Saturday, October 10, 2015

A story about tissue paper sellers in Singapore

A reporter from The New Paper is working on a story about tissue paper sellers in Singapore and he posted me the question below:

"Most of the tissue paper sellers in train stations or in hawker centres are unlicensed, and generally they are still allowed to carry on selling without a license by the authorities. While this means that the disabled/elderly can sell their tissue packets easily, it also complicates the issue because that means just about anyone can get to sell. Some are saying that it becomes a sort of glorified way of begging, that there is no way to tell the difference between those who need help and those who are just cashing in on this. There are quite a number of foreigners who are doing this too, and some are concerned that the money isn't going to people who need the help.

As a voluntary welfare organization that helps to provide support for the elderly and the poor, I am keen to find out what Happy People thinks about this. Do you think more can be done so that these people do not have to turn to tissue paper selling to earn money?"

My replies are as follow:

I feel that it's good that the authorities did not impose a need for license for tissue paper sellers as the disabled/elderly can sell their tissue packets easily without any issue. It is definitely a better sight than to see such disabled/elderly begging on the streets, as they are considered making a living for themselves through their own efforts.

Probably one way that the authorities can support the actual people who needs help, is to provide these group of people a special banner/lanyard to indicate that these are the people who really need help and the public should lend a helping hand by buying something from them. Its a better way to indicate the needy rather than imposing a need for license for all, and as for those people who are just cashing in on this, it's up to the individual of the public to exercise the right judgement.

As the founder of Happy People, I think that there is definitely more can be done for these people. Most likely, most tissue sellers have the mindset that they can work as and when they want when they sell tissue, and would prefer a flexible job similar to this if they were to make a switch. Perhaps, government can provide a benefit for employers who specifically hire these people to work. Charity and voluntary welfare organisation can also hire these people to help out in their daily administrative task.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Everything happens for a reason

I believe that everything happens for a reason.

On Wednesday 30 Sept, I was going through my usual day with Elson Soh to meetings and to give blessings around and we prepared goody bags for Children homes in conjunction with upcoming Children Day. I thought I was about to end my day at our final meeting at Jurong Point, when suddenly my phone which I was holding onto drop face down to the floor while I exit from my car. To my horror, my glass panel of my phone shattered to bits and pieces. After ending our meeting, we search online and found a phone repair shop near Boon Lay Drive.

Upon reaching there, it was pure luck that they left the final glass panel for the model of my phone and would take about an hour to fix everything. And so, we walk around the estate looking for a place to settle down. This is when Elson noticed that the surrounding estate look pretty like the olden days where people will gather down stairs and chatted with their friends and families, which is very kampung style. Elson saw there are several estates for the low income families and we decided to take a walk there.

After talking to the families and walking around the block, we chanced upon a very empty house, with only one fan, pillows, no tv, no furniture. We can even hear our echo as we chatted with them. We found out that they had just shifted into this rental flat not more than two weeks. They are trying very hard to save money to buy furniture, cooking equipment, and rations too. But with the father earning $50 a day, it will take them a very long time to be able to lead a normal life.  

Our hearts broke when we hear that they are waiting for the father to come home to buy dinner for them. We immediately bring them out to stock up on food rations at the nearby NTUC. We also brought them dinner, as they didn't eat much since morning, as they can't cook without any cooking equipment, they can't keep any fresh ration without a fridge. While ordering dinner for them at coffeeshop, Elson saw the baby girl staring at one of the customers' food and can tell that she is very very famished. We decided to help them through Project Awareness to render them immediate assistance and to give them basic furniture and cooking equipment so they can lead a more stable life soon.

I'm glad that through my own unfortunate event that I accidentally broke my phone, eventually giving me a chance to helping this family tide through this tough period of their life.

Engaging with Happy People in social change and identifies empathy that can enhance life satisfaction with happiness.

吳錦南 Jacky Goh
Happy People - Make Smiles where we go