Wanted: Stories of Singaporeans' struggles, triumphs amid Covid-19

The public is invited to contribute their own stories in pictures, video and audio, to the newly launched Stories Of Us website.
The public is invited to contribute their own stories in pictures, video and audio, to the newly launched Stories Of Us website.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

The surreal sight of supermarkets thronged with people panic buying, after it was announced that Singapore would enforce circuit breaker measures.

A husband who has not seen his wife since then, nor their son his mother.

One's lifelong dream of taking to the skies put on hold, with flight school suspended indefinitely.

These and other memories and experiences of Singaporeans against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic ravaging the world can be viewed on the website www.storiesofus.gov.sg, which was launched on Friday.

The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth is also inviting the public to contribute and submit their own stories in pictures, video and audio to the site, a shared documentation of Singaporeans' struggles and triumphs.

The pandemic has affected all Singaporeans, said the ministry: from the country's first recorded case on Jan 23 last year to the circuit breaker from April 7 to June 1, and over a progressive reopening leading to phase three from Dec 28.

Stories on the site are categorised by emotions spanning happiness, hope, empathy, gratitude, sadness, frustration, anxiety and "sian", a Hokkien term used here to indicate the feeling of being caught in a bothersome situation.

One submission under "happiness" was a screenshot of a Zoom call between several households celebrating Hari Raya in May, from Ms Hafizah Jainal.

"It was nice to see everyone even though it was through a screen, but this will never replace the warmness of physically meeting each other," she said, in an accompanying caption.

Another happy story was contributed by Ms Mahendran Rudrarani, who described how her 81-year-old mother immersed herself in gardening during the outbreak - growing ladies' fingers, chillies, brinjals, lime as well as bananas and papayas.

Ms Rudrarani wrote: "My mother is able to prepare and share many traditional dishes including using the stem and the flower of the banana. My family members are very proud of her efforts."

But the fundamentally sobering nature of present times was captured in an entry by Ms Yvonne Cheng on giving birth to her son during the circuit breaker, tagged under "frustration".

"This meant that skin-to-skin contact upon his birth would be hindered by a surgical mask," she said. "The postpartum period has always been a time when family and emotional support is important, yet we can only connect virtually and be there for one another in a very different way than we have imagined.

"For now, we can only wait for the measures to loosen and trust that eventually we will prevail over the pandemic."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2021, with the headline 'Wanted: Stories of Singaporeans' struggles, triumphs amid Covid-19'. Subscribe