YOUTH FORUM

Volunteering: Quality more important

ALTHOUGH Singaporean youngsters spend significant amounts of time volunteering, the question is: How sincere are we about serving ("Are youth really not volunteering enough"; May 25)?

Students often scramble to fulfil the minimum requirements of their Community Involvement Programme (CIP).

Others chalk up a stunning number of CIP hours to ensure they do not lose out during university applications. During exam periods, the voluntary welfare organisations are empty.

In a recent survey I conducted in my school, I found that out of 100 students who had volunteered with the elderly, 27 of them had never spoken with the elderly around the school, such as janitors and canteen vendors, beyond transactional conversations.

I was disturbed when some said they did not see the point, when asked why they did not do so. Have we become a generation that has forgotten to care for people around us?

It is not about how much time we spend serving others, but the quality of time.

The mindset that only those "less fortunate" than ourselves deserve our care is also depressing. Community service is about the community, not about "superior" volunteers "doing good" for "inferior" beneficiaries.

"Volunteering enough" should not be measured by time spent, but how well the values of community service translate to real life, leading to the creation of an inclusive society.

Yeo Min (Miss), 19, waiting to enter university

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 Act selflessly to help those in need

WHAT two construction workers from India did to save a toddler was very brave ("Rescuers' only thought was to save toddler"; April 25).

Their first thought was to rescue the toddler, without considering their own safety or how they were going to get down from the parapet.

It is rare to see Singaporeans doing this. Singaporeans usually consider the risks involved before taking action.

They put themselves before others, especially in times of danger or if there is a risk of getting hurt.

Hence, they walk away or help indirectly by calling the police or an ambulance.

We should learn from the two workers.

We should put other people's safety as our priority, and not be selfish by considering only our own safety and convenience.

The next time we see someone in trouble, instead of asking why we must help or whether we are creating unnecessary trouble for ourselves, let us show some empathy and render the help needed.

Fong Jun Xiang, 18, second-year polytechnic student