By Wong Jia Ying (19S06F), Administrator and Blake Hu (19S03D), Publicity Head
An Introduction to Advocacy
In the midst of our hectic day to day life, it is all too easy to overlook a glaringly obvious fact – that society has not dealt everyone the same fortunate hand that we have been dealt. Here in Community Advocates (CA), we refuse to ignore these injustices. We choose to take a stand, and we strive to drive a change. This is the essence of CA.
Advocacy doesn’t mean that we have to be loud, haughty or eloquent. On the contrary, if you have an open mind, a listening ear and a big heart, you are more than ready to become an advocate. Certainly, it isn’t easy to start reaching out to others and to have your voice heard. But keeping these three tenets in mind, our members have astounded us by quickly growing into more experienced advocates and empathetic people.
Our advocates’ journey of growth can be seen in our CCA’s progress. With just 11 years of history, CA is a relatively new service-based CCA that encourages students to go beyond direct community service and make a deeper impact in their community. Even in this short span of time, we have emerged with a unique identity founded on the close relationships within our ‘second family’!
Student Interest Groups
Within this family, we are gathered into three student interest groups (SIGs), each championing a different cause. They are named endearingly – Lifeline (Healthcare), Empty Pocket (Poverty) and Doveswarm (Migrant Workers). Within these SIGs, each member has the opportunity to unite with other like-minded individuals to tackle social issues that they are passionate about. Lifeline SIG advocates for physical and mental health issues in society, Empty Pocket SIG is committed to combating poverty in its various forms, and Doveswarm SIG aims to promote mutual understanding and acceptance between migrant workers and local residents.
Year to year, while the causes we serve never change, the organizations we work with may. This is because each batch has the freedom to set its own direction. Each SIG partners with a local Social Service Organization related to their respective causes and members volunteer for regular direct service.
This year, Lifeline is focusing on palliative care and has partnered with Assisi Hospice for regular service sessions. Members help nurses with basic care-taking responsibilities like feeding, oral care and sponging patients. At the same time, members also interact with patients and keep them company during the final stage of their life.
Empty Pocket conducts weekly tutoring sessions at a student care centre run by Faithacts, a non-profit community service agency. The SIG’s focus this year is on giving underprivileged children one-to-one academic support, as well as to be friends and role models to them as they progress through primary school.
Doveswarm is working with Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) in The Cuff Road Project, helping migrant workers who are currently unable to work by giving them tokens that provide them with free meals. In addition, Doveswarm members also interact with the workers and provide a listening ear to their problems.
Aside from weekly service, each CA member attends General Meetings every Wednesday from 2.30 – 4.30 pm. During such sessions, we discuss and plan upcoming advocacy projects, and from time to time we also invite speakers pioneering various social causes, such as the founder of My NoNNas, a stall which employs people with special needs.
In CA, every member has the opportunity to engage in different advocacy projects. Each SIG runs at least one advocacy project during their time in CA, and the batch comes together to organize a batch project every year. Examples of what we’ve done in the past include Hair for Hope in 2014, which aimed to raise awareness about cancer patients, and Homeground in 2017, an event to celebrate the contributions of non-teaching staff working in school. Last year, our Y5s embarked on Echo For Eco, a batch project centred around the theme of sustainable living that sought to shed light on various environmental issues.
As each batch is not tied down by previous years’ commitments or events, we enjoy a rare degree of autonomy which allows us to chart our own path in our advocacy journey. This is a valuable opportunity for you and your batch to truly follow your passions and advocate for a cause that you believe in. You hold the power to choose the sort of difference you wish to make!
To End Off
It sounds like an insane idea to claim that we want to change the world. But we like to think that the ones crazy enough to change the world are often the ones who do, even if it’s only in a small way. From interacting with patients to serving a meal to migrant workers, each of these small acts add up to become something bigger. Should you join us on this journey, the change you make, the lessons you learn and the people you meet will make it all worthwhile. If you think you’ve got what it takes, CA welcomes you with open arms!
To find out more about CA, do visit our website speakactchange.wordpress.com or our Instagram @rafflescommad!