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Impact 0123: A heart for the homeless

Chooi Yin · 25 August 2021
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Chooi Yin, 24, is a student at the Singapore Institute of Technology, pursuing a course as an Allied Health Professional in Occupational Therapy. She has a passion for giving back to the community, especially in the areas of the disadvantaged, such as the homeless. She is constantly looking for innovative outlets to make a positive impact on society.

Can you share with us about what you do?

Prior to my university studies, I worked for two years as an early intervention teacher at the Rainbow Centre, which runs the Early Intervention Programme for Children and Infants (EIPIC). I have always had a heart for the less privileged community.

This is why I chose to work with the Rainbow Centre, and how I decided on my current course of study and voluntary work. I lend a helping hand whenever I can and however I can.

Last year, I joined a voluntary organisation, the Homeless Hearts of Singapore (HHOS). As volunteers, we go around Singapore befriending the homeless and supporting them in various ways, for example, by giving them care packs or chatting with them.

How did you start on this journey of blessing the homeless and how has it been?

Honestly, there was no “wow” moment. A friend told me about what Homeless Hearts does and I just made the choice to join them! But I’m thankful for that invite.

Through this journey, I’ve realised that the homeless need a lot of help. Many rough sleepers are elderly, and they are mostly physically weak and need caregiving rather than living on the streets alone.

Most do not speak English well and are not technologically savvy, which means that they do not realise there are avenues of help from the Government, or have no idea how to apply for certain schemes.

Were you previously aware of the homeless situation in Singapore?

Not really. Volunteering for HHOS has opened my eyes to the concerning issue of rough sleeping in Singapore. There are many rough sleepers in Singapore that most of us do not know of – they are often hidden or invisible to society.

There are countless reasons why an individual becomes a rough sleeper and it is always important to listen to their stories before rendering support. It would be wonderful to eradicate rough sleeping in Singapore due to the negative health impacts it has, which includes mental health.

What would you say has been the most challenging part of volunteering with Homeless Hearts?

It is hard when rough sleepers are skeptical of us volunteers and reluctant to receive help from us when we only want the best for them. Some rough sleepers also do not heed our advice on living peacefully with others in the shelter provided, which can result in conflict within the group.

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