This Deepavali season, Lighting Hearts Lighting Homes (LHLH) reached out to 700 families, specifically those living in 1- to 3-room flats, of which a significant proportion are seniors. This has enabled the outreach to be focused on vulnerable groups that need support, especially in the pandemic.
Despite everyone’s difficulties during this tough period, they rallied around us, and the power of the community was evident. Thanks to support from donors, sponsors and around 70 volunteer home-based bakers, we were able to secure $100 in cash, $30 supermarket vouchers (sponsored by Ramakrishna Mission), chocolate chip cookies, murukku and sweets for each of the festive packs.
I first heard about LHLH this year. It made me think about how, while I am able to celebrate Deepavali with my family and indulge in mirthful festive preparations every year, this was unfortunately not a privilege that everyone enjoyed. Moreover, as COVID-19 has exacerbated the difficulties of many in our society, with many having lost their jobs, especially those from underprivileged homes, this was a particularly important year to support the cause. Hence, I joined LHLH in the hopes of making the celebrations more meaningful for the families in our midst who may have difficulties.
This year, due to COVID-19, sticking to the usual operations was rather difficult. LHLH’s volunteers were unable to go door-to-door to our beneficiaries to deliver the festive packs in view of the risks of getting infected. This meant that the number of people involved was significantly reduced which left the regulars of LHLH, and me, disappointed. However, this also reminded us that the importance of the initiative was not diminished by the smaller number of people involved. In fact, due to the more focused outreach, I felt that we were able to make a more significant impact, with festive items specifically curated for our target group.
Many of the bakers were of other ethnicities and for them to help out for a festival they may not even celebrate was really special.”
I was also especially inspired by our home-bakers, who truly embodied what it meant to bake from the heart. I saw messages in our WhatsApp group daily about where to source quality ingredients, highlighting their resourcefulness, as well as a myriad of tips to ensure that all our cookies turned out perfect. Besides the cookies, the bakers went above and beyond to decorate the bottles as well. It was remarkable to witness people taking so much pride and effort in baking cookies for complete strangers. It is also notable that many of the bakers were of other ethnicities and for them to help out for a festival they may not even celebrate was really special.
Finally, it was a wonderful experience working with the other LHLH team members and volunteers. Although we have varied backgrounds, our common interests and goals spurred us to work on the initiative even after long days at work and on weekends; they reminded me that volunteering is more heart work than hard work. I am extremely grateful to be a part of an initiative that puts a smile on our fellow Singaporeans’ faces when the circumstances of their reality can sometimes make it difficult for them to do so.
About Lighting Hearts Lighting Homes
Lighting Hearts Lighting Homes (LHLH) was started in 2013 with the intent of bringing festive cheer to needy families during Deepavali. Since our inception, including our efforts for 2021, LHLH’s 9th instalment, we have raised an estimated S$1.15 million for beneficiaries.
Ahalya is a Secondary School teacher. She hopes to continue to contribute in the small ways she can by volunteering outside of work.
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