Last Sunday morning, Truett, Kirsten and I had the chance to take part in something really special. We were up bright and early to help out in Project Refresh, an initiative organised by Young NTUC (YNTUC) and North East Community Development Council (CDC) to refresh the homes of low-income seniors who are living alone in Tampines.
Since 2017, YNTUC has joined hands with North East CDC to run five Project Refresh in the North East District, making last weekend’s edition the sixth, and the largest in terms of scale, by far. Over 1,000 volunteers from unions, schools, corporate organisations, grassroots and Tampines residents came together to conduct refurbishment works in 96 household units in Tampines. These included cleaning, decluttering, painting and furniture replacement.
Many of the volunteers were students and it was really cool to see so many teenagers spending their Sunday helping to scrub dirt from the houses of these elderly. They were all cheerful and enthusiastic while really going at the stubborn grime in the kitchen, it was actually very inspiring to watch.
The big kids had previously helped out with a similar home cleaning project so they had some idea of what to expect. We have also been watching a lot of Marie Kondo (Kirsten loves it!) so we were all ready to help spark some serious joy. The kids got right down to the simpler tasks like wiping the stove and fridge and windows.
In addition to the cleaning, we were able to chat with some of these seniors who are living alone. One of the elderly ladies seemed happy to talk to the kids, asking them about their school and hobbies. She was like “Wah very good, you all can help to clean. Go home you must help your mommy and daddy clean up also” and they were like “Um, orh okay…” and I got to be all “YEAHHH I’m totally down for this!! Please continue this lovely conversation.”
This spring cleaning was perfect timing with Lunar New Year right around the corner. Some of the volunteers from the PAP Community Foundation (PCF) and Tampines grassroots also contributed their time towards preparing hand-made Lunar New Year decorations and greeting cards to decorate 59 Chinese households. There were booths for calligraphy and origami and everyone was hard at work.
We were glad to be able to be a part of this amazing initiative. Spending a day to help someone clean up their home may not seem like a lot but if it can bring a smile to someone who’s living alone and in need of assistance, then it’s a small step that makes a difference. Also, it’s a beautiful display of the kampung spirit, and how we can connect and understand each other better.