Contributed By Howard Kuay
Emily Teng may be just 22, but the undergraduate who is also a DJ with Mediacorp’s 98.7FM, wants to inspire her generation to be “world change agents.” She believes that everyone can make a difference.
Her movement “Blessings In A Bag” was started in 2007, with a focus to help underprivileged children in Asia.
Here’s how it works: Teng and her friends collect wish lists from orphanages and communities they have chosen to work with. These wish lists contain items that the orphanages urgently need, such as first aid kits, blankets, toys, books and more. Singapore residents who wish to give can donate items at drop-off points located at *Scape Orchard or at Serene Centre along Adam Road.
And if you’re traveling to Siem Reap, Manila (Makati) or Bali, help BIAB by being their “delivery person.” Estimate how much baggage space you can spare, then drop by Serene Centre any Sunday between 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., and BIAB will hand you a couple of donation items to carry with you. When you have reached your travel destination, you can drop off the items at BIAB locations in that city, or bring them directly internato the orphanage and say “hi” to the kids. The worthy cause is a win-win for everyone—not only do the children receive items they need, it helps “tocut the amount of fuel being used, reduce carbon footprints and encourage recycling together with volunteerism.”
Although monetary donations are more than welcome in funding the movement to build ecofriendly children’s homes and villages, Teng and her team have a hope that they will “encourage people to be more conscious about what they are throwing away and to think about whether these items can be recycled and put to better use, thus minimizing wastage.”
|PHOTO COURTESY OF EMILY TENG|
Having spent the first eight years of her life in Jakarta, Indonesia, Teng was exposed to the big disparity of the “have” and “have-nots” in life, mixing with people who live in large, majestic mansions, as well as those deep in poverty.
Teng says her parents always remind her about the blessed life she enjoys. Recounting her childhood, she shares a poignant experience when her mother once asked both she and her sister to give their clothes and toys to their housekeeper’s daughter who was about the same age as them. Well aware that their housekeeper’s family lived in a shack made out of wood and corrugated iron, which was a stark contrast to her comfortable home, Teng and her sister willingly obliged. Since then, the value of giving and the state of poverty in some parts of Asia have weighed heavy on her mind.
Now living in Singapore, Teng observed that Singapore’s society is largely one of consumption. People throw away perfectly good items at an incredible rate. Youth in Singapore are generally well-to-do in terms of material possessions and education. BIAB hopes to direct youth to give back to society, and to realize that any individual can contribute to his community in not just monetary terms, but also through his talents, ideas, time and passion.
Teng hopes people will discover that “it’s not about how much you have in your pockets, but how much you can give with what you have and through who you are as a person.”
Teng has since brought her passion to the corporate world, partnering local and internatotional companies, in putting to better use, things that would otherwise be disposed of, by receiving them as charitable donations and redirecting them to chosen beneficiaries. So far, Singaporean brand, Flesh IMP, has partnered with BIAB to donate all their overruns and unsold clothing for the cause. Footwear brand Crocs has also donated shoes to some of their beneficiaries.
Aside from donation partners, BIAB is constantly on the lookout for logistics, shipping and postal services to collaborate with. BIAB also conducts talks in schools and corporations to increase the awareness of its mission.
Taking things one step further, BIAB will soon launch Blessings In A Bag Merch: merchandise will be put up for sale, in support of the organization’s core mission to support community work in Asia.
So if you’re going on a trip to Cambodia or Indonesia soon, why not drop by BIAB’s collection center and help to carry some items for BIAB along the way during your holiday?
To these children, you’ll be the blessing with the bag.