HumanKind doing kind things for other humans

As we journey through this pandemic together, let’s shine the light on humankind. On humans being kind to one another. Taking care of each other.
Seeing each other through.

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

Through stories. We choose not to feed the virus of fear, but of love. To focus not on isolation, but on connections. Not on differences, but on commonalities that unite us.

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

So we’re asking you during this time of lockdowns and quarantines:

Where did you see love today? How did you foster a connection? When were you on the receiving end of compassion?

Scroll down for the answers from our community across Asia, and from the Our Better World team.

To submit your own answers, click here. Or post on social media and tag #OurBetterWorld.

Let’s lift our hopes up for each other, together.

15 APRIL 2020

The invisible heroes amongst us

By Adeline, Freelance Educator and Writer, Singapore

There are heroes whose sacrifices are much less visible than those of our healthcare workers. They are our migrant workers. They build our skyscrapers, our parks and our homes. They do the work that we would never want our children to do. Yet, they are often invisible, unacknowledged and sometimes even discriminated against.

On 11th March this year, a group of us from 3:16 Church went down to Sungei Tengah Lodge, Singapore's largest foreign worker dormitory, to distribute care packs to 100 migrant workers. The aim was to bless them with useful items, such as masks, sanitisers, biscuits and cards that would be mailed home to their families. We worked together with GEMS Tabernacle Singapore and Sojourn, the migrant worker ministry run by The Salvation Army. In preparation for the visit, I had asked some children in my church to do artwork to bless these men.

What struck me the most was the rawness of the lives of the foreign workers. When they streamed in after work at 8pm, they wore worry and weariness on their faces. We were told that some did not want their photographs to be taken because their families did not know that they were working in manual jobs like construction. Most of them willingly agreed to pen messages on the cards for their wives or mothers. There was even a man who helped to write messages for his peers in their mother tongue language, because they could not write it themselves.

I was moved by the sincerity and passion of one particular worker. While most men wrote just their names and their wives' names, this man had a lot more to say.

It was only later when my friend translated the content of the card that reality hit me and I was overwhelmed with compassion. She told me that his card had named each of his family members, his nephews and nieces and that he spoke of himself being well and in God's care. Tears rolled freely as I imagined what it was like to toil for their families and be separated from them, some for years on end. They are fathers, husbands, sons and brothers. They are just like us.

Although I had only spent two hours there, memories flood back as I see the numbers of COVID infections among foreign workers rise each day.

My prayer is for these invisible heroes to stay strong, to know that we are praying for them, and that those who are ill would recover soon.

Above all, thank you for building Singapore. This is your home too.

Photo by Nicholas Punter on Unsplash

A true friend is a blessing indeed

By Cheryl, Singapore

A couple of weeks ago, my partner suffered a fall and had to undergo surgery to fix a fractured knee. It was the first time I had to take on the role of a full-time caregiver and I was starting to get a bit overwhelmed, having to juggle work-from-home, caregiving, follow-up reviews with the doctor and keeping house.

The COVID-19 anxiety and cabin fever during this time didn't help. I reached out to a friend and shared my frustrations. Next thing I knew, I had a care package delivered to the door, comprising a hearty, wholesome meal (because cooking is a real chore; hats off to SAHMs (stay-at-home mums) and full-time caregivers) and some treats for the next couple of days.

Photo by Cheryl Leong

Photo by Cheryl Leong

I was so touched when I saw the spread before me that I cried. I've known my friend since JC days, and though we don't meet that often, she's someone I know I can always count on. And nothing brought that home to me more than her gesture of love and friendship.

Photo by John T on Unsplash

Transporting the gift of life

By Geraldine, Public Education Manager, Bone Marrow Donor Programme, Singapore

The pandemic has made many tasks very challenging, and in my line of work with the Bone Marrow Donor Programme, the transportation of stem cells was greatly affected.

A Malaysian patient was scheduled to receive the bone marrow stems cells from a donor in Singapore on 18th Mar and the harvest of stem cells was planned for 17th Mar. Then the news of the Malaysia lockdown with effect from 0000hr on 18th Mar hit us.

With the usual way of flying into KLIA impossible, we were desperately finding a different option to give this patient a second chance at life. Finally, the best option was to go via the causeway to hand over the stem cells to a Malaysian doctor who would then drive up to KL. The courier would return to Singapore before the lockdown.

With only five hours before the lockdown as the harvest would only be completed on 17th evening, and none of our commercial couriers available, one brave soul stepped forward.

We are extremely grateful to our volunteer courier, Eleanor Choo. Just one call and she was ready to leave. Her friend drove her to collect the stem cells and dropped her off at the Checkpoint at 8pm. From there, she navigated her way through the chaotic causeway with that precious bag of stem cells. After moments of anxiety and what seemed like eternity, she successfully handed the stem cells to the Malaysian doctor and reached Singapore at 11.45pm.

We salute Eleanor for her selfless courage!

Photo by Tobias Weinhold on Unsplash

Reflections in the COVID moment

By Ruth, Regional Manager, Singapore

As COVID-19 fatigue hits, I find myself battling the pull to keep abreast of the news and to seek solace in my faith.

The avalanche of news, tips and forecasts filled my inbox. A mental check-in now mandatory on each call. Lines drawn, walls built, tents pitched between the complacent and the cautious.

Self-awareness. Work from home proved challenging - working from home occasionally and having to work from home are two different things. A need to reevaluate- flexible, adaptable, resilient, etc. qualities we throw about until tested. I repeat to myself, I am blessed.

