GK Singapore helps restore dignity to the indigent elderly in Singapore

by Claire Pascua


GK Singapore has historically been a hub for partnership and volunteer mobilization in support of Gawad Kalinga (GK) community-building projects in the Philippines. So it comes as no surprise that when we embarked on our local outreach endeavors in Singapore, the first reaction we met was one of wonder (“Isn’t your focus only in building homes? Does poverty even exist in Singapore?”).


But everyone who is familiar with The GK Way knows that beyond the houses we build and the programmes we run, lies a deeper transformation that our mission can bring – that of restoring human dignity amongst those who have lost it.


GK perceives poverty as not about the lack of money, as much as it is about the loss of human dignity – the feeling of utter helplessness that comes from living in dire circumstances,diminished capabilities, and lack of access to aid. It is through this lens that we realised that although not apparent, there are households in Singapore that live in sub-standard conditions – the most common of which are the disabled and elderly who live alone, who face the difficulty of maintaining their homes by themselves.  


Last May 2013, in cooperation with The New Charis Mission of Singapore, we piloted a local outreach activity in which we helped fix up HDB rental blocks of the elderly in Chai Chee Road, Singapore.In true “bayanihan spirit” the pilot event was met with an enthusiastic response from Singapore-based volunteers who were eager to help.


Inspired by the response to last year’s activity, we decided not only to continue the outreach programme,but to triple our efforts in 2014. This year, GK Singapore aims to do 3 home clean-up and re-painting activities to help improve the living conditions of the indigent elderly who are on their own. At the same time, more outreach projects will allow the culture of caring & sharing to come alive for Singapore-based volunteers.


We kicked off our 2014 Singapore outreach on April 26th. Nearly 40 volunteers of GK Singapore and The New Charis Mission, students and professionals alike, gave up their entire Saturday to clean, re-paint, and refurbish the home units of 5 uncles/aunties. One of GK Singapore’s partners, Akzonobel Singapore, supported the activity by providing the paint, and showing true spirit of giving the best for the least, gave their premium product line Dulux Pure.

The volunteers worked relentlessly for six hours as everyone was determined to leave uncles and aunties with units looking as good as new. The work was so persistent that the task was completed earlier than planned – a feat acknowledged by Mr. Timothy Sim of the The New Charis Mission who said “this is the first time volunteers actually finished work before sun down and I get to go home early!”


But more than praise and pride from doing a job well done, the true fulfillment for the volunteers came from the grateful smiles and excited high fives that they received from uncles/aunties who, after patiently waiting outdoors for the whole day, came back to cleaner and fresher homes to live in.


This event was made possible with the support of The New Charis Mission and Dulux Paints



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