“Thanks for coming today everyone. It’s great seeing some familiar faces and some new ones…” Paul Yeo began as he introduced the volunteers to the day’s event at the Chen Su Lan Methodist Children’s Home.
“So today we’ll be teaching the children baking and floral arrangement, we want them to create something beautiful with their own hands…”
He continued to brief the volunteers on the arrangements.
This was the 5th event that SuperFriends had conducted since it began and you could see the easy confidence with which the organisers directed the volunteers. These were not newbies at work.
I watched as he completed his briefing. I wondered if he was conscious of the toy chef’s hat on his head. A toy hat on the head of a muscular guy, it wasn’t something you’d see every day. Yet it did not feel out of place to those looking on. That question stayed with me the whole day.
When we were young we’d shun anything that’d make us look foolish only to realise as we grew up that the only foolish looking thing was our minds.
Sometimes we don’t grow up. For many of us, we enter the workforce, we focus on building our careers, we aim to thicken the size of our wallets, we desire to climb the greasy pole and we look forward to our next trip overseas. Admirable, fair ambitions. For many life is fuller on material, but it is emptier in meaning.
Paul asked that question too. Was this all there was to life? Eat, work and sleep with unhappy drama occasionally thrown in just to make it seem more interesting? SuperFriends was born out of giving meaning to life, “I [wanted to channel] my energy in helping others who [were] less fortunate than me.”
We broke into two groups, one group of volunteers guiding the children in floral arrangement,
And another group in baking.
These volunteers were all working adults, people whose work schedules made it impossible to volunteer regularly and who were deterred from volunteering. SuperFriends was set up for them, “there is definitely a way for us to reach out to society…”
They might not be able to commit for a long term with a charity, but that didn’t mean that they should forget about giving back.
But was not being able to commit long term an impossible challenge? Why couldn’t it be an probable opportunity? That was what Paul and SuperFriends did – turn a challenge into an opportunity. SuperFriends was a chance “even if it is just for that few hours, [to] make someone’s day a bit more bearable.”
It was an opportunity which a good number of busy working adults seemed to be looking for.
They didn’t just make someone’s day more bearable.
In a world long on activity and short of opportunity , time was the one treasure that mattered.
Just by sharing their most precious resource – time, they gave a bit of their lives. They showed those they came for that they were worth their time. Just because.
The volunteers radiated genuine happiness and the children smiled back.
I smiled too.
The children at Chen Su Lan Methodist Home come from a disadvantaged backgrounds, they live on the campus because they cannot go home, a state of affairs through no fault of their own.
They were not different from other children, there were quiet ones, loud ones, playful ones, obedient ones, brave ones, shy ones. They were just like we all were when we were young. And that day, they created something beautiful with their hands.
Hands of children whom life had beaten down and dealt an ugly deck but who deserve beauty as much as any other person.
This is the objective of SuperFriends, to bring a bit more love to the world, whether it’s the sick in hospital, the aged in old folks homes of the children in shelters.
I understood why the toy hat was so comfortable on Paul’s head.
Why should a toy hat be foolish, if is could bring a smile to someone’s day?