We’ve all heard it before — save your food, don’t waste it, think of the children in <generic underprivileged country> starving, how could you not finish your rice?
Too often a time these words fall on deaf ears. Yes, we all know about inequality and disparity in the world. We all know there are starving children born into poverty in every corner of the world, yet has that compelled us to ever do anything?
Their worlds are simply too far off from ours, empathy failing to cross oceans and dry tundras to reach our hearts.
Yet in a small hall at St. Joseph’s Institution (International), the Interactors from Singapore sought to do their own little part to change this.
Participating in the annual Stop Hunger Now event, bringing together all the Interact Clubs from Singapore, the combined effort of hundreds of kindred souls helped weigh, pack and box 10,000 packs of dried food to be sent to over 75 countries to feed the needy.
Yes, although packing in an air-conditioned hall might not have the best physical manifestation of what we sought to help, the camaraderie and passion for service that filled the room was prominent to see. Even the presence of MP Tin Pei Ling did not distract the legions of Interactors diligently packing away bags of rice, grains and dried vegetables.
The procedure was simple — put on the hair net, sanitise your hands, and get down to work packing! And of course, for the boys, an additional step of carrying around massive boxes of food for distribution to the packing stations. For the JC2s, the 32nd batch of Interactors, it was a second experience. The same smell of plastic in the air, the same casual conversations with Interactors from ACS, TKGS to name a few.
Yet the output was much more. The cheering of every packing station for every filling of a distribution box, the cameraman’s random appearance every now and then, the constant refills of the depleting boxes of rice were consistent reminders that every little thing we did, every spoon we filled was going a small way in changing someone’s day, filling someone’s stomach, helping them tide through the arduous everydays of their life.
At the very end, with our hands smelling like plastic and our muscles aching from either repetitive scoops or the carrying of boxes, our hearts will be full at the very least. And hopefully, in time to come, their stomachs would be full too.
The constituents of that packet of food were simple, so simple compared to our frequent cravings for KBBQ, buffets and gourmet cuisines.
The first that went in was the rice — the Asian staple, the bedrock of our diet. The white grains of rice that swarmed and swelled in our scooping spoons, the inevitable substrate for the corrosive acids in our stomach. It’s common knowledge that Singapore imports its rice from Thailand, India, Cambodia and the like. Yet this rice we were weighing and packaging would be on a plane back to its home country soon.
It’s a bitter irony of life, that on a land whose people plough the fields and tread the soggy soil with their weathered feet, there are those can count the number of grains of rice in their bowl. Rice which we far too often take for granted, rice we chuck down the bin with ease and convenience, rice which many of us don’t realise — many others lack.
The second was dried vegetables and other grains. The tricolour of the oddly shaped bits and pieces standing out amongst the rice.
Right after, the weighing station beckons, before a quick shot of heat to melt the plastic and seal the bag, ready to be sent out to wherever it needs (and ought) to be.
Not to forget, Stop Hunger Now was a great opportunity for the Interactors across our small island to interconnect, meet each other and just share the spirit of service.
It wasn’t hard to spot Interactors from different schools helping each other and striking up a friendly conversation.
With a common force and goal in helping others around us, the spirit was strengthened that day, a palpable vibe in the air of a community united to do good for this world – be it small or big.
That’s what Interact is all about, really. Yes, we are a school CCA; yes, we are still students bound by the stresses of exams and lectures, still teenagers swayed by the temptations of the world. Yet at its core, Interact is a place for the pure-hearted in all of us to come together, channel the kindred compassionate spirits in all of us, and direct the passion to making change in this society — not just within the Singapore straits but beyond.
Phone Myant Khant, 16S38