So much we can learn from these inspiring S'poreans who have volunteered overseas

Jonathan Lee
The New Paper
15 April 2017

In a trip to Myanmar's Kayin state last month, founder of Love Pal Club (LPC), Mr Ong Wee Yeap, 37, saw an eight-month-old girl die.

He said: "We were supposed to take the child to the hospital but she died before we were able to (do so)."

Despite the tragedy, Mr Ong, a financial service director, and his team of 14 volunteers managed to build two schools for the Keran children in the former war zone.

The World Giving Index survey of 140 countries found that fewer Singaporeans volunteered last year. However, groups such as LPC are pressing ahead with their mission.

Mr Ong founded LPC in 2004, and it has built water tanks in Laos and basketball courts for children in Nepal.

Volunteers who go for overseas trips with LPC pay an amount that covers food, lodging and flight costs. Late last year, LPC started a cafe at 8 Queen Street to promote volunteerism and showcase its work.

Another group involved in overseas volunteer work is Be A Blessing Everyday Singapore.

The youth project, helmed by Miss Cherry Wee, 22, and Miss Alison Yeo, 20, set up a fundraising initiative to help needy children in South-east Asia.

The girls raised $10,000 to help orphanages and churches in Thailand and Cambodia in June last year.

Miss Wee, an NUS business administration student, told TNP: "It all started from wanting to make a difference and wanting to live lives that were larger than ourselves."

Disaster relief organisation Relief Singapore (RSG) is another group that is active overseas.

It is started by Mr Jonathan How, 45, to provide disaster relief in South-east Asia.

When haze struck Kalimantan, RSG was one of two organisations to form a rapid response team to deliver 25,000 N95 masks to help the locals.

It relies on donations and has sent volunteers to Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, Myanmar and the Republic of Vanuatu.

Volunteers pay a fee of between $600 and $900, inclusive of food, lodging and transport.

Mr How, a community musician, said: "I am doing it alone for now, but I hope to have a small team to better respond to the needs in the region."

The Singapore Red Cross told TNP it has noticed a rise among its pool of overseas volunteers.

Its spokesman said: "In 2015, SRC deployed a record number of 50 volunteers overseas, and they contributed approximately 500 days of service."

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