A day in the life of: A Community Advocate

This article is part of the CCA Previews for 2016.

By Community Advocates EXCO 16

 

Who We Are

CA is a close knit family of 28, comprising of students from all walks of secondary school CCA life – most of us were active in our service to the community, but have decided to take it one step further by bringing what we learn through service back to the school community.

We are a service CCA that seeks to develop our members past merely conducting direct service to speaking up and raising awareness on social causes whilst developing important leadership skills and learning invaluable life lessons.

Regardless of your past CCA experiences, we promise you that your journey with CA will take you beyond any  possible expectations you may have, for all of us can safely say that our experiences in CA are life changing. From first hand experiences with beneficiaries of numerous demographics, we learn so much about compassion, empathy and humility, among many other values in ways we have never seen before. We assure you that CA will really put many things into perspective and you will learn so much more about different groups of people in the community you may never have even encountered before.

 

How It Works

In CA, all of us choose a Special Interest Group (SIG), which becomes our little family of individuals passionate about similar causes. In our SIGs, we go for direct service with various volunteer welfare organisations (VWOs), in order to assist the people we are advocating for whilst learning more about them, contributing to better advocacy. We also often assist our chosen VWOs in their major events, bringing non-CA schoolmates along so they too can have a first-hand experience of the kind of service we do.

 

Our SIGs

Lifeline

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Lifeline focuses on advocacy for healthcare issues. In 2015, Lifeline has engaged both the school population and external beneficiaries like Muscular Dystrophy Association of Singapore. We also collaborated with Raffles Guidance Centre to organise Keep Calm Week and aided MDAS in their major events like Caregivers’ Appreciation Day, their annual camp and their 15th anniversary carnival. Weekly service at MDAS gives us a glimpse of the daily struggles that the disabled face because of their physiological condition. Lifeline not only seeks to serve to alleviate their struggles, we are also most inspired by our beneficiaries’ willpower to push on in face of adversity.

 

Doveswarm

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Doveswarm is a close knit family of 9 who are passionate about advocating for migrant workers. Migrant workers are both figuratively and literally sidelined from our Singapore society, and through our SIG activities, we have learnt so much about them, especially about their trials and tribulations. We work closely with the Migrant Worker’s Centre and Healthserve, two large migrant worker centric NGOs. Every week, we volunteer at Healthserve clinics, where we assist the staff in giving affordable ($5 flat fee) healthcare to migrant workers. Furthermore, we hope to complete several advocacy projects by the end of our journey in Doveswarm. These projects include offering drinks and notes of appreciation to migrant workers and a future migrant worker sports carnival. Ultimately, Doveswarm, and Community Advocates in general, is all about gaining new perspectives. Through this, compassion, empathy and humility, amongst other values, will come easily. Seeing migrant workers in a human light will definitely prompt you to question your version of reality in Singapore.
Empty Pocket

empty pocket

Empty Pocket discussions are casual yet productive. Each meeting progressively builds up to an eventual advocacy project that aims to alleviate the conditions that leave many in the clutches of poverty. Because our team consists of 10 people, there is much comfort and familiarity. Weekly service tuitioning children at a Resident’s Committee help us to learn, through direct interaction, the struggles that some underprivileged children face while we help them with furthering their academic knowledge. In 2015, we helped out at a camp and organised an origami-making session for these children. An Empty Pocket member sees the prevalence of poverty in everyday life and brings inspirations back to the table where we take another step towards fighting the widening income gap in Singapore.

 

What Now?

Within our SIGs or our batch, we then carry out advocacy projects to bring what we’ve learnt to the school community in order to elucidate causes that might not be so well-known, or to raise awareness of different perspectives and insights we have gleaned about these social issues.

 

Weekly Meetings

Community Advocates have weekly General Meetings on Wednesday from 2.30 to 4.30pm. During sessions, members can look forward to inspiring sharings by teachers, former members or external speakers. Members will also be engaged in discussions on projects that they want to do with the CCA. These projects can be of any scale and for any target audience – passion is the only qualifier.

 

Our Plans for 2016

This year, the Batch of 2016 will be bringing back Hair For Hope, No Shoes Day, and more advocacy projects. It’s really up to you and your batchmates to decide projects, platforms for service and steer CA in the direction you choose. Every CA batch chooses their own path.

Our CCA vision for 2016, “Every Rafflesian an Advocate”, is a reminder to ourselves of what we set out to achieve. If you’d like to spend a part of your JC life challenging yourself beyond typical service opportunities, planning events, projects and speaking up for those not often heard, CA could do just that for you. Bring out that voice inside you and join us in effecting positive change in our school community and society beyond.

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