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Student voice 5 Oct 2022

One Kindness a Day

By Shriya P
Photograph by Shriya P

“Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud” said Maya Angelou, American memoirist and civil rights activist. This simple quote conveys a beautiful message to find those who suffer and lend a helping hand.

I was exposed to the act of giving from a young age. Over the years, I would collect the money otherwise spent on birthday festivities and donate it to different NGOs. I ran a campaign during my adolescence which raised enough money to donate a computer to an orphanage in rural India.

At first, these endeavours were initiated by my parents. However, seeing the kindling hope in the smiles of the children I helped compelled me to empathise with the reality of what the underprivileged face, and the abundance of opportunities I had in front of me to help. This reaffirmed my desire to do my part to help better the world as best I could, one small step at a time.

A month ago I said goodbye to Jakarta where I’d lived for many years. Entering my final year of the IB Diploma Programme in a new country and school left me feeling very anxious. Although, I quickly realised that it wasn’t so bad after all and acclimatised to life in Singapore. I dearly missed the dogs I cared for at an animal shelter in Jakarta, and continued to wonder about the ill, underprivileged children I’d donated to during the pandemic. So I began my search for new opportunities to help. A friend mentioned volunteering with a small NGO one weekend. Without hesitation I asked if I could join her.

One Kindness a Day is the small group of volunteers I am part of. We visit impoverished areas in Singapore, donating food and daily essentials to the elderly.

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On my first day volunteering, we went up to the first floor of a Bukit Merah complex and knocked on the doors along the corridor, hoping for an answer. As I began to turn back, a rundown red door slowly creaked open. A sweet old lady popped her head out, giving me a toothy smile and a gentle nod.

We couldn’t understand each other so I used my fingers to communicate. She giggled at my attempt. I handed over 4 rolls of bread along with some dental care products and before she closed the door she gave my hand a little squeeze as a “thank you” communicated without words. The smiles on the faces of the residents made every minute of the hot summer heat worth it.

I have been part of the volunteer team ever since then. We travel to different locations around Singapore every Saturday in the hopes of making a difference. From these experiences volunteering, I hope to pass on a few words to anyone who will listen: kindness isn’t about magnitude. It's about the intention behind your act. The impact you create, no matter how small, will not be forgotten by those you’ve helped.

Living a life with a heart of kindness is a life well lived. I hope we can all live it some day.

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