Here are some short stories about working as interpreter in those optional tours (OP Tour). It might only be in either Chinese or English when you read this. But I will add the other language later. Now it’s just about organizing my thoughts.
2018年9月11日 Singapore 新加坡
和當地食物銀行Food From The Heart合作，參觀他們的辦工室與倉庫後，當義工分裝並配送食材到國宅，在新加坡又稱「組屋」，給有需要的人們。你知道嗎？新加坡是沒有所謂遊民，不會在路上看到有人乞討。因為只要你是國人，政府都會保證用優惠的方式讓你有住的地方，但是不代表沒有窮人。這個組織的誕生是與幾家麵包店合作由志工們配送賣不完的點心，為的是讓那些人不需要再擔心下一餐要從哪裡來，讓他們的有限所得能用在其他的地方。而他們幫助的對象也是和我之前當志工的日本東京的食物銀行Second Harvest一樣是由住在當地的外國人發起的機構，都是由政府社工人員調查後認可的需要幫助的家庭。但不一樣的是在東京，去領餐的人們有的西裝筆挺，很多人都有iPhone，會讓人在心裡有疑問，他們真的需要幫助嗎？而這次我們幫助的人，很多是獨居老人或家裡的老小一起住在小小的公寓。從窗戶裡看能看到家裡的全部那樣子的大小，中間可能用個屏風隔開睡覺和客廳的空間。
We visited a local partner, a food bank called “Food From The Heart”. First we were guided through their office and warehouse then started our half day working as volunteers. We helped sorting, packing and delivering those donated food to a nearby social complex. Do you know there is no as such as homeless people in Singapore? You can’t see them on the street like in other countries. This is because for a national in Singapore, the government offers very affordable housing for your first purchase. However, it really doesn’t mean there’re no poor people there. Like Second Harvest, the other food bank I volunteered for in Tokyo, this food bank was also started by foreigners living there. They serve the family with low income, verified by social workers. But what’s different from Tokyo was there were people came to collect food supply in suit and with expensive mobile phones. It makes you wonder, are these people really in need of help. In Singapore, we help elderlies that live alone, sometimes with little kids, in such a tiny space (like just one room in the West or it’s called a studio). You can see all they have from outside the window, perhaps with a divider between the living and sleeping space.
另外有個人不在我們要拜訪的名單上，站在鐵門前，眼睛流血嘴角流著口水，明顯有殘疾， 盯著我們給其他人帶東西 ，我們卻幫不上忙，滿不好意思的。
Here’re few households that we visited.
After ringing the doorbell a few times, a child appeared to be of Indian descent came out of the window and looked at us with his big yet sad eyes. He just stood there in silence. Then grandma came to answer the door.
I also came across a Hokkien-speaking grandma. There’s an instant connection as I could use my grandma’s dialect with her. She invited us to in with such a hospitality but as we were working on schedule, it wasn’t a good idea. She then insisted on going to the refrigerator with her slow but strong body movement to get us three bottles of flavored milk, saying that she only bought it yesterday and that we reminded her of her grandkids. It was tough situation, thinking that we are here to bring her food, and yet we get treated with her drinks?! After consulting with the senior of the organization, everyone agreed that accepting her kindness was the only way and that would make her really happy. So we did it. We left with our thirst quenched and with a warm feeling rippling in our hearts.
Another character that we encountered was not on the list we want to visit. He was just standing in front of the iron gate with red bleeding eyes and saliva dripping from his mouth. He’s clearly impaired. Staring at us bringing things to other people. I wanted to give him some food and have asked the supervisor, yet we couldn’t really help and could only hope that he’s on the list of other organizations to provide more support.
I think this trip is so so meaningful. It is the most authentic Singapore beyond the eyes of tourists. Too bad I forgot to take any picture…