For most of us, Chinese New Year is a wonderful time for family gatherings, where one eats to their heart’s delight. In Singapore, the Community Engagement Program team thought it would be a great time to help the less privileged fill their tummies too. So just before the festive period came to an end, about 15 Arup staff woke up bright and early on a Saturday morning to help out at Willing Hearts. Willing Hearts is a volunteer-based, not-for-profit organisation that provides meals to the underprivileged and needy.
An early start
From 7am onwards, we were busy chopping up vegetables, powdering fish for frying, marinating meats among other chores. Within an hour, the soup kitchen was packed to the brim with volunteers from all walks of life, ranging from banks, media, rotary clubs, to senior citizen clubs. Some of us tagged along with the deliveries thereafter as we witnessed firsthand the people we were helping. While Willing Hearts has its pool of regular volunteers, preparing so many meals on a daily basis is no mean feat. Having a few extra pair of hands, just to take on the simplest chores, goes a long way for our partners – many of whom sacrifice sleep and time to be in the kitchen.
A glimpse into others' lives
Although Singapore continues to prosper and progress, many people are still being left behind. Even though the state provides the needy with some assistance and funding, we soon realised that it is very much a hand-to-mouth situation and these people struggle with the things that we often take for granted. While waking up was perhaps the hardest thing to do that day, it was time well spent and we hope to return to the kitchen regularly from here on!