By Bavani Amavasi, SRC Nurses Network

It was a wish come true for me to be given the opportunity to go on a healthcare mission trip to Vavuniya, Sri Lanka along with a team of healthcare professionals from 11 June to 16 June 2017. The mission trip enabled us to leverage our expertise to give back to the community.

Our team’s objectives were to provide health and eye assessments, and conduct health talks on diabetes, hypertension and chronic kidney diseases to vulnerable communities in Vavuniya.

Preparation work began three weeks prior to the mission. Our team worked together to tailor assessment forms and health talk materials to the community’s needs. It was exciting coming together to contribute our various expertise in the best interest of Vavuniya’s communities.

For me, excitement piled up when we reached Vavuniya as it was my first mission trip. It was a joy meeting up with our partners, teams from Mahakaruna Buddhist Society and Vavuniya General Hospital. We shared ideas on how to serve the communities.

The mission was a success - we provided health and eye assessments and conducted health talks to 561 patients over three days. We did our utmost to help those who reached out to us; both the young and old, the healthy and those unwell. It was a proud moment for the Singapore Red Cross (SRC) as we initiated our first eye assessments for the communities. We distributed 127 used spectacles to those in need. It meant so much to the patients to receive the the spectacles from us as the spectacles will help them in their daily lives. Their gratitude upon receiving the spectacles still remains etched as a vivid memory in my mind.

As part of an enthusiastic team of healthcare professionals, we shared information on diabetes, hypertension and chronic kidney diseases through talks in the communities. We exchanged ideas on leading a healthy, and better quality life by engaging in small daily efforts. It was an extraordinary experience engaging with the communities in this meaningful mission trip.

Goodwill was established through this healthcare mission. The mission trip was a breakthrough for SRC, Mahakaruna Buddhist Society, Vavuniya General Hospital and myself. We reached out and met the healthcare needs of the vulnerable communities in Vavuniya, learnt Sri Lanka’s culture and paved the way for future healthcare collaborations through networking.

Lastly, I am honoured to be a part of this healthcare team serving the communities of Vavuniya. I look forward to continuing the mission to care and serve those in need in the future.

by Abdul Hadi, Red Cross Youth

Seventy-three Secondary 3 Cadets from 41 Red Cross Youth (RCY) units were groomed to be leaders of their respective RCY units at the Warrant Officers Programme 2017 (formerly known as the Unit Leaders Programme).

Through a series of exercises, lessons and assessments held at Red Cross Training Campsite on 4 June, the participants were equipped with the right skills, knowledge and values to lead the RCY units in their schools. They were also encouraged to develop a holistic and enriching experience for RCY cadets.

Unlike previous years, the WOP 2017 introduced the Youth Leadership Badge which enables all RCY cadets to develop their leadership skills in Red Cross.

The theme of WOP 2017 Programme was Sustainable Energy. Based on the Youth Leadership Syllabus, leaders learnt the importance of inspiring their peers to serve humanity and save lives, sustaining their energy throughout their upcoming journey as leaders and juggling between leading a unit and their academic pursuits. Their platoon names, Bio, Hydro, Solar, Thermo and Turbo, reminded them of the importance of striving to achieve a balance in terms of attaining excellence, exercising care, learning about leadership and sustaining energy within the unit through leadership behaviors (such as listening to other people’s ideas, or giving clear instructions) to ensure that the cadets have a meaningful and enjoyable RCY journey.

The programme was carefully designed to provide various opportunities for our leaders to work in teams and put leadership behaviors into practice. These were the highlights:

  1. Unit training simulations provided platforms for our leaders to understand the mechanics behind conducting unit trainings. They learnt about the delegation of manpower, working with the support teams (logistics, safety, administration) and energising their cadets.

  2. The Parliament House visit enabled our leaders to gain insights on how they could run the EXCO in their unit. For instance, they learnt that the Speaker of Parliament controls the length of time each minister was given to speak at meetings. Timers provide guidance to the minister’s pace of speaking. Some leaders suggested that they can adopt a similar method to keep track of time, stay focused and ensure that everyone has sufficient time to speak. Ashley Tan from Nan Chiau High School Red Cross Unit felt that this visit was very meaningful as she gained confidence in running her unit after seeing how the leaders of Singapore run theirs.

  3. Various exercises held around the neighbourhood provided opportunities for our leaders to put their leadership skills into practice. One exercise required them to get to the top floor of HDB blocks to simulate a fire-drill exercise by bringing handicapped personnel (role-played) down a long flight of steps within a tight time limit while looking out for safety hazards along the way. These exercises reminded our leaders that the subjects they will be teaching back in their RCY units will serve a real purpose - to prepare their cadets to protect their families in times of emergency, and help their neighbors who may be incapable of evacuating alone.

The programme ended with the WOP Passing Out Ceremony, where parents and Volunteer Instructors (VIs) attended leadership lessons conducted by the leaders. Parents and relatives engaged in a multitude of activities, including being taught leadership concepts by their own sons and daughters. The Ceremony was graced by the Senior Minister of State, Ms Sim Ann, who pinned the Staff Sergeant Ranks onto the well-deserving leaders in the presence of proud parents and VIs. That day will definitely be a vivid memory for all as our leaders then recited their WOP creed with a candle in their hands. The candle symbolised the responsibility and honour they have been conferred to be the light that guides and leads cadets in their respective units towards humanitarian causes.

WOP marks the beginning of their leadership journey. Their Warrant Officer ranks await them in 2018 during the RCY FLARE Conference. Only time will tell if they will be humanitarian leaders they promise to be, and if they are able to lead and serve.