30 November 2006

Run For Funds 2006 - What It Means To Pam

 Pam has been a long time friend of both Adrian and I since our Uni days. After graduation, Pam moved to Japan and then to the UK but we have all along, thanks to modern technology, been keeping in touch with each other.

Granted that Pam is thousands of miles away, she remained a steadfast supporter of the RunForFunds project both on account of our long standing friendships as well as the fact that we all share a common vision towards what this project is all about.

Like me, who is based far away from home, it may be our regret that we weren't able to participate directly in this project, we nonetheless are just as active as we find alternative ways to help out.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you. Dr Pam.

Dr Pam says....

Wow, I got an IM from my very good friend JayWalk out of the blue (ok, I exaggerate, but I’ve not heard from him for a few days now, and that is a long time!), and after a couple of minutes of catching up, he asked if I’d contribute a guest blog about RunForFunds. I thought for a second and decided that I would do it (after all, I’m in the company of an esteemed crowd!).

I am a big supporter of all things charitable. When I lived in Singapore, I used to drop money into the cans on Saturdays; when I was at university, I was part of Rag and Flag and did bits for charity. I gave free tuition to the ‘less-fortunate’ (as they were labelled) as part of a charity foundation. When I lived in Tokyo, we collected money for the ST Pocket Money Fund during one of the Christmas dinners organised by the Singapore Association. 

Since coming to the UK, I volunteer weekly at the local Cancer Research charity shop, where people shop there for good second-hand clothing and some brand new stuff too (like greeting cards, toys, china etc) and money goes towards cancer research labs, cancer awareness etc. My job as a volunteer is varied – I may man the cash register some days, I might sort through old clothing another day, and I really enjoy it. This job is so different from my regular job! There’s a sense of achievement which sometimes you don’t often see in regular work (well, I don’t anyway!). Our oldest volunteer is 78 years old, and she’s been doing this for at least 10 years. 

But…back to the point of RunForFunds and why it’s so small, yet so special; so informal, yet so necessary. I don’t know much about the charities in Singapore, but I do feel that there are plenty of charitable cases out there that for whichever reason do not ‘qualify’ for charity. When I first came to the UK, I was proud of the fact that Singapore was not a welfare state (I still am to a certain extent). However, I soon realised that when the welfare state system is not being abused and taken advantage of by crooks and ne’er-do-goods, it is actually a very sound system. It supports the genuine hardship cases – such as people who have lost their jobs through no fault of theirs and need to support their families; older folk who have contributed to the pension schemes all through their lives and need support now, children whose families can’t take care of them, and so on. There are many small charities out here which run with the help and generosity of volunteers, and without whom they would not be able to exist. Recently, the BBC ran a ‘Children In Need’ fundraising event ( where celebrities and ordinary people across the UK held events to raise money for children in need. There were people who shaved their tresses (women included), men who had their legs waxed (ouch!), children who held bake sales in school, schools holding public concerts, schools having a ‘pyjama day’ where everyone (incl. the headmaster!) comes to school in their PJs, to raise money for children in need. Their beneficiaries were numerous – there was one that was catered to children with incurable diseases, where the money is used to help to give respite to the families once a month so that the families can be ‘normal’. 

If one is to look at Singapore’s economic system, it appears that most people are fairly well-off, or at least able to survive. From what I’ve been told and from what I know, there is still a section of society in Singapore which aren’t being looked at (for whatever reason). I think it’s time to put our cynicism aside and ask, even if the Government or powers that be don’t appear to be listening, what can you and I do to help? It could be a few hours a week at an old-people’s home, it could be helping out at the local school with your skills and knowledge, it could be buying an older/destitute person a meal at the hawker centre. 

 And I think that’s what RunForFunds is trying to do, it’s about trying to make a difference where the difference means a lot. 

I don’t necessarily count myself as a Superfriend – by virtue of the fact that I don’t live in Singapore now and any support I can give is remote, or cash, when I see Adrian, but I do support it wholeheartedly, and it is really the case of ‘every little helps’. 

Thank you for reading thus far, and I hope that you will be inspired by the good that Adrian and his Superfriends are doing and start to do your little bit to help others gain a lot. 

One book I would strongly recommend anyone to read is The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell, where he talks about how people can start their own ‘positive epidemics’, where you can create a change with limited resources. 

Read it, and be inspired.
Dr Pam 

- Voxeros

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