WHAT CAN CHILDREN IN URBAN
Singapore do about housing for the homeless? 25 per cent of the world’s population or 1.5 billion people live in sub-standard housing or with no shelter at all. This year, youths from Anglo-Chinese School (International) did their bit to raise funds and awareness for Habitat for Humanity (Habitat), a non-profit Christian organisation.
We launched “The Art of Battling Homelessness”, an art colouring competition, in March. Children from all over Singapore sent in their coloured versions of our template picture, and we selected some to exhibit.
At the art exhibition held at Wisma Atria on April 6, 2013, we further engaged children and members of the public. For $2, a small amount which can pay for 17 bricks in India to help put a roof over a child’s head, participants could choose to participate in one of three ways.
They could participate in the same colouring competition, or submit their own artwork on “Homes of Love”, or decorate a paper brick to build a “wall”, symbolising the united efforts of all to make the world a better place to live. With 2,104 bricks donated, we managed to get into the Singapore Book of Records for having built the “Longest Paper Brick Wall”!
Some of the coloured pictures were then sent as gifts of love to families supported by Habitat around the world. Selected artwork and coloured pieces won prizes as well.
Each person’s gift of $2 was a seed of love and hope, and in all, we raised over $8,000. This will go directly to Habitat to eliminate poverty housing worldwide by building simple, decent houses for needy families of all backgrounds, races and religions.
We also received good media coverage for the event, and we know that this will help spread the message of tackling poverty and homelessness.
Mr Tan Eng Kwang, Volunteer Relations Executive of Habitat Singapore, said: “For many of the students involved, ‘The Art of Battling Homelessness 2013’ is the first public-scale project that expanded the typical study environment in school into a larger arena involving the media and several external stakeholders. Eyes have been opened and good seeds have been sown. May God water these seeds and grant subsequent increases from glory to glory.
“The idea of using decorated paper bricks has also been identified and shared with Habitat colleagues in the Asia-Pacific region as a potentially effective way to raise awareness and funds. We certainly hope that this idea will also bear fruit beyond our shores.”
The youths organising the event were the Ambassadors from ACS (Int), one of three leadership groups in the school. We promote the missions of our school, one of which is to exercise Christian social responsibility to the community. We conceived this idea and then organised activities with the help of our teachers to raise the seed money. It was humbling for us to know that God has used our “two fish and five loaves” of an idea to impact others.
We were blessed with support from unexpected quarters. We also witnessed miracles in how circumstances came together for the event’s success. Ms Stacey Low, teacher-in-charge for this project at ACS (Int), shared how unprepared and helpless she felt when she realised the magnitude of the event required more resources than were available. Along with the Parent School Partners, she turned to the Lord in prayer.
“Immediately after the prayer, the Principal called me to say he had good news for me: The ACS Foundation had given us a grant specifically for this project. I couldn’t believe it because it was so unexpected, it was so much money and the news was given immediately after we had prayed for help and not before.”
We saw God’s favour in such things as getting the required licenses and fire safety approval in time, and, despite it being a heavy news day, received good media coverage too. Ms Low added: “Basically, it was a case of God meeting our needs even before we knew about them.”
Through this anti-poverty campaign, we learnt to have compassion for others in need. We learnt especially the importance of breaking the cycle of poverty by educating the younger generation. Despite their young ages, they can still step forward and make a difference in someone else’s life. As it is written, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12) After this event, I am personally convinced that there is nothing that can stand in our way when we work collectively, armed with a purpose and heart, for a cause that is much bigger than ourselves.
You may still make donations at www.give2habitat. org/member/ambassador/stop
Lee Qing Hui is a Year 6 Ambassador of Anglo-Chinese School (International).