By Ong Yi Xin (23S06I, Chairperson), Kayli Kwee (23S03H, Vice Chairperson), Chia Olivia (23S07B, Exco Member), Eunice Khong Zhixin (23S03M, Exco Member), Alexandra Tan Ray Shan (23A01B, Exco Member)
When you think of the phrase “community advocates”, you might think of globally esteemed philanthropists including Bill Clinton and Warren Buffett, youth activists such as Greta Thunberg, or even celebrity advocates like Angelina Jolie. However, ordinary people can lead volunteering efforts too. The word community implies that within every community, there are opportunities for advocacy to represent the voices of hidden communities.
In Community Advocates, we aim to spotlight the stories of the people we serve and empower them by engaging in meaningful interactions and providing tangible help. In doing so, we embody the essence of Community Advocates: Speak, Act, Change, immortalising the principles of service and advocacy.
Our F2F CCA sessions are held every Wednesday from 9am to 11am. Besides CCA sessions, students are involved in mandatory weekly service.
A typical CCA session proceeds as follows: bonding → group sharings → SIG, and pop-up projects (to be explained below!)
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. Here is the general focus of each SIG in 2022:
Lifeline’s focus of 2022 was children/youths with autism, a uniquely diverse group often subject to misunderstanding in the public eye. Even as our society embraces inclusivity, accommodation for young members of the autistic community and their caregivers leaves much to be desired. Upon learning about the challenges faced by our group of focus, we embarked on a journey to dispel social stigmas and champion increased public awareness. To gain on-the-ground understanding, we volunteered with Pathlight School (Lifeline’s weekly service), organising interactive activities that enriched both the children and ourselves. Through interviewing individuals with expertise, such as Mr Bernard Chew, the CEO of St Andrew’s Autism Centre, we sought to advocate for our focus group with sensitivity, tailoring our advocacy to be true to their experiences.
Doveswarm’s focus of 2022 was migrant workers. While moving to Singapore in search of a better future, our migrant workers face many challenges, from disputes with employers to unsafe working conditions. Yet many of these struggles are overlooked, prompting us to focus on bridging the gap between our migrant workers and the rest of society. We engaged with the workers at SG Accident Help Centre through conversation sessions (Doveswarm’s weekly service), collecting their rich stories to share with our Raffles community. More specifically, our advocacy project was aimed at appreciating the efforts of our school custodians and fostering stronger bonds between the student population and our school custodians. In February 2023, we will be organising Doveswarm Olympics, where students partnered with custodians will participate in game stations such as shooting hoops and badminton.
SIG: Empty Pocket
Empty Pocket’s focus of 2022 was on financially disadvantaged children. Besides worries about basic necessities, these children’s financial backgrounds usually lead to other difficulties such as the lack of a conducive learning environment at home or access to educational resources. As such, we decided to try and make a difference in these children’s lives by volunteering with Touch Young Arrows and Heartware Network to tutor primary school students (Empty Pocket’s weekly service). We also chose to align our advocacy project with this cause – through engaging activities and interviews with our peers, we seek to raise awareness about the challenges faced by these children.
This year, we hosted our batchmates on a learning journey to Bishan-Ang Mo Kio park in hopes of cultivating their understanding and appreciation of local biodiversity. Spearheaded by our batch project ICs , we organised environment-themed games, from Bingo to memory card games. Throughout the planning stages, we have also learnt more about local flora like the Singapore rhododendron and the curry plant.
Who we’re looking for…
Anyone who has the heart to serve is welcome in CA! If you seek to participate actively in advocacy or explore creative ideas that would benefit society, you’re perfect for our CCA! Most of our projects are team-based, so we’re looking for team players who are also prepared to take the lead. 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.
Join us on our journey as we go beyond the call of volunteering and embark on our advocacy projects!
For more information and updates about CA, visit our Instagram page @rafflescommad, and our blog, https://speakactchange.wordpress.com/.