CHCSA’s House Of JOY team brought its elderly wards out to enjoy Singapore’s new iconic garden.
By Sandy Poon
Turning into the entrance of the Gardens by the Bay, the group of elderly onboard the bus were filled with curiosity, craning their necks to take their first peek of Singapore’s newest icon.
The House Of JOY, a center for the elderly set up by City Harvest Community Services Association, had organized a day out at GBTB for 175 elderly folks, many of them visiting the gardens for the first time.
This visit was sparked by requests made by the senior citizens from three estates–Pine Close, Toa Payoh and Old Airport Road. Seeing the level of their enthusiasm, the HOJ workers organized this experiential trip, giving these pioneers of Singapore a chance to see the new development of their nation.
“We chartered four buses and nine cars to shuttle them to and from the gardens,” said the event’s organizer. “The purpose of the event was to let them visit the new attractions in Singapore. Especially for the physically-challenged elderly who are wheelchair-bound, this was a rare chance to get out of their neighborhood and see things outside.”
The highlight of the visit was the cool-dry and cool-moist conservatories–Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. Flower Dome is the world’s largest column-less greenhouse and it replicates the climate of Mediterranean regions like South Africa, California and parts of Spain and Italy. It features a collection of plants from deserts all over the world, showcasing the adaptations of plants to dry environments.
The Cloud Forest, on the other hand, housed plant life found between 1,000 to 2,000 meters above sea level, from ravines to mountain-tops. Its main feature is a 35-meter tall mountain that features an indoor waterfall covered in lush vegetation. Many of the elderly took a leisure stroll up to the mountain top and through the walkways to experience and observe the surroundings from a 360-degree view, and take in the beauty of nature. Koh Chue Tee, 72, said that she was stunned by the magnificence of the waterfall.
The kaleidoscope of unique and colorful flowers moved the elderly to action—many of them whipped out their cameras to capture the beauty before their eyes. Tan Suah Ah, 66, said “This is once-in-a-life time experience for me! The flowers are really beautiful!”
After their enjoyable time inside the conservatories, the group sat at the resting area and enjoyed their lunch: specially-prepared Japanese Bento boxes. From the excited chatter that ensued over lunch, it was clear they had a good time. In fact, “quite a number of them have requested to come back here again,” said the organizer.