Volunteers join heritage project to help with efforts to reintegrate ex-offenders

Passers-by looking at a bunga manggar display at Wisma Geylang Serai on Aug 23, 2021. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH
Minister Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim (centre) unveiled the installation on Aug 23, 2021. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - To prepare for Chingay this year, 150 participants of different races came together to make 1,000 sticks of eco-friendly bunga manggar.

These decorations are a traditional feature of Malay weddings, symbolising prosperity and the hope that the couple will have many children.

The bunga manggar, usually made of thin bamboo sticks and colourful paper strips, were created with recycled and other eco-friendly materials, as part of #MESRAChingay2021, a series of activities of the People's Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council (Mesra) for Chingay 2021.

They were then put together into colourful poles for the "Adopt a Bunga Manggar'' project. This was to raise funds for programmes of the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (Sana).

Sana's programmes assist families of drug offenders and former offenders. They also help former offenders reintegrate into society.

The poles were put up for adoption at $500 each over March and April.

Now, the adopted bunga manggar poles have been placed in "Colours of Harmony: Celebrating our Culture", an installation at Wisma Geylang.

The installation was unveiled by Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development, on Monday (Aug 23).

He said: "This effort requires a lot of support from the community and the success of this initiative signals a resounding yes (from the community) to this process of rehabilitation."

A cheque of $5,000 was presented to Sana at the event.

Mr Abdul Karim, the executive director of Sana, said: "I'm thankful because this is an initiative taken by Mesra, and this is a period of time when we needed more support. This shows that the community cares a lot and really wants to come forward to help others."

One of the volunteers was happy that she could participate in this initiative.

Retiree Lucy Ho, 72, said: "I got to learn something new and make new friends.

"I could learn about this culture, and keep my brain active."

The installation will be showcased till Sept 17.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.