Habitat-Barclays Bare Your Sole 2012 attracted over 5,000 kind souls to walk barefoot for the needy.
By Esther Yap
Over 5,000 individuals walked barefoot on a Saturday morning to help raise funds for local and overseas beneficiaries. Beyond enjoying a bit of exercise, they did so in a bid to fight poverty for the less fortunate in the Asia-Pacific region.
The walk, Habitat-Barclays Bare Your Sole 2012, was jointly organized by Habitat for Humanity International and Barclays, a major global financial services provider, at Gardens by the Bay East on Jun. 2. Habitat for Humanity International is a non-profit Christian housing organization with a mission to eliminate poverty housing worldwide by building simple, decent houses. The event was aimed at raising funds to build more homes, and at the same time creating awareness of the fight against poverty.
The event raised over S$300,000.
Suppiah Dhanabalan, former cabinet minister and the current chairman of Temasek Holdings, together with Yong Teck Meng, national director of HFH Singapore and Quek Suan Kiat, country manager of Barclays in Singapore, were present to grace the flag-off.
“The outstanding response we received for this year’s Habitat-Barclays Bare Your Sole allows volunteers to continue their work with the various Habitat for Humanity Singapore projects. The funds raised by today’s participants are huge contribution for our organization. This event will help create greater awareness about what Habitat for Humanity does both in Singapore and across Asia Pacific.” said Yong.
“We walk without shoes to remember people without hope,” he added.
Besides the general participants, who either took a 2.5km or 5km route, six inspirational walkers spurred the event by taking up the challenge of a 100km walk, starting hours before the actual flag-off. Their efforts drew over S$100,000 in donations.
“I feel that it is a great way to inspire people,” said Ong Li Li, 34, a service desk officer. “By walking we can help the less fortunate and also tell others that we can all make a difference. I hope to inspire more people to join in the walk next year for such a good cause.” Ong was one of the six who started her 100km journey on Friday morning.
Another special segment of the fundraiser featured pairs of special Olympians and interns from Barclays who completed the 5km walk.
Zhu Yin Chao, 24, an undergrad intern from the National University of Singapore said, “I have done charity work before but this event has a special significance because I get to learn to communicate with under-privileged children and those with special needs. The feeling is very different and I find it very meaningful.”
Returning from the walk, the charity walkers were entertained by musical and dance performances; stalls were also set up for those who would enjoy a post-walk foot reflexology–services provided by the visually-impaired.
Since 1976, HFH has served more than 500,000 families by welcoming people of all races, religions and nationalities to construct, rehabilitate or preserve homes, by advocating for fair and just housing policies and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions.
Besides conducting special projects in Singapore, HFH Singapore volunteers have also carried out work in places such as Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.