Causes Week 2020: Volunteers from all walks of life help rental flat kids

Causes Week runs this year from Dec 20 to 25. It shines a light on various individuals and groups, and shows how they are making a difference through their chosen causes within the community.

Primary 5 students at KidzCare receive 1-1 tuition from volunteers in one of the rooms sponsored by ESR Business Park on Dec 17, 2020. ST PHOTO: JOEL CHAN

SINGAPORE - It is a diverse group of more than 100 people - students, retirees, housewives and professionals from fields such as law and technology - who have made common cause over helping children from rental flats in Chai Chee.

The volunteers, recruited mostly via friends and word of mouth, are part of KidzCare @ Kembangan-Chai Chee, an initiative under the Kembangan Chai Chee Youth Network.

They are keen to help the children succeed in life despite their family circumstances.

The initiative was founded seven years ago by two friends - Mr Jarel Tang, 25, a management consultant, and Mr Fung Chun Chang, 28, a business development manager at an artificial intelligence start-up.

Mr Tang said: "Not every child may have the same starting point in terms of family resources. Our hope is that we can provide the children some additional support so that every child has the opportunities to succeed in life, and along the way provide their families a better future as well."

The group now serves about 150 children through its free programmes, including its first - a homework club where students can bring schoolwork to get help from volunteers - and tuition programmes for Primary 5 and 6 pupils and lower-secondary students. It also has a reading programme for kindergarten and lower-primary pupils.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the group also organised excursions to places of interest for the children several times a year. Earlier this month, this resumed with a trip to Jurong Bird Park.

When the group first began, the homework club was held at an open-air pavilion located near the rental block flats using foldable tables and chairs.

Now, ESR Reit, which operates Viva Business Park in Chai Chee, has allowed the group to use some of the air-conditioned classrooms in the building for free, said Mr Tang.

Through the programmes, the children have been able to cope better in school, as well as develop self-confidence and values like discipline and respect for others, said Mr Tang.

Some of the programmes had to take a pause this year during the circuit breaker period, and are now slowly being ramped back up. Next year, KidzCare plans to serve more children on a weekly basis.

The group reaches out to children through house visits and other outreach activities, said Mr Tang.

He added: "We're also working with Bedok Social Service Office to run a pilot for an after-school study corner starting 2021."

"We don't want to be a tuition centre or a daycare centre, but a community - or a kampung - which comes together to help those among us who need a bit more support," said Mr Tang.

Those interested in volunteering can visit their Facebook page.

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