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4 BRATs

SundayStar

30 October 2005

Little sacrifice goes a long way

BY NIKI CHEONG

HERE are times when I feel that


Im not doing enough. It is not
that I do not have the heart to
help. I just do not feel like I have the
energy or time.
As a journalist, I meet lots of
young people who sacrifice their
time to help others. And it just
reminds me of the days when I was
just a wee bit younger.
The difference is that I am working and no longer a student. How
often have I heard myself saying,
Oh, Ive worked so hard all day, I
deserve a break.
I never needed breaks when I was
studying, no matter how busy my
days were. A packed schedule was
never an excuse to not do things..
Perhaps one of the wonders of
being a teenager, apart from the
energy and enthusiasm, was feeling
the need to prove oneself.
I am envious when I meet college
students who can spend a whole
weekend just helping others.
For the same reason, I get annoyed
when I see self-centred youngsters
shrug at the thought of doing something for others.
In my final year of college in Kuala
Lumpur, before I went abroad to
complete my studies, I organised a
charity performance in conjunction
with World AIDS Day.
Because of the scale of the project,

PITCHING IN: The BRATs recycling greeting cards into decorative items for a charity sale. People who selflessly dedicate some part of their life for the
good of others, truly deserve respect.
I had to engage the help of some of
my friends. It still pains me to
remember some of their responses
when I approached them for help.
The one that I remember most
vividly was, Why are you doing
this? Its not like you have AIDS.
Now, whether it is AIDS, or anything else, the point is that we
should always spare a thought for
others. Based on my friends logic, it
will mean that only the blind can
lead the blind, the deaf will speak for
the deaf and the handicap will have
to fend for themselves.

What got to me most was that I


knew that her comment had nothing
to do with discrimination against
HIV+ people. She was just reluctant
to make the effort to help others.
Sure, even I admit that the project
was ambitious, and not many people
have that much time really.
But I remember the students who
spent just a couple of hours a week
volunteering at the Malaysian AIDS
Council, and the BRATs who came
together to wash cars in aid of the
students at Monfort Boys Town.
Doing community work was very

much a part of my varsity life in


Perth, Australia. My friends and I
spent a couple of hours, twice a
week, to volunteer at a youth dropin centre. I also have friends who'd
distribute fliers to educate people on
breast cancer.
It really does not take much to
reach out to the community. You do
not have to spend every weekend
doing charity, and neither do you
have to sacrifice valuable study time
each day. Every little bit does help.
And for those of you who are
working now, and like me, really

have little time (or think we do not),


there are other ways to help.
Because of the charity car wash, I
make frequent donations to Montfort Boys Town. And Im also a sponsor to a child through the World
Vision programme.
If you are still not convinced that
you should get involved in community work, then be supportive of
your friends. These people who have
so selflessly dedicated some part of
their life for the good of others, truly
deserve respect. And that could be
your contribution.

Looking at community service in a new light


BY JESSICA KAN

HAVE you ever wondered why lots of young


people spend their time helping the community? I mean, how much fun can one
have cleaning the dogs cage in SPCA or
reading to the blind?
Many adults, or should I say grown ups,
have this viewpoint that teens are doing it
just to have fun, or that these young people
are being forced by their elders into doing it
simply because it is the right thing to do.
In my attempt to get some feedback from
young people today, I found that they are
motivated by different factors in doing community work. Most, however, do it for the
sense of self-accomplishment.
Divakaran Vasudevan, 19, is currently
coordinating a donation drive with
Antarabudaya Malaysia to collect necessities
for the victims of the South Asia Earthquake.
He feels that coordinating the drive not only
gives him self-fulfilment but a focus in life.
In my opinion, it is better to spend time
doing something meaningful than wasting
time and money in places like the shopping
mall or entertainment places, he said.
At the end of the day, I would like to
give myself a pat on the back for having
done something to make a difference in
society.

FOR A GOOD CAUSE: AFS students packing blankets for earthquake victims in Pakistan.

Chew Meng San, 19, expressed a similar


sentiment. He first volunteered at the
Welcome Home (AIDS Community Centre),
and realised that helping the community
helped him cherish what he has in life.
It makes me thankful for my blessings,

he explained.
Schools also play a big role in stirring up
the desire to contribute towards the
community. These days, community service
projects are a requirement to gain a credit
in Moral Education. This has led some stu-

dents to develop a passion for community


work.
Such was the case with Subashini
Sivalingam. The 18-year-old got involved in
community service projects when she was
15 because it is one of the requirements to
earn credits in school.
After spending a day at a childrens
home, she realised how thankful she was to
have a loving family.
I felt so sorry for the kids because most
of them are sent there because they are unwanted, Subashini said.
It made me realise how fortunate I am to
have a family who values people,she
added.
As for me, after two years of being a BRAT
and having returned from an enriching student exchange programme, I realise that
there is more to life than just taking care of
our daily routine.
Getting involved in a service project
would not only give you a better idea of
what the world is like but it is also a key to
finding your lifes direction.
Community service projects will also give
you a chance to break down your preconceived notions and prejudices as you get in
touch with people you might have otherwise not met. This will subsequently contribute in making you tomorrows leader.