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To B(rownie), or not to B(rownie) The Battle on Nanyang Hill and Its Aftermath
22 October 2015

By Andrew Ng Wai Keat

On 7th September 2015, early in the morning at Nanyang Primary School Main Hall, the National Alliance of Brownies (NAB) broke down all walls between the patients at HCA Day Hospice and them. With an arsenal of warm smiles, warmer hands and the warmest of hearts, these Brownies made our HCA patients their “prisoners-of-war” almost instantaneously.

“I feel happy and excited because I am going to do something good – to help the elderly,” says Clara Chee, aged 9, Nanyang Primary School.

Outnumbered three-to-one, the patients were summarily put through a series of ‘grueling’ challenges – swinging, hurling, rolling, pushing, fishing their way through five game stations for the amusement and entertainment of all involved (particularly the patients themselves who were rewarded with a smorgasbord of prizes for accomplishing their respective tasks and winning their individual races). In their moment of absolute triumph, the brownies were more than gracious in their treatment of their “prisoners” for the day, regaling us with performances of perennial favourites like “Eidelwis” and latest hits like “Flashlight” to keep the mood and morale ever so high as we moved from station to station!

As the games of the day wound down to a close, the veterans’ “war chariots” were hijacked once again, setting us up as audience members in front of the hall stage. The brownies ended the main event on the highest note possible as they recreated the magic of their epic campfire night onstage. Though the midday sun shone high in the sky, we had no shortage of stars as the brownies from different schools united to sing and dance their ways ever deeper into our hearts and souls.

The exertion and excitement of the morning had taken their toll on patients and students alike; stomachs were a-growling and faces were a-scowling. Both “armies” moved as one to the staging area of the canteen and lunch was served as we all knew that music alone was not enough to soothe the savage beast. As they all fed the hunger of their bodies, they also fed the hunger of their minds as they chittered and chattered, their conversations flitting like hummingbirds between the past, present and future.

Nothing quite like good times shared and a meal squared to build relationships and bonds between people – both grown-up and not so grown-up. As the vans moved into position next to the canteen, we knew it was time to say goodbye. With well-wishes and waving hands, and another smile just for the road, the brownies said farewell to us, no longer the strangers we were when we met on the “battlefield” early that morning, but rather friends bidding adieu, and thinking “perhaps someday, somewhere…”

“I feel proud seeing the primary school brownies contributing to the older generation. It was a good experience and I would not mind doing it again,” says Jennie Wong, 14, facilitator from Methodist Girls School.

And as for the question “To B(rownie), or not to B(rownie)?”, the answer is pretty obvious, isn’t it? In one collective voice, we say “YES! To Brownies!” We can’t wait to meet them once again, on another glorious morning just like this.

The Young Caregivers Programme addresses the increasing elderly population in Singapore by targeting the youth – raising their awareness of the elderly, inculcating values, and stressing the benefits of building relationships with them. To find out more about the Young Caregivers Programme (yCG), please visit https://www.hca.org.sg/hospice/services/ycg-activities.