Last week, I went to Bukit Batok Home of the Aged as part of the military’s “Community Service Involvement Project” for soon to be operationally-ready National Service soldiers. I went there with an open mind as the main purpose was to do our part to give back to society. Many of my friends did not know what to expect as we were given tasks in groups to be done in a specific time-frame of two to three hours.
In groups of three, the supervisor of the home dispatched us in waves with the assignment being written on a piece of paper. We were told to wear masks, gloves and to draw the necessary equipment from the cleaning store. I went with two of my friends from the same bunk and we were assigned to clean an all-male dormitory.
The nursing home staff told us that the elderly of this dormitory had trouble controlling their bowels and were not of sound mind. Taking this into consideration, we were instructed to clean the place thoroughly, including the walls.
Though we were not dressed appropriately as all of us were in t-shirt and jeans, we still gave our best effort to clean the place for the elderly. First, we cleaned the side windows, bed-frames, bed partitions, side bed trolleys and lastly we had to sweep and mop the floor. The area was also very dirty with dirt, dust and crumbs of food under the bed. Looking at the conditions, we put in our 100% effort to help clean the place as we wanted to give the elderly a cleaner and nicer environment to live in.
It is sad to see that the elderly had no one to care for them, except the nursing home staff, and they have few visitors. The supervisor also shared with us that it is not the family members who visit some of the elderly, but their close friends who visit them. She told us to treasure our family and friends as they are important in our lives.
It was a meaningful experience as we got to see the “before” and “after” transformation of the dormitory through our hard work of cleaning. Other groups were assigned to clean the common toilets, paint an incomplete mural near the home’s medical center for the elderly to look at while waiting their turn, and also gardening to spruce up the mini- garden outside their sleeping area.
The elderly in Singapore need our help in terms of cleaning and also spending time with them as they have few visitors and a lack of manpower at nursing homes. Their only entertainment is a common television at the hall and groups who come in to spend time with them. Some of the elderly do not have a family to take care of them and they are grateful whenever people come in to help. Though they may not always express their feelings, it is the service of care and love that we give which is important.
I feel that this project is a good way to contribute back to society and to know that there are people who need our help and company. This group of people can be the elderly, the sick and the underprivileged. Two other groups also went to another nursing home and a welfare home for children. They also helped clean the area and even played captain’s ball with them.
Hopefully, more groups and organisations come forward to lend a little of their time to help these groups of people who might not lead a comfortable life. We can help lift their spirits and bring some hope that they are not forgotten by society.
Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong