The desire to make volunteerism in the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information more sustainable brought third-year students Eugene Tang, Alif Amsyar and Jerome Wong (all CS’20) together to revamp the existing volunteer programme in school.
Their experience during WeeTrip (WKWSCI’s annual overseas community involvement project) two years ago, which saw the trio building a house in Vietnam, made them question if their efforts would have a lasting impact.
“We moved bricks for the house but the villagers could do that faster than we ever could. This spurred the question: Are we actually doing something substantial for the people over there?”
Eugene Tang (CS'20), Chairman of WeeVolunteer
“We moved bricks for the house but the villagers could do that faster than we ever could. This spurred the question: Are we actually doing something substantial for the people over there?” Tang said.
This led to them founding WeeVolunteer in July 2018, an umbrella programme that encompasses the new local outreach initiative, WeeReach, as well as the longstanding overseas outreach programme, WeeTrip, which has been running for 7 years.
Overseas co-chairman Alif, who spearheads the overseas outreach programme, describes WeeVolunteer, or WeeVo for short, as a “new start”, as WKWSCI has never had an outreach programme that catered to the local community before.
The organising committee of WeeVo noticed that in recent years, many students have expressed their interest to volunteer, but a large number of them could not commit to WeeTrip. They either found the trip costly or it clashed with their plans for the semester break, said WeeVo chairman Tang.
WeeReach was then put in place to “get more friends on board with the idea of volunteering” and tap on the interest of those who already wanted to volunteer, added Tang.
Giving Back To Our Own Community
Through WeeReach, WKWSCI students spend Saturday mornings volunteering at either Jamiyah Children’s Home or Home for the Aged once every two weeks, with some choosing to volunteer for both.
At the children’s home, volunteers conduct classes to teach the children creative writing and English, whereas the line-up of activities for the elderly are geared towards providing leisure and enjoyment.
For volunteer Hemant Mathy (CS’21), WeeReach has taught him a valuable lesson. He said: “WeeReach has shown that we don't need to go overseas to help because there are people that need attention and help right in our own backyard.”
The WeeTrip to Laos
Besides the local outreach activities, WeeVo also continues the tradition of helping communities abroad.
At the end of last year, 20 volunteers embarked on a service learning journey to Luang Prabang, Laos, to build a water filtration system. They tapped on their communication skills, documenting their experiences through videos and photographs for their website.
And with WeeTrip including volunteers from different batches, each individual was able to contribute to the project in their own way.
Vera Lim (CS’22), a photographer for WeeTrip said: “We have different fields of experience, so our strengths and weaknesses really complemented each other.”
Building the WeeVo Legacy Together
Besides continuing old traditions and starting new ones, WeeVo ultimately aims to foster a greater sense of volunteerism and kinship within the WKWSCI community.
Regardless of which batch they’re from, WeeVo gives WKWSCI students the opportunity to come together and give back to society, said co-chairman Wong.
And it is this legacy that the founders of WeeVo hope to leave behind.
Alif said: “At the heart of what we do, it is about the stories of the people we reach. We hope our stories help you understand that there are people around us who are not as privileged as we are.”