A visit to the Red Cross Home for the Disabled saw several business and working professionals going out of their way to bring comfort and cheer to residents of the home.
Contributed by Charisse Tay
The Christmas@Home party was organized by members of a cell group in City Harvest Church, W201, led by cell group leaders Francis Tay, 49, an associate professor, and Christine Seah, 44, a lawyer. The cell group of close to 30 members, under the pastoral care of district pastor, Goh Yock Kiang, was joined by more than 20 friends and family members who are not from CHC, but took part in the event for a good cause.
The RCHD houses about 97 residents suffering from various disabilities including Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, spastic quadriplegia, muscular dystrophy and epilepsy. RCHD is the only home in Singapore that provides residential care to the severely disabled in Singapore.
The four-hour long party was scheduled around tea-break time for the residents and they were treated to Peanut Soup and Three-Treasures dessert from the famous Stall 72 at Maxwell Food Centre.
The team of volunteers was divided into groups and assigned various tasks. One group was tasked to oversee the distribution of the food, while another group provided physical care for those who needed help to eat. Other groups got into their roles as carollers and went around to the residents spreading Christmas cheer.
For many of the volunteers, it was their first time interacting with physically disabled individuals who were challenged in terms of communication. Recounted Lim Heng Giok, one of the volunteers, “I really had to think creatively and out-of-the-box when it came to communicating with the resident assigned to me.” Lim spotted a beaded cross hanging on the headboard of the resident’s bed and immediately connected with her as they were of the same faith. By the end of the afternoon, Lim had encouraged the resident with a verse from the Bible from Hebrews 13:5, containing the promise that God would never leave nor forsake the believer.
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For other volunteers, the event also provided the opportunity for personal reflection. Christine Tey, a 47-year-old teacher, thoughtfully raised the issue that “the problems the physically challenged individuals face are far more severe and challenging than what we think. Many of them are lonely but they cannot do anything about it. It makes me realize how we sometimes take those we have around us for granted—our family members and friends. We must learn to appreciate what we’ve been blessed with.”
She concluded, “The event has been a great learning experience for all of us. We’ve learned to accept others who are different from us; we’ve learned to give of ourselves and our time; we’ve also learned about teamwork—how each one just needs to do a little and together we can bring happiness to a lot of people.”
For Tey’s husband, Lim Hun Leong, 48, a regional vice president of a company dealing with infrastructure integration services, the visit to the home had given him a new perspective of life. He said, “I am reminded of the importance of being thankful in life. We are very fortunate to have our family with us and live comfortable lives. But for some of the patients here, they cannot live with their family for various reasons. That is why I am very touched by the care-givers and nurses in the home who look after the residents with patience and love, day after day. It has rekindled a sense of compassion for people who are less fortunate than us.”
At the end of the day, the volunteers sat down together to evaluate the event and many shared how the experience touched them deeply. Everyone is now gearing up and looking forward to returning to the home for a Chinese New Year visit in February.