By Cherie Goh (20S06O), Chairperson, and Lily Wei (20S03C), Vice-Chairperson
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—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 12 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 for children from underprivileged families at Ananias Student Care Centre. Through these weekly sessions, Empty Pocket hopes to not only give these children one-to-one academic support, but also become 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—due to reasons such as work injuries or salary problems with employers—by giving them tokens that provide them with free meals. In their weekly service, Doveswarm members also have the opportunity to interact with the workers, be a listening ear to their problems, and advise them on any cases that they are dealing with.
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 Ms Dipa Swaminathan, founder of It’s Raining Raincoats and an advocate for migrant workers.
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 organise 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 2019, an event to celebrate the contributions of non-teaching staff working in school. Last year, our Y5s embarked on The Little Green Book, a batch project in which they created a booklet aiming to promote environmentally-friendly habits to secondary school students. In line with our batch project, we also put up a thrift store in school where all proceeds went to Zero Waste SG, an organisation dedicated to reduce waste in Singapore. We also organise various pop-up activities throughout the year, such as a donation drive to collect water bottles and spectacles that were donated to Westlite Dormitory which distributes basic needs to foreign workers, and LSC Eye Clinic’s Recycling Vision Campaign (a spectacle recycling programme to help needy children and adults) respectively.
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!