#276 volunteering and charity

I seem to be confronted with young men and women representing non-profit organisations to give. These individuals are apparently being paid to do the job.

There are the flag days where students are required to give their time to ask for donations for these non-profit organisations.

What is volunteering today? Does being a volunteer means giving one’s time and energies to help the less fortunate or those in need by asking for donations from those around?

It appears the non-profit organisations are creating jobs for individuals who are paid to ask for donations. Are they creating a glorified begging system?

Gone are the days when volunteers gave out of goodwill — their time, money and energies.

Today, people are being paid to volunteer. A classic example is the charity shows where celebrities are paid for their services. So it appears celebrities are doing good works but the truth is they receive an income in addition to their already well-paid celebrity status. Are these celebrities making a mockery of their fans?

Now street vendors asking for donations are themselves paid to do the job of charity!

#264 possible quake predicted 2 years ago

No one expected an earthquake to break out in Haiti even though she was warned 2 years ago by scientists a quake was possible. No one believed this could happen as there was no quake for the last 200 years in its natural history. No one was prepared for this tumultuous magnitude.

The 7.1 magnitude Richter scale earthquake literally wiped away the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince — its infrastructures and all government buildings; presidential palace, justice palace and the churches and cathedrals and the 5-star hotels…many, many others. These buildings were supposed to withstand the quake but… Naturally the loss of human lives outweighs all — the nationals (an estimate of 150,000 or more dead in a city of 3-4 million people without mentioning those homeless and missing), foreigners and peacekeepers.

Haiti is the poorest nation in the West, if not in the world. This is the result of greed and corruption of governing leaders who thought of themselves rather than the people. Is this one ugly face of democracy?!

The aerial view of the island is made up of Dominican Republic and Haiti. On the Dominican Republic, it’s green but on the Haiti side, it’s brown, little vegetation. Were the people in Haiti so poor that they exhausted that they could find in order to survive? Interestingly, the quake whose epicenter struck close to the Haitian capital did not affect the Dominican Republic.

However the Haitians are resilient. One witnesses those surviving are grateful they are alive.

Children as young as a few years old were rescued from the rubble after several days without nourishment or liquid; a few elderly in 70s and 80s; and the one in his 20s after 11 days! One cannot underestimate the will and  inner strength of man…

Looting was evident in all places of tragedy when aid was slow in coming after several days fled by.

Though the promised aid was forthcoming but food and water was slow…so very, very, very slow in reaching the people in need…naturally a hungry man is an angry man.

How do you survive and keep sane and good when your loved ones are missing or dead? Dead bodies strewed everywhere. The stench in the air. People are in state of shock. Rubbles strewed all around. Buildings collapsed. No home to return to. Literally nothing!

My impression of Haiti was Haitians practised voodoo which is one black magic or dark forces which even seeped into the churches – the Catholic cathedral and the Episcopalian cathedral! Can this quake wipe out this voodoo practice?!

Can Haiti start from ground zero? I know the people have the ability but… Will the necessary aid and billions of funds raised get to the people there?  (I hope NOT those American contractors assigned to build Haiti though!) Are there good and able leaders who are willing to sacrifice themselves for nation-building?

On Russia Today Spotlight tv program, I heard an interview where this young Haitian student working on his postgraduate in Russia is very articulate in his understanding of his own country and insight into the devastation.

Those Haitians studying overseas will not be able to receive funds from home any more…

I pray for God to raise good, upright and able leaders who are willing to sacrifice for the new breed of Haitians.

#206 students in school uniforms

The school uniform a student wears serves as an identity.

Yesterday at a bus interchange, instead of queueing for the bus, a student in Nanyang Girls’ High uniform tried to cut queue. She thought by following an uncouth middle-aged man, no one bothered ticking her off.

This student obviously did not take pride in her school — neither pride in herself!

I have on occasions found students from the National JC or Hwa Chong JC loudly talking to one another or laughing away creating such din on a bus. They were not respecting themselves or other passengers already seated there!

