The morning of 10 June saw the NUS Silat team stray from their usual training grounds at the University's sports halls and converge on the neighbourhood of Boon Lay. As they split into two teams, their mission was simple � make over the homes of the less privileged, as part of the Ramadhan on Wheels programme. Run by 4PM, the Malay Youth Literary Association, the programme aims to provide underprivileged families with as much help as they need � from monthly grocery vouchers to training in entrepreneurial skills, as well as home improvement programmes.

'Ramadhan on Wheels' is a great platform for us to give back to the community. In line with Ramadhan's spirit of giving, it is a good opportunity for us, student-athletes, to provide in a different way. Instead of financial help, we volunteered our time and effort to those who could use a helping hand, said Siti Iryana Binte Mohamad, Year 2 NUS Arts and Social Sciences student, one of the participants.

While community work is not new to the sports team, previous projects usually took the form of short Silat performances or coaching sessions, shared Alif Sutrisno, Year 2 NUS Arts and Social Sciences student, another of the participants. This time, however, we aimed to effect real change, and to do something for the community that would have long-term benefits, he said.

The students were quick to admit that it was definitely a strenuous undertaking � the makeover involved shifting furniture, scrubbing floors, washing toilets and painting walls, made even more demanding as they were all fasting. However, the presence of their fellow teammates lent strength to their tired limbs and as the deadline of 5pm loomed closer, they rallied themselves to quickly complete all the tasks.

The hard work paid off when the beneficiaries returned to their made over homes to meet the volunteers and thank them personally.

Through participation in this project, the students learnt how a seemingly simple chore like keeping a house clean might be beyond families where individuals work several jobs to make ends meet, or have health issues that prevent them from exerting themselves. The team also gained from their volunteer experience, in the form of a reminder to always be thankful for what they have, and to give back where they can.

It might have been a tiring event, but it was a spiritually rewarding one as well and we look forward to the next opportunity to volunteer our services, Alif said.

Source: National University of Singapore