Friday, May 27, 2011

One small step for Envisage, One BIG step into creating the change we want!

On 26th May 2011, team Envisage spent the whole night and early morning working endlessly (Not even dozing off) to pack the last piece of Poverty Simulation tool kit, so to bring to YuYing Secondary School a social education program, that will give the youths a small taste of what urban poverty is like.

The purpose of our hope and dream is deeply rooted in our determination to educate and equip the youths of our nation the right service-oriented attitude towards the less fortunate. "Poverty" though no small problem in out society, is simply just an issue to enable the youths to realize that there are REAL people with REAL needs out there, who require our help.

And the first step to providing REAL help, is through EMPATHY.
The ability to put yourself into the shoes of others.

With the 3 concurrent workshop held in YuYing Secondary School, that brings our total number of students participated in the program ran by Envisage to 675. Although it may seem like its just another increase in numbers, I felt that it should be recognized as a monumental milestone.
As it is the first time that Envisage worked so hard to create 2 more sets;
so to enable us for the first time to run 3 concurrent workshops.
This is also for the first time that we embarked upon providing this program to the entire secondary 3 level all at once for half a day;
and also for the first time brought along 23 other PASSIONATE volunteers to make the program a success in YuYing Secondary School.

With every workshop we run in schools, we constantly improvise and we constantly seek to make sure that our program reach greater success.

Success in my opinion would be when we can effectively influence these youths towards genuine service for the disadvantaged, and a much heighten consciousness to uphold social justice and fight for it for the rest of their lives.

To Team Envisage, especially my friends who labored along side with me (Having to dedicate so much time and effort; even when they had to serve in their internship the next day), all the volunteers who helped out, especially to James Norris, Vicknesh, Dawn, Alodie, Leon and all the beloved change-makers!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Doing Our Part for Society - A sharing I wrote in 2009

This is a write up which I did in 2009, when Jun Cheng the very first president of NTU-SIFE asked me to share something which i strongly believe in just when I joined the club. 

This is a really interesting find as I was organizing the files and folders in my computer. 
Being of great personal reflective value for comparing my thoughts and believes then and now.

I hope that it will inspire you towards doing your part in society.

*Some editing have been done since then.

It is impossible to live without failing in something. Unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not lived at all. In which case, you fail by default. – J.K Rowling

These were the words which I believe most of us should be able to draw relations with.  It is this attitude that I believe motivate ourselves towards pursuing our personal goals and dreams.

However, what are these goals and dreams, which we the fortunate academics have devoted our lives and resources for? Are they goals or dreams which gratify ourselves, or do they serve a higher purpose?

In the modern society where success is often perceived as equivalent to monetary accruement, the perception and believe in non-self gratifying activities are often regarded as unconstructive and absolute foolishness.

However, I believe that each of us is blessed with the ability, time and resources to do much more than acts of self-gratification. We have been given the gift to love. Love not as a mere emotional affection or for the purpose of self-profit, but the capability to show and render sincere compassion and assistance to those less fortunate without the desire for personal return. Therefore, all of us whom have been revealed of the truth regarding the state of poverty and violence that still exist within this seemingly perfect world, ought to do their part in correcting these imperfections.

NKJV 1 Corinthians 13:1-4
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a changing cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. Although I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. LOVE suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; “

Lastly, as what has been mentioned by J.K Rowling, having the opportunity to study in a rather popular university, would prove the fact that we have never experienced true failures. Failures that could cost a life, failures that could cause sufferings to many of your love ones. All of us, who are or have been pursuing a course of higher learning, are truly blessed with the financial means and opportunity to do so.

Yes, this opportunity was given to us because of our personal hard work. However, it should be known that it is a fact that there are millions of people in the world who are not given the opportunity to receive education from young. Even in Singapore, for those who have done poorly in academics, it is not simply because they were born lazy or less intellectual, but often because of the circumstances in life that led them astray and pressured them into making immature decisions in life that destroyed their future. Worsen by an education system that condemns these individuals from an early stage of their lives. Thus, we ought to use what we have been blessed for the benefit of those whom have been denied of these blessings.

As mentioned in the book,Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism” by Mohammad Yunus, all the talents of the world have the ability to contribute towards eliminating poverty. The creative solutions and operation efficiencies of the corporate world has the ability to bring great benefits.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Generous Justice Part 3: Faith must produce works

This is Part 3 of the 3 part series of my reflections on the book Generous Justice.

Forewarning that it may get too religious for some people. But please be patient and open, and I pray that this set of reflections be a blessing to you.

My intention with these reflections is for each of us to be more generous in our graciousness and love to others (Especially to the disadvantaged). Hence, do note that these reflections are to be utilized for oneself, and not be used to judge others. 

James 2:14, 17 Tells us that Faith without works is dead. Hence Faith must produce works.

James 2:15-16 Tells us that the Change of life in us through salvation is not solely of a general or spiritual change, but an entire change of a person's life. In being empowered to show true grace to others, without it being sourced from sin or ill intentions.

An example of how this grace can be seen in Christian is how we should and could live a life that pours out deeds of service to the poor (and disadvantaged). This is an inevitable sign of any real, true justifying gospel faith. Any proclaimed faith/salvation without such attitude to serve the disadvantaged are unreal and dead.

Therefore, if Christians proclaim to be Christians, they have to be fervent in their service towards the less fortunate. To be more specific, if a Christian witness injustice and does not act on it (Confront it), then he/she is just a hypocrite. Nevertheless, that is not to discount the fact that some may choose to act on injustice through indirect approaches such as using the law/appeal to the government rather than outright confrontation (Which may result in more harm than good).

Nevertheless, a True Heart for God requires us to be like Christ Jesus who was born destined to die for us on the cross, and that would simply mean that no matter what approach (Direct/Indirect) we take in the end, we have to have the intention and desire to take active actions against injustice.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Urban Poverty in Singapore

My heart pains that people choose to ignore the true pleas of disadvantaged Singaporeans...... 

Choosing to ignore the fact that urban poverty does exist, standard of living is shooting up without rise in income (other than those of ministers), and the fact that soon Singapore is going to be a country where less than 50% of us are true Singaporeans.

Want some prove? See the following videos: