By Chloe Charitey Pudjo (22S03G), Chairperson and Avanthika Sivakumar (22S03O), Vice-Chairperson
Think “Sandbox” from the Korean drama Start-Up (looking at you, Korean drama lovers!) but for service and advocacy projects instead of tech-startups, where you can interact with and advocate for a multitude of communities and causes that you believe in. Join us at Community Advocates (CA), and you may be able to do just that! Here in CA, we recognise that given our position of privilege, the onus lies on us to serve and advocate for communities that remain hidden from sight and relegated to the backseat as we attempt to cope with our own hectic daily lives.
The two key tenets of CA are Service and Advocacy. Through service, we hope to forge lasting relationships and engage in meaningful interactions with the people we serve. Through advocacy, we aim to give our beneficiaries a voice and empower the school community to take a stand on the causes and issues they deem worthy.
Student Interest Groups
CA comprises three different student interest groups (SIGs), each championing a social cause. In our SIGs, we form close-knit communities with like-minded peers, working together to tackle relevant social issues. Our SIGs are named endearingly – Lifeline (healthcare), Doveswarm (migrant workers), and Empty Pocket (poverty).
While the causes each SIG advocates for remain constant, the organisations we partner with and the direction taken each year are independently determined, giving us the freedom to embark on various unique projects. Here is the general focus of each SIG in 2021:
- Lifeline focused on healthcare-related service, where we aim to fight the stigma faced by individuals with mental or physical illness
- Doveswarm focused on understanding migrant workers better, and building a bridge between them and our Raffles community
- Empty Pocket focused on aiding children from lower-income families and individuals living in poverty whose needs have been under-represented
Our weekly CCA sessions are currently online, and take place on Wednesdays from 9 to 11am. Subject to the prevailing Covid-19 restrictions, we also have weekly regular volunteering sessions.
A typical CCA session proceeds as follows: We first start off with mass bonding as a CCA, after which we hold General Meetings, where members provide updates on the progress of ongoing projects. We then split into smaller groups to discuss and work on our respective batch, SIG, and pop-up projects (to be explained below!).
Returning to the idea of being a sandbox for service and advocacy projects, CA is an open platform where almost any idea for reaching out to communities and students alike has the potential to be actualised.
The projects we embark on are in no way limited to the SIGs we join, for we also plan and execute yearly large-scale Batch projects that involve the whole batch, and pop-up projects where any number of CA members can carry out short-term initiatives in small groups.
Some examples include the National Day mask donation drive organised by Doveswarm, where over 300 reusable masks were collected in an effort to highlight the struggles migrant workers face while living under heightened pandemic restrictions.
Empty Pocket piloted a reading programme aiming to help children gain confidence in their reading abilities before starting primary school, while Lifeline organised an online forum to shed light on the challenges the deaf community faces and the reality they live in.
Our batch project in 2021, entitled The Consumer Class, focused on the deleterious impact of consumerism in 4 main areas: fast fashion, plastic waste, food waste, and e-waste. Ensuring that our messages engaged the school population entailed us utilising innovative methods to publicise our projects, such as through cooking videos repurposing food scraps (under food waste) and vlogs introducing thrift stores (under fast fashion).
Who we’re looking for
If you’re someone who has a big heart for the community, loves to come up with innovative ideas, and works well in a team, you’re a perfect fit for our CCA! Most of our projects are team-based, so we’re looking for team players who are ready to take the lead as well. Fret not if you do not have extensive volunteering experience, for we’re here to equip you with the necessary skills and guidance to serve effectively.
With Singapore still in the thick of a pandemic, you may be wondering how CA’s activities have been impacted. While Covid-19 has erected a physical barrier between us and those in need, the fun and challenge of being in CA lies in being able to take these restrictions in stride and devising novel ways to engage the community and advocate for our cause. All it takes is an open mind and the determination to enact change, and the world will be your oyster here at CA!
*Cover image taken during the prior phase of Covid-19 measures.