In recalibrating behaviour, routines and thoughts, a nagging worry (living with elderly parents) seeps in along with helplessness. Hearing nuggets of good, small and warm, makes me smile in its selfless creativity. I repeat to myself, I am blessed.

My manicurist shared with me how this situation got people to step up in supporting each other in their creative ways - all the past "oops that nail colour doesn't suit me" and "my hands are dry" customers are buying products, asking their contacts to get their nails done, treating her to a flow of bubble tea etc. When there was a lack of face masks at the start of COVID-19, she also posted a message online for anyone to come by and collect masks if needed. No questions asked. Her actions done with genuine concern are seeds that has led to her harvest of hope. I repeat to myself, I am blessed.

The simple pleasure of being able to walk in the park has brought out gratitude for all things- a fondness for trees. The sight of big trees with their leafy branches gives me much hope, calm and peace. Trees have weathered storms, heat and drought. Yet they stand strong and tall. I wonder if trees could speak, what would they say. I repeat to myself, I am blessed.

Photo by Philipp Lublasser on Unsplash

13 APRIL 2020

Reaching out to those in need

By Renée, Director, Singapore Art Book Fair, Singapore

Dear friends,

In this time of distress, social isolation and mandated home stays, it is important we take care of ourselves, but more importantly of each other. Staying home really is the most responsible thing you can do.

However, Home is not the same for everyone. Some live with domestic violence, some with sick and elderly parents, others with loved ones living with disabilities. While, it seems, most of our concerns revolve around the lack of human interaction (or in some cases furniture, bubble tea and lottery), we must not forget those of us who don’t have the luxury to worry about such things; those who are, instead, living in fear.

Kind souls, like Renée, have come forward during Singapore's month-long circuit breaker period to help those in need. Don't be shy, reach out to her here. (Photo by Renée Ting)

Kind souls, like Renée, have come forward during Singapore's month-long circuit breaker period to help those in need. Don't be shy, reach out to her here. (Photo by Renée Ting)

As such, from 7 April for a month, I am offering to deliver lunch to anyone in need living in the Ang Mo Kio area. If you have an elderly parent who is home alone throughout the day, or need extra help settling meals for your relatives or domestic helper or kids while you still have to be at work, please drop me a DM. I am happy to extend this service to those on SHN, but of course, priority goes to those who need it more. Rest assured, I will come masked and sanitised.

I am not charging anything, but if you so wish to compensate, maybe we can find a way to barter.

Please extend extra care to each other, the Earth, and yourselves. Check up on friends for whom this isolation is going to be detrimental to their mental healths. Be mindful of the amount of waste you’re generating, reuse and recycle (properly) as much as you can.

More importantly, don’t feel pressured to be productive just cos everyone else seems to be. It’s okay to be still and just listen to some really good music.

Photo by Alex Wong on Unsplash

1 APRIL 2020

Frontline heroes

By Saleemah, Founder, New Life Stories, Singapore

This is Siti who cleans the street in my area just after our early morning chat. For the past four years, she leaves her house in Johor at 4am to start work at 7am everyday.

Thankfully, her employer, Veolia, is a responsible company. They are providing her with free accommodation from today till 1 April so she won't have to lose two weeks salary.

At 10am that day (when the lockdown was announced in Malaysia), Siti went home to pack her clothes, some home cooking and to make alternative care plans for her children while she's away.

It is people like Siti who makes the two hours commute door-to-door from across the Causeway just to keep our Singapore streets clean.

I am grateful for Siti and the other Malaysians who make the long commute each day, every day. And now, once again, they are making a sacrifice. They are sacrificing their time with their children in Johor for two weeks so that they could stay in Singapore to continue their work.

Photo by Saleemah Ismail

Connecting in the check-out line

By Shihui, Programme Director, Common Ground Singapore

Was at the supermarket queuing to pay for my weekly groceries. It’s crowded, but orderly. Since lines were super long, we were people-watching. Suddenly, the elderly gentleman behind me asks, “Girl ah, where you get the eggs?” I offered to help him get a tray, so he doesn’t lose his precious place at the check-out.

When I returned, he shared that he had a bottle of oil, two packets of sugar, two packets of milk powder, but was worried because he wanted rice, and the outlet we are at hadn't been restocked yet. I happily offered to look (since there was nothing to do anyway).

When I got back from checking, I reported that there was organic brown rice for $5.50 (US$3.80) per kg! But his face fell, and he mumbled something about it being expensive.

Rice is a staple for many in Asia. (Photo by Pille-Riin Priske on Unsplash)

Rice is a staple for many in Asia. (Photo by Pille-Riin Priske on Unsplash)

Given his age (nearly 80!), and his being alone made me concerned for him. I told him to wait, and would check the shelves again.

I found a pack of 1kg basmati rice! That should tide him over to next restocking.

I ran back to uncle, and offered to belanja [treat] him! His face lit up, and he smiled super widely.

No matter where we are, helping and connecting to one another is more possible than we think! Stay strong Singapore.

Funny update: On the bus ride home, the husband told me that when I was hunting for rice to bring to uncle, the uncle had told him he had many kids and grandkids!

Lesson learnt: A person mumbling something is expensive doesn’t mean they can’t afford it. And don’t jump to conclusions in the first 10 seconds (I thought he was a senior living alone with no help). We must observe, ask questions and act when the facts are in. Especially helpful in this current situation. Excuse me while I go off and feel sheepishly embarrassed!

Photo by Liviu Florescu on Unsplash

We want to hear your stories of humankind.

Where did you see love today? How did you foster a connection? When were you on the receiving end of compassion?

To submit your own answers, click here. Or post on social media and tag #OurBetterWorld.

To read more heartfelt stories from our community, click here.