SINGAPORE - Social distancing may be the new buzz word but that has not dampened community spirit during the Covid-19 outbreak.From helping schoolmates get groceries to freelancers sharing gigs with their counterparts, these seven acts of kindness by Singaporeans show that compassion can spread faster than any virus.
1. Free masks
Since the outbreak, the shortage of masks worldwide has left many vulnerable.
Students Sheryl Goh, 18 and Vaishnavi Devan, 19, have been offering free masks on online marketplace Carousell and social media platform Reddit over the past three days.
Ms Goh, a student at Singapore Polytechnic, was inspired by a conversation with a woman on the train, who told her the four masks given out by the Government to each household were not enough. She says: "I think it's unfair to put all the responsibility on the Government when we're a community."
They forked out $200 to buy the masks from lifestyle retail stores like Kimoj and Green Party.
The response to their gesture has been overwhelming, she adds. They have so far sent around 20 packages to people in Singapore, Poland, Germany and the United States. They have about 50 masks left.
Ms Goh says they plan to do this until they cannot afford to anymore. "The money I spent isn't going to make or break me - it's not much, but it's the best I can do."
2. Support for freelancers
The cancellation of many events has impacted freelancers and gig workers. It prompted Mr Nicholas Chee, who works in the media sector, to start a Facebook group in February called SG COVID-19 Creative/Cultural Professionals & Freelancers Support Group, where freelancers can post tips, job listings and provide other types of support. It has over 4,000 members.
In conjunction, a website called Ilostmygig.sg was launched on March 23 to collect data on the losses suffered by those in the creative and arts and culture industries because of the outbreak, as well as provide access to resources, news and job postings.
Playwright Alfian Sa'at has also been doing his part. He wrote in a Facebook post on March 19 that he and some friends raised about $800 for a freelancer friend.
He said: "This will hopefully help our friend clear his bills - and the knots in the brain when one worries too much."
3. Solidarity with our international friends
With the implementation of the Malaysia's Movement Control Order on March 18, many Malaysians who work in Singapore were left without a roof over their heads.
Singaporeans came forward to help their neighbours from across the Causeway, handing out supplies and even opening up their homes.
Ms Angela Chan is one such angel. In a Facebook post on March 18, she said she had two bedrooms: "I will not be charging a single cent. This is nothing compared to our fellow Malaysians sacrificing being with their (families) for the next two weeks to feed (them)."
On March 19, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi called for a "Janata Curfew" - a 14-hour lockdown from 7am to 9pm on March 22 - to help curb the spread of the virus. He also urged citizens to clap, ring bells or bang utensils at 5pm that day, to show their gratitude to providers of medical and other essential services.
In Singapore, residents at Costa Rhu condominium in Marine Parade decided to do the same to show their appreciation for healthcare workers around the world.
One of the residents, Ms Shalima Hotial, the chief executive of event company Dream Catchers Vision, says: "We came out onto our balconies at 5pm and 7.30pm (to clap and ring bells). The initiative started in India, but we wanted to show our gratitude in a similar fashion."
4. Recreational activities for seniors on Facebook
When Mr Moses Sia, 53, read about how many senior citizens could no longer gather for community activities, he wanted to do something that would "bring some cheer" to them.
On Monday (March 23), the freelance educator-artist created the group SilverGood, which aims to live-stream exercise, music, craft, storytelling and cooking sessions for seniors on Facebook (facebook.com/groups/silvergoodsg), from 8am to 10am on weekdays. Volunteers will conduct the sessions and can sign up for a 10- to 15-minute segment via a Google form.
So far, the group has about 55 members and 15 volunteers who can host live broadcasts, ranging from singing golden oldies to preparing smoothies and demonstrating head-to-toe stretches.
SilverGood is planning to reach out to seniors via volunteer organisations such as RSVP Singapore, an organisation of senior volunteers, and family service centres, within the next few days.
The first session is scheduled for next Monday (March 30) and will feature a demonstration of making smoothie shakes and painting with brewed coffee.
5. Covid-19 educational video in five dialects
"Hello! You must have observed that many people are wearing masks lately," begins the two-minute video filmed by Mr Eugene Lee and his wife Ski. It goes on to explain the symptoms of Covid-19, how to protect yourself, and what to do if you are ill.
The couple are behind LearnDialect.sg, which teaches dialects via workshops and educational videos.
Available in five different dialects - Teochew, Hakka, Cantonese, Hainanese and Hokkien - the video aims to bridge the communication gap that senior citizens may have with mainstream media or healthcare professionals.
The most popular video, recorded in Hokkien, has been viewed over 96,000 times since it was released on YouTube on Feb 3.
6. Bringing back the kampung spirit
Do you need groceries or meals delivered while you are under home quarantine?
You can get your neighbours to help by signing up on the GoodHood.SG app, which entrepreneur Nigel Teo started developing in January this year to "bring back the kampung spirit".
The 39-year-old says he is further inspired now by "ground needs amid the virus outbreak". For example, the app also has a "share a mask" function which allows users to request for or donate their extra surgical masks.
The app has been downloaded more than 200 times since it was made available on the App and Google Play Stores on March 22.
7. Free food for healthcare workers
Even as the industry is being battered by the pandemic, some food and beverage outlets have banded together to deliver free meals and coffee to several hospitals, including the National Centre for Infectious Diseases and National University Hospital.
Mr Han Li Guang, 35, chef-owner of one-Michelin-starred restaurant Labyrinth, says: "Although the industry has been badly hit, we believe that business and giving are two separate entities."
Since the beginning of March, Labyrinth, located at the Esplanade, has contributed $20 per dinner customer, $40 for every full bottle of wine sold, and $80 per bottle of corkage charged at their restaurant, to the fund.
Other eateries involved in the initiative are Jam At Siri House, Sanity Coffee, Pezzo Group and Keng Eng Kee Seafood.
"We are united by food, so I hope we can use this network to do some good," says Mr Han.
Indeed, the food these eateries deliver to healthcare workers will not only fill their stomachs but also warm their hearts.