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This newsletter highlights the work carried out by the non-profit philanthropic organisations funded by Temasek Trust, and the stories of their various beneficiaries.

4th Quarter 2013 Newsletter

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Keeping the Kampung Spirit Alive

Twice a month, members of the STEP Singapore Chapter shop for groceries. They do so for 3 socially disadvantaged families, adopted by the Singapore Chapter as part of Project Kampung Spirit, funded by STEP. Initiated by the youths themselves, Project Kampung Spirit aims to keep the spirit of community togetherness alive, by helping needy families on a long-term basis while managing their progress over a 3-year period.

Project Kampung Spirit started in August 2012 and sees a team of 2 volunteers attached to each family on a regular basis. Apart from purchasing and delivering groceries for these families, the youths also interact with the family members and mentor the children by guiding them in their studies. Besides building rapport, the youths hope that by supporting the children academically, it will underscore the importance of education and encourage the children to pursue academic excellence.

Surani Pereira, an undergraduate with the National University of Singapore, is one of the volunteers involved in Project Kampung Spirit. Together with her team mate, Azeem Mackeen, the pair visits the family of Mdm Yangpagi Binte Razali, or Mdm Yani, twice a month. Mdm Yani is a single parent who lives in a rental flat with her 7 children. When Surani first met Mdm Yani, she was struck by the mother’s personal journey. “It was heartbreaking to see her struggling to house, feed and keep her family together whilst trying to hold a job,” says Surani.

During their visits, the pair tutor 7 children and lend a listening ear to Mdm Yani. The children have benefitted from the tuition sessions and have gained more confidence in their studies. “The bonding, friendship, guidance and encouragement of the volunteers have made me realise the importance of education. With their help, I have become more motivated to study hard and try to get better grades,” says 11 year-old Abdul Fakeh Bin Abdullah, son of Mdm Yani.

While ensuring that the families constantly receive support has proven challenging given the volunteers’ other commitments, the dedication of the STEP Singapore Chapter has allowed the project to continue successfully, with other members of the Chapter stepping in to share the load. The youths plan to engage the families over the next few years and moving forward Project Kampung Spirit aims to increase the number of families recieving this kind of support.

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Higher Yielding Crops - Boosting Food Supply

Researchers from the Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory have made great advances in the study of plant reproduction, using Arabidopsis as a model plant.

A team led by Professor Yu Hao has identified the protein that acts as a regulator to control the migration of a key florigen protein, which provides a signal to the plant to switch its growing tip from making leaves, to making flowers.

“Since many developmental parameters, such as branching patterns, are critical traits that determine crop yield, our findings provide key information on the genes involved and regulatory modes of crops in the fields of agriculture, horticulture and plant breeding,” says Professor Yu.

Generally, the more flowers a plant produces, the higher the crop yield. Therefore, advances in this area address vital issues relevant to plant research, such as the supply of food, medicine and biofuel.

The team’s research has been published in the leading PLoS Biology and the Developmental Cell journals. Professor Yu was also recognised for his outstanding contributions in this area, and was awarded the prestigious 2013 President’s Science Award. . Going forward, Professor Yu’s team is applying their findings to several crops, such as rice and oil palm. They hope to help increase those plants' yields and as a result, boost food supply.

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Promoting Water Leadership in Asia

Since 2011, Asian water leaders have converged in Singapore to share best practices on water utilities governance and strategies to deal with existing and future water challenges. A collaboration between Temasek Foundation, the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore and the Public Utilities Board, the Temasek Foundation Water Leadership Programme aims to build capabilities of public water agencies in Asia to manage the fragile balance between environmental sustainability and industry development.

The two-week programme galvanizes knowledge exchange between professionals from government agencies, academia and water utility organisations in the region. Through panel discussions, case study presentations and site visits, participants are introduced to new and potential strategies in meeting the needs of the growing economy while ensuring that there will be sustainable water and sanitation facilities and services for future generations.

A total of 137 participants from 12 countries in Asia have been trained as part of the programme. Equipped with the information, it is anticipated that the participants will go on to share their knowledge, benefitting at least 700 more water industry experts.

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Classical Music Made Freely Available to the Youth and Wider Community

On August 21, 2013, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO), under the direction of Associate Conductor Joshua Tan, gave its debut concert at the newly opened ITE College Central's campus in Ang Mo Kio. "It was a pleasure hosting the SSO at ITE HQ & College Central. This is very much in line with ITE's "authentic learning" pedagogical approach,” said Dr Ang Kiam Wee, Principal of ITE College Central.

Two days later, performing in front of an audience of 500, the SSO also entertained Dunman High School students and faculty performing well known classical pieces by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Stravinsky.

The SSO Campus concerts, funded by Temasek Education Foundation, are open to the public free of charge, and are part of efforts to make classical music readily available to the youth and the wider community. “The SSO’s campus concerts in Dunman High School expose our students to quality art presentations. We hold such concerts on Friday evenings, so that they can enjoy popular classical pieces, as the weekend approaches "said Mr Kevin Gan, Vice-Principal of Dunman High School.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 24th September  - Inaugural Asian Community Mental Health Leadership Forum. [more]
  • 25th September -  TLL Scientist Receives President’s Science Award 2013. [more]
  • 21st August  - Temasek Foundation and Republic Polytechnic partner The Polytechnic Association of Indonesia to develop technical and vocational education expertise. [more]

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