Initiative to support underprivileged Marsiling residents launched by PM Lee

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (right) and Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Zaqy Mohamad taking part in a tree-planting activity as part of the annual Marsiling Community Day on March 10, 2019.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (right) and Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Zaqy Mohamad taking part in a tree-planting activity as part of the annual Marsiling Community Day on March 10, 2019.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - A new initiative which aims to foster a caring, neighbourly community in Marsiling was launched on Sunday (March 10).

Marsiling Cares comprises several new and existing programmes to provide the estate's underprivileged residents with more support.

Led by Marsiling grassroots volunteers and community partners, they include tutorial classes for less privileged children in English and mathematics subjects, and the setting up of a social service hub to help vulnerable families.

The initiative was launched by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who was joined by Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC grassroots organisations' advisers Lawrence Wong, Zaqy Mohamad, Ong Teng Koon and Alex Yam at an event at Marsiling Park.

Mr Zaqy, who is also Minister of State for National Development and Manpower, said: "Marsiling Cares strings together many of our help initiatives, so that we can leverage on our resident outreach and make available to them a range of initiatives depending on what they need."

Marsiling will be among the estates where the first four Community Link hubs will be set up over the next two years, as announced by Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee in Parliament last Tuesday (March 05).

The other estates are Jalan Kukoh, Kembangan-Chai Chee and Boon Lay. These locations were chosen as they have a sizeable number of families with children living in rental flats.

Community Link, which aims to provide customised support for vulnerable families, will include spaces for the community, including businesses and residents themselves, to run programmes or deliver services to help those in need.

A local work group will pinpoint the needs of the Marsiling community and plan for services at the programme space.

Among the other programmes under the initiative is the Marsiling Progress Class, where s40 volunteers, including school teachers from the estate, offer tutoring classes for underprivileged children at Marsiling Community Club every Sunday. The kids are grouped according to their level and learning speed, so that they can learn better within small groups.

Another existing programme KelasMateMatika - a collaboration between three Malay/Muslim organisations Mendaki, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) and the People's Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council (Mesra) - equips low-income families with techniques they can use to help their preschool children grasp basic maths concepts.

It is intended to help these children have a good start in education. During the sessions, children are exposed to maths concepts like numbers and shapes, while parents pick up techniques to help them.

Sunday's launch was part of the annual Marsiling Community Day, which saw more than 2,500 residents and their families participating in activities from batik painting to cultural performances.

In his speech, Mr Zaqy commended residents who have helped to build a caring community in Marsiling. One such resident is Mr Huang Liang Rui, who collects unsold bread from a nearby bakery as early as 5am each day and distributes it to elderly residents who live alone.

The 80-year-old retiree, who has been helping out for the past two years, said: "We should do our part to help others who are not as fortunate. I will continue to help until my body is not able to do this any more."