I began my voluntary service with HCA thinking I had something to give to the community, but today I stand having received so much more.
Although it’s only been five months since I signed up with HCA Hospice (HCA) as a volunteer, I already feel like it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
My journey with HCA first began in 2014, when their Young Caregivers Programme (yCG) team came to my school, Victoria Junior College, to spread awareness about hospices and the elderly. My class was then tasked to organise an outing for the elderly patients to Marina Barrage. For most of us, it was the first time interacting with patients suffering from life-limiting illnesses and planning activities with their safety in mind proved challenging at times. However, it was this very day which left in me, the lingering hope that I could contribute to HCA once again sometime soon.
Around that time, my godfather was diagnosed with cancer. Watching him struggle through the next few years was incredibly difficult for the entire family. However, he took his condition on, as a challenge and faced it with admirable courage. He spent most of his time actively volunteering with organisations such as Lakeside Family Services and the National Neuroscience Institute. After he passed on last October, I felt a burning desire within to keep his flame burning bright. Seeing his dogged determination and genuine selflessness inspired me to play my role in serving the community.
Karan helps a Day Hospice patient up the van
I first started volunteering weekly at HCA’s Day Hospice where a plethora of activities are conducted for the patients, such as basic exercises, mahjong and karaoke. Along with serving them their meals, we also spend time interacting with the patients and getting to know them.
Helping out around the Day Hospice requires Karan to be attentive to the needs of the patients
One of my most heart-warming takeaways from my time at the Day Hospice is that it is the little things that really matter. Although these patients all have life-limiting illnesses, they still enjoy meeting everyone at the Day Hospice, they still dance and jive during karaoke sessions and they still maintain a formidable level of focus at the mahjong table.
My mentors from HCA’s Volunteer Management team, Andrew Ng and Amanda Chua, eventually encouraged me to sign up as a facilitator for yCG. Needless to say, I was incredibly excited, for this was the very programme that inspired me to start volunteering in the first place. From being a student in the classroom, inspired by the volunteer in front, I was now given the same platform to inspire other students in a similar way.
One of the many skills Karan acquired since volunteering with HCA includes operating the wheelchair lift
The first yCG session I conducted was truly special. In sharing my experience with my own grandparents and volunteering at the hospice, I saw the children’s excitement and eagerness to also make a difference.
Looking back at my time with HCA, I honestly find it difficult to describe how thankfuI I am to be in this position. Not only do I get to serve the community, but I also get to encourage others to do the same. On top of all that, I get to do all this alongside the wonderful team of staff and volunteers here. I have nothing but gratitude for everything I have experienced so far in HCA and I look forward to serving the community with them for many more years to come.
Follow Karan on his volunteer journey in the video here!