Sheerah Sanjana Pandian, 11, will forever remember the thrill of receiving the news that her artwork would be featured on the National Day Parade (NDP) Singapore Together Pack tote bags.
NDP fun packs have traditionally only been given to those who attend the annual parade and the rehearsals, but this year, because of the scaled-down parade and the COVID-19 epidemic, one fun pack has been made available for each of more than a million Singaporean and permanent resident households.
This year’s packs feature 10 designs on the bags by aspiring artists with disabilities from seven organisations, in collaboration with SG Enable, as well as 10 designs by Primary 5 pupils, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education. The packs contain items such as hand sanitiser, a thermometer, face masks, snacks and canned drinks.
Sheerah’s artwork was one of those selected from among 1,200 Primary 5 students who participated in the NDP Singapore Together Pack artwork competition. In her design, the image of a strong heart represents life and hope, while the people in it represent a diverse society comprising of our four main races and foreign workers, working together to overcome challenges.
Last year, Sheerah got to know two foreign workers who helped to paint her family’s house. She heard about the long hours they had to work, and how they were unable to go home for many months or even years in order to work to support their families. It made her realise how foreign workers have been our “hidden heroes”, playing a very important role in the progress of our country, and how their efforts and contributions have oftentimes gone unrecognised.
This year’s NDP has provided Sheerah with an opportunity for her to give recognition and show her appreciation to the forgotten members of our society through her winning tote bag design.
When asked how she thought others in Singapore could appreciate the foreign workers, Sheerah, a member of Tamil Methodist Church (Short Street), points to John 13:34–35 (NIV): “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
“A simple smile and thank you,” she says, “will go a long way.” To the foreign workers in the community, Sheerah says, “Thank you for being that silent unsung heroes in helping to build our nation. Sorry that we might have forgotten your contributions. But this National Day, I would like to dedicate my personal tribute to every one of you.”
By the MCS Communications Team / Photos courtesy of Sheerah Sanjana Pandian