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School’s Out, Spreading Festive Cheer’s In!
13 March 2013

Did you start your Chinese New Year with a bang?

Well, some students from Hwa Chong Institute (HCI) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) sure did by spending a Saturday morning carrying out simple yet meaningful deeds for others.

And, they did so in the great company of their friends, too!

Since its inception in 2010, ‘Project Home Cheer’ is a volunteer initiative that has attracted over 600 volunteers and seen the participation of almost 300 beneficiaries from HCA Hospice Care.

Organised every year by HCA Hospice Care, volunteers are deployed for a day or two to spread cheer to beneficiaries and their families in their homes. Grouped in teams, volunteers turn up with goodie bags, a list of songs, a helping hand and a smile.

Participating beneficiaries who welcome visitors are often cheered by the presence of volunteers who, in turn, are inspired by the strength and warmth of the families they visit.

HCA Hospice Care would like to thank the students from HCI and NTU for their time and enthusiasm in helping to spread pre-Chinese New Year cheer to its beneficiaries, including their families, on Saturday, 2 February 2013.

It would also like to take this opportunity to thank HCI and Bloomberg for their generosity in sponsoring over 10 sets of ‘goodie’ bags that were distributed to selected families who participated in the above initiative.

Hear what some of the student volunteers had to say about their experience* and how it actually touched them in ways beyond their expectations.

Students, from left to right:
Heng Jian Shun, Cheong Sheng, Cheng Wei Hong and Samuel Tan, posing with Mdm Muthu Perianayagi and her caregiver.

By Cheong Sheng, Tong Xue Yin, Samuel Tan, Heng Jian Shun and Cheng Wei Hong (HCI):

“…[We] were assigned to two homes… However, on the day before our visit, the daughter of one of the patients called to inform us that the patient was not feeling well and kindly rejected our offer to help.

Such a drastic change in a short day made us realise that life is too short and not always sweet… so treasure and cherish what you have right now.

Today you might be a superstar or even a millionaire, but life is not always a bed of roses – it has its ups and downs, its twists and turns. Tomorrow, a stroke of misfortune might change everything.”

” It is also encouraging to see the connection between family members as most terminally ill people seem to be taken care of by their family. Indeed, no matter where we are, or what happens to us, our family will always be there to support and help us. ”

Students, from left to right:
Chen Xikai, Dawn Lum, John Lim and Ho Ching Yee, seen here in the home of Mdm Wan Rahmat B Abdullah (middle, front row) and her caregiver (third from left, back row).

Students, from left to right:
Xie Wei Cheng, Isaac Lim, Samantha Tan and Derek Neo, posing with Mr Lian Wing Cheong (middle) after a housekeeping session in the latter’s home.

One patient… was open about his imminent death. He even joked that Taiwanese dramas are often too long and he would die even before he could catch the final episode! He spoke to us about his outlook on life and his remaining days, albeit limited but he would live it out with a smile on his face. He spoke and sang with us with gusto and glee but I can sense… sadness within him… His positive outlook on life is remarkable, I truly salute him.

– Aaron Tang, Xie Wei Cheng, Isaac Lim, Derek Neo and Samantha Tan (HCI):

Students: Mark Chua, Jolene Tay, Jolene Chua, Rachel How, Robin Chia and Shaun Nair, with Mr Poh Beng Yiang and his partner, Ms Maria.

By Mark Chua, Jolene Tay, Jolene Chua, Shaun Nair, Rachel How and Robin Chia (NTU):

We rolled up our sleeves and got our hands dirty helping a wonderful couple inject some tender loving care into their home, just in time for the Chinese New Year season.

What started out as a simple ‘Project Home Cheer’ ended up being a ‘Project Home Makeover’, and although it may seem a daunting task for some, the six of us found it an experience to remember… we’ll let the pictures illustrate the smiles and cheer we brought to Mr Poh and his partner… [what we achieved as a team] truly gave their home a new lease of life as well as a sense of fulfilment among the six of us.

* Opinions expressed by volunteer contributors and commentators do not necessarily reflect the views of HCA Hospice Care.