Also, girl students from Raffles JC loitering on steps at Takashimaya. Once I tried suggesting to these students that if they had wanted to loiter, to do in more discreet fashion — either they changed into their home clothes or go to parks or sit around benches provided but not littered themselves on floor or on steps.

Yesteryears, we were proud of our school uniforms. Girl students would bring their home clothes to change after school if they had wanted to loiter.

Gone are the days when students from better or more elite schools cared if they bring shame upon the school or themselves. A sign of low self-esteem?!

Is social etiquette lacking? Where is the gracious society that we’re talking about?

Economically, we might be first class; social etiquette…? Or, is this freedom of expression?

#133 June school holidays

“How was your field trip to Beijing and Shanghai?” I asked my niece who is at primary 5 level at school.

She replied exasperatingly, “It was sightseeing.” 

I was flabbergasted. The school made her pay S$1500 for a 7-day trip to Beijing and Shanghai…making teachers and senior staff to tag along or be nanny during the long school break in June.

It was presumed this was a field trip in understanding how schools operate and perform in other parts of the world…and to give primary school level students exposure to Chinese language learning. They only spent 30 minutes in a school lesson. Naturally, one so young were not able to understand or grasp that the China teacher was saying.

I said, “If that was sightseeing, then you should be spending time with your parents and sister to go on tours! Surely not with your school friends and teachers during the long June holidays.”

What was the purpose of the ministry of education allowing the schools to bring students on the primary level giving parents the impression it was a field trip when that was for sightseeing?

What is the value to this 7-day trip to Beijing and Shanghai? If this was for sightseeing, surely parents would gladly tag along to take care their child — rather than having many teachers and senior staff spending their holidays with school students for such!

Besides $1500 spent on a trip with little value and purpose is extravagance…this sum could be a parent’s earning for a month!


Are you one of those who were taught in schools that we keep to our right when we walk up and down the stairs or along the corridors?

This way, should there be an emergency, students would keep to their respective side of the walking space. Then there will be no pandemonium!

Today, one finds every one walks in the direction as one wishes. Most times, the individual meanders from left to right or, right to left.

Walking or jogging on the left or right of the road depends whether the individual is listening to his own body instinct or the influence of the West — i.e. North Americans (walk on the left as they drive on the left) or British (on the right — right-hand drive).

Can Singapore discipline the young in schools to walk in one direction and on one side of the pavement?

Will Singaporean families be considerate to walk in 2 files, especially those family members who would sprawl themselves across the pavement even when these were able to see an on-coming human traffic?

The new Singaporeans have become an ugly society! They leave their things everywhere. They make use of air-conditioned places for their own conveniences.

Take for instance, many school girls will leave their bags in one corner of the library and chat away in another location. The library has become a place for socialising rather than for reading! These young do not respect the purpose of a place.

The library officers have little authority to discipline the public users — then why bother employing officers? Are these officers there for show or puppets? Or are they there for the public to make fun of their existence? Has Singapore become a place of irk? Has the officers no right — only the public? Sic?

Are the new Singaporeans becoming a really ugly society? Is Singapore becoming an ugly place to live in or even visit by the tourists?

Where is the graciousness? Where is courtesy?

#114 a 3-day national mourning

image from xinhua

Wenchuan earthquake claimed 40,000 to date… The air was filled with ammonia and lime powder to prevent epidemic resulting from the decayed under the inaccessible rubbles.

On 19th May at 2.28pm, China called for a national 3 minutes silence with sounds of air-raids, honks of cars and ships to observe those who died at the 8.0 richter scale earthquake in Sichuan; and a 3-day national mourning for the victims — all entertainment events canceled and the Torch Relay delayed and the television personnels to wear black.

The photos above showed kindergarten and school students taking the 3-min silence as many schools around Wenchuan and those closest to the epicenter of the quake collapsed or buried under the rubbles. Many students died — a new generation disappeared under the China’s one-child policy.