The Straits Times | 21 July 2022
SINGAPORE - A new food distribution initiative aims to help disadvantaged families while getting volunteers to talk to one another about their cultures and identities.
Non-profit organisation Humanity Matters launched "Movement R" on Thursday (July 21), which is Racial Harmony Day in Singapore.
The group said the movement is about "rice and respect", and regardless of race, religion or records (criminal past).
Deputy chairman of Humanity Matters Gurmit Singh, 73, said volunteers may be wary or feel awkward when talking formally about topics like religion.
"But in an informal setting, they may be more comfortable to ask, and get their questions answered," he added.
Around 50 volunteers turned up on Thursday to pack 3.75 tonnes of rice into 5kg packets for distribution to 750 financially disadvantaged families and households where the main income earner is a former offender.
Mr Singh said that when the volunteers broke for lunch, they exchanged details about their cultures and cuisines, which got them sharing about one another's religions as well.
"With the launch of Movement R and monthly distribution, we hope that more volunteers will show up to help with the repacking of rice and initiate conversations among one another," said Mr Singh.
After the initial distribution to homes in the five districts in Singapore, the group will deliver one tonne of rice to 200 households every month.
Most of the volunteers who gathered on Thursday at the Superior Industrial Building in Geylang were from SG Core, a programme launched last year to promote social cohesion and resilience.
Among the volunteers was Ms Guo Huixin, 38.
Ms Guo, who is a Chinese national and Singapore permanent resident, had also volunteered amid the pandemic.
She packed masks, medicines and sanitary items for delivery to hospitals in Wuhan.
"I find it meaningful to help disadvantaged people, and it also helps me learn a lot of new things," said Ms Guo.
Mr Singh said initiatives like Movement R can help foster understanding among the different cultures.
"With Movement R, we hope to create an informal environment for volunteers to learn different multicultural facts while simultaneously helping the community," he added.