Make it better
Together, We can Make it Better!

I am sure that this video would have put a smile on your face and brighten up your day!  But do you wonder why?

One of the little secrets to finding happiness in life is to do something nice for someone else.  I think in our busyness we sometimes become very inward looking and forget this very simple little fact.  Humans are social creatures who can empathize and feel for others.  When someone is crying, you will feel the sorrow.  When someone yawns, you too feel like yawning!  In the same way, when you watch the video and see people happy, you too will feel happy.
Take it a step further and do something to make someone happy and you too will share in the happiness!  But you can take it even further by doing something for a stranger who you know will never pay you back.   That I think, is a path to happiness that many of us have failed to exploit.

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I run every morning as part of my fitness routine and I would pass by a small dormitory which houses construction workers.  I usually run past them while they sit on the kerb waiting for their transport to arrive.  Most of them would be messaging on their smartphones, probably communicating with their loved ones back home. I see them hopping onto the back of a truck and going off to build our buildings.  I wondered what life was like in a dormitory and I thought that it would be nice to do a Singapore style BBQ in one of these dorms so that our foreign workers can experience some good old Singaporean hospitality.

I started emailing some friends and after a few months of planning we managed to throw a BBQ party for 400 foreign workers at a dormitory in Tuas.  This purpose built dormitory houses 8000 workers and comes with its own clubhouse with facilities such as gym, internet cafe and games room.  I have never been to such a dormitory before and it was a real eye opener.  I was told that there were even bigger ones that housed 16,000 workers!

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I was joined by around 80 Singaporean volunteers who were also interested in reaching out to the workers.  One of the volunteers I spoke to told me that he was there to support the event because he knows what it is like to be treated as a foreign worker having been a foreign worker himself in a Middle Eastern country.  He was there to express his solidarity with the workers!

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The whole event really changed my personal perception of the workers.   I spoke to many of them and found them to be really down to earth and friendly people!  One of them told me that they really loved living in Singapore because he felt safe here.  Back home, he was always fearful of being robbed of his money on the streets.  He also said that living and working in Singapore was a good way to earn money as there are less distractions.  Back home he would often go for drinks after work and get into trouble!

However, he does feel sad at times when he gets the stare from Singaporeans especially when he is on the train or buses.  He told me that he is very happy to know that there are Singaporeans who care enough to organize a party for them!

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My visit to the dormitory has really changed my perception of the Indian and Bangladeshi workers in our midst.  I think like most Singaporeans, I had a prejudiced perception of them especially after the Little India riots.  After our “Happy Go Round” event, I feel that I understand them a little more.  Actually they don’t ask more much.  They just want to feel appreciated.  Just a smile, a pat on the back, a handshake or even just a kind word or two will make a whole world of difference to these people who work so hard to build our country!

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I think I can speak on behalf of all our volunteers that they got back much more than they gave.  The joy of being able to reach out to segment of our society who have been misunderstood and ignored makes it something that is really worth doing!

So, is there someone or a segment of our society whom you feel you have always wanted to reach out to?  Don’t procrastinate!  Just do it!  Together, we can make it better. All it takes is the first step

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