Darcel Anastasia Al Anthony, 21, is a second-year student at the National University of Singapore. She is majoring in English Literature and minoring in French. In her free time, Darcel enjoys giving back to society. She has been volunteering on a regular basis with several organisations since 2015. Currently, Darcel produces videos and hosts storytelling sessions for children in her neighbourhood constituency. She is also involved with distributing meals to the lower-income group.
Darcel shares some valuable life lessons that she has learnt on her journey in doing community work.
Throughout my years of volunteering, I have been exposed to various living situations. Some people are not as fortunate and they may need all the help that they can get. When I look at how important little things are to people who truly need them, I empathise with them and try my best to make them happy. In our everyday life, such things may not matter as much as we take them for granted. Therefore, we should always be appreciative of the things we have and to always care for one another.
I have learnt to listen whenever I speak to residents, especially those from the lower-income group. I have realised that sometimes, I do not have much to say as I may not be able to understand their plight. However, I try my best to give them a listening ear as it helps to lighten their burden. I believe that when people listen to others more, they are able to empathise and care for them better.
Tolerance and understanding gives you patience. Sometimes, people tend to take their time to come back to you. At other times, people might arrive late for an event. We should always try our best not to judge but to understand the circumstances that people may be in. It pays to be kind and overall, a patient person.
In society, there are people who are in need of financial help. There are also people who are well-off and are willing to come forward and share their goodness with others. This is an eye-opener to see that there are good souls around us. We just have to find the correct platforms for them to come together to help make our community a better place for all.
Many Singaporeans would think that the younger generations do not have a sense of “kampung spirit”. However, that is not the case from what I’ve observed. In my volunteering activities and events, I have seen children from different family and residential backgrounds participating and connecting together. . By giving a platform such as hosting storytelling sessions, I can bring all these children together to create new friendships. This is important as we all live in the same constituency. We need to know each other. Sometimes, even neighbours do not know each other. Children have it in them to connect and interact, but they need a way to come together and make friends.
Although there is a saying that it is better to give than to receive, even receiving in little ways can make a big difference in our lives. I have learnt that through giving, I receive the profound blessings of joy. I love to make people happy by making a positive impact in their lives.
When COVID-19 first broke out in early 2020, I was on the ground helping to manually distribute hand sanitiser and surgical masks. I learnt that there were many big organisations that came together to contribute towards the society, such as the Temasek Foundation. And when most of us had to work from home, the People’s Association staff bravely came out to serve at community and residential centres.
If I stood alone to distribute hand sanitiser, it would take me quite some time. Likewise, it might take me hours or even the whole day to clean up the beach. I have learnt that it takes the effort of a whole group coming together for work to be done faster. The more united we are, the more efficient we will be. I am fortunate to work with others who are passionate about serving the community. I have learnt to be a good team player, a skill I use in other areas of life such as my schoolwork and freelance journalism.
During the early times of COVID-19 when we advised seniors not to go out as much, I was on the ground distributing food to the senior citizens at their homes. One packet of lunch can bring so much joy to people. A simple lunch box can put a smile on their faces. The little things that I do mean a lot to others and can even make their day.
Being on the grounds has taught me to motivate myself. The more I meet people and do voluntary work, the more I learn how to motivate myself to go further and reach my full potential. Just by seeing and listening, I have built the drive to work my hardest in serving the community. This is important as in life – I cannot always depend on others for encouragement. I have to be my own motivator. This is not easy, it is hard. But in the many times that I have failed, I have succeeded too.