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.