How New Perspectives Changed My Thinking Towards My Home; Singapore.

Singapore is my home. It has always seemed ‘normal’ and will always be that way.

But it’s not all easy days. My parents are paying a mortgage loan for the past 6 years. They often rely on the CPF funds to pay off the loan. It’s hard for us to afford a car because of the certificate of entitlement as known as COE. Sometimes, I stress because of the competitive educational system. And some days, I feel like I work in a small factory — eat, study / work, sleep.

When I was younger, my dream was to contribute to making our planet a better place to live in. But as a normal guy, studying for my GCE ‘O’ level, how was I supposed to do that? I’ve always had that irrepressive urge to shout powerful messages or to tell a story in order to impact the communities around me. However, at the time, I had no passion that truly supported this mission.

Growing up, I found the best medium to express my thoughts: filmmaking.It allows me to document other people’s lives and helps me hone my skills in being as unbiased as I can. I did a documentary on my heartland — Toa Payoh. The topic was, ‘Places I call Home’. It developed my passion and a year ago I started searching for more opportunities to get exposure and experience.

A snapshot of the documentary ‘ Places I call Home’ I did 2 years ago

This is where I found Gone Adventurin’. I started to help the social enterprise on a documentary project in collaboration with the National Environment Agency called ‘Places we Love’ (a bit similar to the film I did, huh?).

The first production shoot was about a group called Singapore Glove Projectformed by a group of people from all walks of life. Their objective was to explore different parts of Singapore and to pick up litter along the way as an initiative to give back to the society and inspire every person to do their part in keeping Singapore clean.

Group of volunteers from Singapore Glove Project

At first, when I heard about this group and what they did — I was blown away. ‘On a Saturday morning, you come out and pick litter to keep Singapore clean?’ That was surprising. I did not expect anyone would do this, especially when considering how clean Singapore is to me. Their objective is actually not to pick up litter but to educate the community so that all of us can take responsibility and throw our litter in the right place. What was truly inspiring was the words of the founder, Tan Ken Jin, who said “Imagine if everyone of us could pick up one piece of trash every day and put it in the bin? That’s 5 million pieces of trash every day!”

Suddenly, I realised that I was surrounded by SO MANY incredible and inspiring people who are taking actions for the places they love around them. I managed to truly appreciate the amazing city I am living in!

The second experience for me was a group of young students that pick up litter after school. Once again, it was not something I get to see everyday. In my experience, it feels ridiculous to do something out of your limits. Not many people would be willing to pick up litter in broad daylight and when some witness such happenings they might even call them ‘wayang’ (acting in Malay).

Group of Students from Dunman Secondary School

It again changed my perspective and helped me to look at things in a positive way. For example, in the society we are in today — some of us call people who do good deeds, actors. I suggest we can all step back and look at it from a different perspective. What if I was in his/her shoes?

“Sometimes, little things make a big difference…” — Nino Varsimashvili

The following week, our team went to Sentosa for a project that is organised by Sentosa for all its employees. It is known as S.E.L.F (Sentosa Embraces Litter Free) Project. The volunteers did a really great job! (Kudos to them!) Every 2nd month more than a hundred Sentosa staff come together, rolling up their sleeves to pick up litter throughout Sentasa. I think the CEO of Sentosa, Mike Barclay, said it best: “While Sentosa is constantly kept litter-free and well-preened, many of us forget that behind the scenes, a battalion of cleaners are working hard to keep it this way”. So true.

Afterwards, we covered a National Environment Agency initiative known as Green Champs. We filmed a group of kindergarten children from My First Skool who were learning about how a Clean and Green environment can play a big part in Singapore.

The kids at My First Skool with their teacher

Thanks to these amazing experiences, I’ve realised I’m very fortunate to live in Singapore. I must emphasize that there are many things around us that we can always point out flaws in. However, without the form of appreciation and compassion in yourself — we may always be pointing out errors and complaining.

Let us all start by appreciating the bits and pieces, and the inspiring actions around us, whether it be our family, our friends or a stranger on the street. All can inspire us!

Afterwards, we can start to understand the problem or issue we are facing and come out with an ideal solution that can resolve the problem, as shown in book, The 3rd Alternative by Stephen Covey.

They have already done their part. Let us start today.

Watch the video teaser of ‘Places We Love’ here. And the videos on above heroes here:

:: Little ones leading the environment cause — My First Skool and Dunman High School

Cleaning up our backyard for the place we call home — Sentosa’s S.E.L.F programme & Habitat for Humanity

:: Communities that clean together have fun together — Singapore Glove Project and H.A.B.IT (Hold on And Bin It) Programme by Nee Soon South.

Article written by Lenney Leong — Photographer // Freelancer @Gone Adventurin’

Laura Allen

Firm believer that companies can unlock great business opportunities in tackling social and environmental challenges in their communities. Outside of the world of social business, Laura is an avid cyclist and rock-climber, and is passionate about topics such as the FutureOfFood (she co-founded a community farm in Singapore) and mindfulness.

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