A Dedicated Teacher

Volunteering amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic has not been easy for many, but for Irene Chua, 23, a Singapore Red Cross volunteer, her spirit of giving triumphed. Irene has been volunteering with Singapore Red Cross’ Young Hearts programme since it was established, telling stories to young children, to help enhance their literacy as well as build their confidence. She has also helped in tutoring older children. 

“I really see the importance of education in children’s lives. It motivated me to be a part of their weekly improvement,” affirmed Irene Chua.

As a volunteer of Singapore Red Cross’ Young Hearts programme, Irene, 23, tells stories and mentors children aged four to eight years old and provides tuition for children aged nine to 12 from less privileged families. Every Thursday night prior to the circuit breaker, Irene joined a group of volunteers who gathered at the void deck of a rental flat in Nee Soon; coaching the children, telling stories, as well as playing sports with them. Motivated to enhance the children’s literacy to improve their future prospects, Irene volunteered in the programme frequently. 

The children quickly recognised her regular appearances, and it did not take long before the children started running to greet her with a warm smile or hug. She recounted that a child remembered her and asked to be tutored by her again. That was the moment she realised she could be a positive change in his life. As she continued tutoring him, she noticed that he became more confident in his answers, and his attitude towards studying became more positive. She felt proud to effect a positive change in his life, by helping to build his confidence in his studies.

Lighting a candle in the darkest times

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, she recalled how organisers struggled to find volunteers who could commit long-term.

“Both working adults and students have their work and academic schedules to commit to. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, people are wary of the spread in the community and may be reluctant to go to places that they are not familiar with,” she explained.

She understands that people are concerned about the growing number of cases in the community and that many people are suffering from caution fatigue. However, she believes that in times of darkness, humanity needs to shine the brightest as the vulnerable in our community need us the most. By lighting a candle in the darkest times, individuals like Irene show that they will always help to provide that glimmer of light. This truly sets the tone of how our role model volunteers can provide guidance to the next generation.

Like a Second Family

Mr Premkumar’s eight-year-old son has benefited greatly from this programme. Working hard to make ends meet, he struggled to find the time to coach his son in his studies. The Young Hearts programme provided him with peace of mind knowing that his son was learning and having fun. He witnessed his son’s excitement whenever Thursday drew near, eager to meet with the warm volunteers and fellow children in the neighbourhood. “It’s like a second family,” he shared. 

As his son went for more sessions on Thursdays, their parent and child bond improved as his son shared his achievements from the weekly sessions. Now, his son is more mature, more responsible, and takes more pride in his work.

“I would like to thank the Singapore Red Cross for caring for the children in the neighbourhood. The volunteers do it wholeheartedly without anything in return. It lessens the burdens of parents. All the parents, including myself, really appreciate them a lot," said Premkumar. 

Long-Distance Winner

Irene encourages new volunteers to go the distance. The best way to make a difference, she emphasised strongly, is to volunteer regularly. It takes time to positively transform a person’s life. It cannot be achieved with just one visit. Time, effort, and the regular commitment of a volunteer are indispensable factors. To her, knowing that she has made a difference in a child’s life makes it all worth it.

“If you want to be part of something bigger, you need to be willing to give something bigger. Be patient with the results, because great things are worth the wait.”

By Brian Lee Han Quan, Volunteer 
Copyedited by Shareen Sophia Louise Thomson, Volunteer


Inspired? You can uplift the lives of others or enhance community resilience by volunteering too!