Tuesday, January 3, 2012

NYP-in Action: Caring for Senior Citizens

By Cheang Hoi Yee, First Year, Diploma in Digital & Precision Engineering
As the saying goes, the older the fiddler, the sweeter the tune. On 19 November 2011, SEG Care and I Share Club put together “NYP in Action for the Community” - an annual community service project and party for senior citizens - together with Lions Befrienders. This event allows students contribute to the community, bring happiness to our senior citizens in Singapore, and show appreciation for their contributions. Around 200 senior citizens from Senior Activity Centres (SAC) such as AMK and Bendemeer SACs, and Lions Mei Ling Street Neighbourhood Link gathered at the South Canteen on that special day. 
Senior citizens are our treasures. Since there are 200 ‘treasures’, I couldn’t wait to see and cherish them. I reached the venue early in the morning at 7.30am for a briefing of our role as assistants to the senior citizens. Two of my friends and I were assigned to a group of ten seniors from Bendemeer SAC. We got busy serving them tea and coffee while they were having light snacks. We were like worker bees, dashing around the canteen. NYP staff also chatted and entertained them in the meanwhile.
When I first started to chat with them, I was shocked when all of them clapped their hands. I felt like a politician about to give a speech. I realized how cute the old folks are. During the chat, I also found out that some of them spoke Cantonese and one of them was from the same hometown as me: Ipoh, Malaysia. That made me feel a little closer to home.
The games began. For the first game, the senior citizens were required to guess what kind of food we were drawing on paper, and the first group to get six correct wins. The food we drew included familiar food such as ‘roti prata’, ‘kaya’ toast, ‘teh tarik’ and strawberry cheese cake. The senior citizens racked their brains to decipher our drawings.
After this, we started our second game - song guessing. The senior citizens had to guess the name of ten songs as fast as possible. These included Chinese, Hokkien, English and Malay songs, which were played over speakers. To our surprise, the organizer played Michael Jackson’s Thriller. An auntie in our group was very enthusiastic in this game. In addition, she was a song guessing genius. She could guess the name of almost every song in less than 10 seconds. She even knew the name of an Indonesian song called ‘Bengawan Solo’. All of us were floored in admiration. Thanks to her, our group won this game session and everyone got a 10-dollar NTUC voucher.

Our last game required us to collect as many similar coloured balloons by exchanging balloons with other groups. Soon, the canteen was flooded with a sea of colourful balloons. Our group chose to collect purple balloons; at the end of the game, all of my group members were holding their purple balloons with contented smiles.

Lunch time was also a karaoke time for our guests. The auntie who was very enthusiastic during song guessing sang a lovely song with a volunteer. After that, we started to create graffiti on the balloons. We drew smiley faces on the balloons and distributed them to our guests. Suddenly, my friend had a brilliant idea. She wrote down her blessings on a balloon in Chinese for an uncle who was chatting with us. However, the uncle stopped her. He explained that the order of her strokes were wrong, and then he showed us the correct order. In addition, he also showed us the correct way to hold a calligraphy brush. We looked at him in awe and called him our ‘master of calligraphy’.
Later, I came across something surprising when I guided my guest to the wash room. It was a notice board in Block R with photos of NYP-In-Action in year 2005. There was even a photo of two senior citizens from my group. We were very excited and brought them to see those photos without hesitation. Both of them were surprised and started to tell us what they did in 2005 with much happiness.

Finally, the ‘goodbye moment’ came. Before leaving, one of the senior citizens invited us to Kallang Town Council to listen to their drum performance. Their group has even performed in the Esplanade before. They are really a group of active people. All of us volunteers hoped to see them again for NYP In Action For the Community next year!

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