An old lady sits by the window and looks out at the children playing in the snow covered lawn. She sighs softly as she recalls how her family used to gather at Christmas time and there would be laughter and cheer. These days, she spends Christmas alone by herself. Suddenly, there is a knock on her door and from outside comes the sound of angelic voices. As the carolers sang the songs of love, joy and peace, her heart was filled with warmth once again.
There is nothing like the singing of Christmas carols to draw in the festive cheer and joy of the season. With this in mind, several groups from City Harvest Church got down to planning, rehearsing and staging their own caroling performances at various housing estates, rehabilitation centers, elderly care centers and nursing homes.
A Matter of Heart
For the AN Zone with more than 100 people, their caroling was not the usual type heard at shopping malls. They got together to translate traditional Christmas carols into Mandarin and Hokkien in order to appeal to the Mandarin and dialect speaking families that made up the lower bracket in the Dakota Crescent housing estate. Following days of rehearsals, the carolers broke themselves up into groups of 10 and set out to spread the Christmas cheer, door to door, bringing with them gift hampers for each family.
“This initiative is very meaningful as it involved a lot of heart. We didn’t just go through the motion of singing Christmas carols, we stayed to chat with the residents for a while. One or two of the households had a sick family member and we were able to spend some time bringing comfort, just by being there with them,” says Christina Chiang, one of the organizers from the AN Zone.
For members of the JX Zone who visited the Tampines Social Day Care Center for the Elderly, their planning involved games and activities for the elderly. Special thought and care were put into the program line-up and the contents of the Christmas “goody bags” prepared by the 60-strong group.
Eunice, an officer from the center, commented, “I am impressed with the spirit and love shown by this group of people. They brought out the essence of Christmas to the elderly here.”
JX Zone also brought the cheer of Christmas carols to Sin Ming Road, at the lobby of block 26. The block of apartments comprised of families living in one-room HDB flats. “We can never know how far an act of kindness may reach. As we were caroling and giving out Christmas goody bags to children, we stumbled upon a family from Myanmar, who had just arrived in Singapore. The three children were homesick, but the caroling and goody bags definitely brightened up their day,” said Jack Leow of JX Zone. “This area is a much forgotten neighborhood with many ex-drug addicts, mental patients and elderly left on their own. We could see that the residents were very happy to participate in the block party.”
JX Zone plans to return with a follow up visit sometime in the near future.
Helping Oneself Through Helping Others
MY Zone, one of the smaller zones in CHC, embarked on a Weekend of Hope, in a bid to encourage its own members to look outside of the four walls of their own individual lives. “When one is troubled by the situation around you, sometimes the best thing to do is to look beyond your problems and help to meet other people’s needs. Even though it doesn’t erase your problems, it does help you to see that there’s much in life to be thankful for,” said Liang Mei Yan, MY Zone’s supervisor.
The group of 25 visited the Orange Valley Nursing Home in Thomson Road, and put up a brilliant magic show for the elderly. The group also took time to interact and befriend the patrons. According to Liang, MY Zone is the first group to visit the home since the restrictions imposed during the peak of the H1N1 virus.
There was one particular elderly lady who refused to participate in any of the activities organized by the group. It was the Christmas carols that eventually drew her out of her ward and she finally sat down with the group to listen to the performance, much to the surprise of the staff.
MY Zone also brought the Christmas cheer to two other nursing homes as part of their Weekend of Hope project.
When it came to elderly folk, Victor Wong believed that there was nothing like Karaoke to bring in the cheer. Close to 80 members in the VIC Zone brought new towels and other sundry items to the Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home in Thomson Road. After distributing the items, the group performed Christmas carols in Mandarin, Cantonese and Hokkien. True to belief, the elderly folk warmed up immensely to the Karaoke session as the zone members sang and danced together with them.
|PHOTOS: Ivan Loh
Said Wong, “Through our interaction with them, we could see that some of them are very lonely. We want to try our best to connect with them, even if it means speaking in a dialect we are not very familiar with, or simply just singing a song together with them. They really do enjoy that.”
“This simple community exercise has helped us to appreciate the elderly in our own households. All of the zone members have gone back to their own homes, cherishing their grandparents and their own elderly parents even more.”
Something for the Children
At Christmas time, it has to be the children that enjoyed the most. Thirty-five people representing ET Zone shopped for and wrapped up a total of 88 Christmas presents to give out to the children at the Singapore Anglican Community Services (SACS).
The moment the group reached SACS, they were greeted by a crowd of excited children who were anticipating their arrival all morning. Their enthusiasm was engaging as every child participated in the games and activities organized just for them. When it came to a time of caroling, the children sang at the top of their lungs, mimicking the actions to the songs.
“The excitement and energy of these children just amazes me. There is no trace of sadness or self-pity from any one even though they come from challenging backgrounds,” noted Edmund Tay, supervisor of ET Zone. What touched the hearts of the zone members was how the children came up to them to thank them for the Christmas lunch that was catered by the zone.
To the visitors’ surprise, the children had rehearsed for a special item to perform for them. Many truly felt the warmth of the Christmas spirit that day.