Youth volunteers learn value of kampung spirit on trip to Philippines
They go on first homestay trip organised by Red Cross Youth to the Philippines
They set out to conduct basic first-aid training for Filipino housewives and teach children about hygiene, but several Red Cross Youth Volunteer Instructors felt they received more than they gave.
Miss Wong Jalei told The New Paper: "They helped us more than we helped them."
The 19-year-old Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) student added: "I was touched when my host family borrowed a mattress from their neighbour for me and gave me the only bedroom to sleep in, while the family slept in the living room."
She was among nine youth volunteers, aged between 18 and 27, who travelled to Davao City in the Philippines for the Red Cross Overseas Humanitarian Programme (OHP) from Dec 15 to 23.
The youth-led overseas humanitarian project initiative was the first homestay trip organised by the Red Cross Youth.
Mr Ho Jing Yang, a second-year psychology student in NP, said: "We taught them hygiene tips such as washing their hands thoroughly before and after meals, because we noticed most of them didn't wash their hands before eating snacks."
Said Miss Farra Aslyn Mohd Rasid, 18, an Institute of Technical Education nursing graduate: "They taught us how to make tasty Filipino food like chicken adobo (chicken potato stew), tortang talong (eggplant omelette) and mungo guisado (chicken green bean soup)."
Language barrier aside, the volunteers felt that the unique homestay aspect of the trip allowed them to interact and bond more with the residents than they had been able to in previous overseas projects.
Along with necessities and first-aid kits, the volunteers also brought non-fiction children's books donated by the National Library Board that they used to teach the pre-schoolers English.
Mr Ho, 18, was inspired by the residents' outlook on life and their helpful and caring nature.
"One of them said we don't need to be blood-related to be family, because we are their chosen family," added Miss Farra.
Said Miss Wong: "The trip taught me to cherish the things and relationships we have, along with the kampung spirit."
The Youth Volunteer Instructors are trained to coach students in the Red Cross co-curricular activity (CCA) in Singapore schools in areas like Red Cross knowledge, first aid, disaster management, service learning, foot drills and skills to advocate for blood donation.
Said Mr Sahari Ani, senior director of training and development of Singapore Red Cross (SRC): "We started OHP to empower our youth to play a more active role in being a community responder.
"We hope they influence their fellow youth to appreciate sustainable projects and how youth have the potential to be key ambassadors in causes that SRC champions."