up their homes.

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Attacking dirt in every nook and cranny. Photo Credit: Eleanor Loh (16S7C)

After a morning of exhausting and yet fruitful endeavour, the students invited the elderly to lunch, which was held at their respective Senior Activity Centres. As commented by Law Rei Yin (15S78), an organizing committee member, while many were excited to join us, some were quite reluctant to do so. “There were senior citizens with weak legs or were on wheelchairs, and it was understandable why they did not wish to leave their homes. We wanted to respect their wishes, but we did not want to leave them alone either.” As a result, some Aresians personally brought food up to them, and kept them company by conversing over a delicious meal.

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Taking food to serve the elderly. Photo Credit: Eleanor Loh (16S7C)

Meanwhile at the Senior Activity Centres, the senior citizens and Aresians bonded over good food, stimulating board games, and witty conversations. Those of us who originally saw ourselves as fairly proficient players of chess and other mindsports soon realized that we had more than met our match, and had much to learn from these skilled players.

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Strategizing over the next move. Photo Credit: Eleanor Loh (16S7C)

Our learning, however, went beyond mere chess strategies. “MY Big Sweep” gave us the opportunity to interact with a community of senior citizens within Singapore who are not only wiser, but also cheerier than most. They have not only witnessed the beginnings of modern Singapore, but also seen how Singapore has succeeded against all odds, and contributed immensely to her success. Through our interactions with them, we gained numerous insights about Singapore through learning about the hardships they had endured, as well as their perspectives and opinions about modern Singapore.

“Learning through service, and service through learning” – this line best describes our experience. Many forget that there is a very real aspect to community involvement; a personal connection that you form with the people whom you interact with. We felt that experiences like these allowed us to build strong and sincere relationships with the seniors. Through “MY Big Sweep”, Rei Yin hoped that Aresians would not only have the opportunity to help the elderly, but also be inspired by their optimism and perseverance in the face of adversity. Four Saturdays later, we can safely say that we indeed, have been blessed by spending time with our Seniors.

Written by Er Yuan Ren and Ngai Hei Yee (16S7C)

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