In line with Racial Harmony Month in July, COPE organized a Racial Harmony Tour for senior citizens.
Contributed By Wilson Lim
On Jul. 31, 76 senior citizens made their way bright and early to the gathering point of a Racial Harmony Tour organized by COPE. In line with Racial Harmony Month, the aim of the tour was to promote religious sensitivity and appreciation of the different races in Singapore.
The tour brought the elderly to four different places of worship, and for many of the elderly, this was their first time stepping into the worship sanctuary of faiths other than their own.
COPE, which stands for Community Outreach Program for the Elderly, is a service provided by City Harvest Community Services Association for elderly folk, reaching out to 600 households each month in the estates of Old Airport and Toa Payoh. Their activities aim to forge meaningful friendships among the elderly.
The first stop of the tour was the oldest mosque built in Singapore—the Masjid Omar Kampong Melaka Mosque located at Keng Cheow Street. The group was taken on a guided tour around the historic building built in 1820, and learned about the significance aspects of the mosque.
The next stop was Bright Hill Temple or Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery—the first traditional Chinese forest monastery in Singapore. With an area of 80,000 square meters, the elderly were impressed by the grandeur of the temple, particularly, the pagoda with a life-size Buddha statue encircled by 9,999 smaller Buddha figurines. They were also served a vegetarian lunch at the temple.
The tour also brought the group to St Joseph’s Church located along Victoria Street. This is the first Catholic place of worship in Singapore, constructed from 1906 to 1912. The elderly were particularly intrigued by the Gothic-styled structure with its intricate stained glass windows.
|CN PHOTOS: Kenneth Lee|
The last stop on the tour was one of the oldest Sikh institutions in Singapore—the Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha Temple. All visitors entering the temple had to wear a head scarf. Bright orange head scarves were provided by the temple for the tour group. For almost all in the group, this was the first time stepping into a Sikh temple, making it an eye-opening and enriching experience.
The success of the event was expressed by the positive response of the elderly. Koh, a 63-year-old homemaker commented “Once I set foot in the Sikh Temple, I felt very comfortable and peaceful. I found the tour to be well organized and enriching.”
The cultural tour was a fruitful experience that not only benefitted the elderly, but also the 19 COPE volunteers who were there to help out. “It is experiencing first-hand Singapore as a racial, cultural and spiritual melting pot,” said Lim Leong, a COPE volunteer.