Coronavirus Pandemic

Love and kindness in trying times

Social distancing may be the new buzzword, but that has not dampened community spirit during the pandemic. From helping neighbours 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.

The SG Covid-19 Creative/Cultural Professionals & Freelancers Support Group on Facebook lets freelancers post tips and job listings and provide other types of support to their counterparts.
The SG Covid-19 Creative/Cultural Professionals & Freelancers Support Group on Facebook lets freelancers post tips and job listings and provide other types of support to their counterparts.PHOTO: FREELANCER FACEBOOK GROUP
The SG Covid-19 Creative/Cultural Professionals & Freelancers Support Group on Facebook lets freelancers post tips and job listings and provide other types of support to their counterparts.
Ilostmygig.sg.PHOTO: ILOSTMYGIG

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 last month called SG Covid-19 Creative/Cultural Professionals & Freelancers Support Group, where freelancers can post tips and job listings and provide other types of support. It has more than 4,000 members.

In conjunction, a website called Ilostmygig.sg  was launched on Monday to collect data on the losses suffered by those in the creative and arts and culture industries because of the pandemic, 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 says: "This will hopefully help our friend clear his bills - and the knots in the brain when one worries too much."


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 Singapore Polytechnic student, was inspired by a conversation with a woman on the train, who told her the four masks given 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 such as Kimoj and Green Party.


PHOTO: CAROUSELL

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 do so 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."



PHOTO: SILVERGOOD

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, the freelance educator-artist created the group SilverGood, which aims to livestream exercise, music, craft, storytelling and cooking sessions for seniors on Facebook (facebook.com/groups/silvergoodsg) from 8 to 10am on weekdays.

Volunteers will conduct the sessions. They 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 to 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 and will feature a demonstration of making smoothie shakes and painting with brewed coffee.



PHOTO: YOUTUBE

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 the coronavirus, how to protect yourself against it 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 dialects - Teochew, Hakka, Cantonese, Hainanese and Hokkien (above) - 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 more than 96,000 times since it was released on YouTube on Feb 3.



PHOTO: #SGSTRONG

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 (above) started developing in January this year to "bring back the kampung spirit".

The 39-year-old 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 or donate their extra surgical masks.

The app has already been downloaded more than 200 times since it was made available on the App and Google Play Stores on Sunday.



PHOTO: PEZZO GROUP

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 business and giving are two separate entities."

Since the beginning of this month, Labyrinth, located at the Esplanade, has contributed $20 a dinner customer, $40 for every full bottle of wine sold and $80 a bottle of corkage charged at its restaurant to the fund.

Other eateries involved in the initiative are Jam At Siri House, Sanity Coffee, Pezzo Group and Keng Eng Kee Seafood. Mr Han says: "We are united by food, so I hope we can use this network to do some good."

Indeed, the food these eateries deliver to healthcare workers will not only fill their stomachs, but also warm their hearts.



PHOTO: ANGELA CHAN/FACEBOOK

SOLIDARITY WITH INTERNATIONAL FRIENDS

With the implementation of 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 of them. In a Facebook post on March 18 (above), she says she has 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 Sunday earlier this week to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. He also urged citizens to clap, ring bells or bang utensils at 5pm that day to show their gratitude to providers of medical and essential services.

In Singapore, residents at Costa Rhu condominium in Tanjong Rhu decided to do the same to show their appreciation for healthcare workers around the world.

One of the residents, Ms Shalima Motial, chief executive of event company Dream Catchers Vision, says: "We came out onto our balconies at 5 and 7.30pm (to clap and ring bells). The initiative started in India, but we wanted to show our gratitude in a similar fashion."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 26, 2020, with the headline 'Love and kindness in trying times'. Subscribe