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27 August 2014

MOMers Making A Difference

27 August 2014

Throughout the year, MOM officers, also affectionately known as MOMers, organise various Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives for causes that are close to our hearts. For this story, we took the opportunity to interview MOM’s Community and Environment Outreach Committee (CEOC) to find out more about the CSR activities planned and the challenges they face. Despite all the hard work that the committee had put in to organise these activities, they told us that they have never been disappointed by the response from MOMers who have always shown enthusiasm and passion in giving their time and effort to participate in the programmes and help those in need, no matter how busy their work schedules are.

In the past few years, CEOC has also tried to expand the reach of their programmes, which include an International Coastal Clean-up, and an internal CSR Bazaar to encourage more partnerships between voluntary welfare organisations and MOMers. To give you the scoop on our recent CSR efforts, we spoke to MOM officer Lee Juli who was part of the team that spearheaded the “Look Good, Feel Good” project, and Azlinah, who was part of the International Coastal Cleanup team.

Look Good, Feel Good

Starting a new job is not easy, especially if you are a stay-at-home mother planning to rejoin the workforce. That’s why MOMers started the “Look Good, Feel Good” programme to prepare 20 stay-at-home mothers for a smooth transition into the working world. The programme featured a grooming course and sharing by the Workforce Development Agency on available training courses and jobs, as well as a presentation on employment rights by MOMers from the WorkRight Programme Office.

While the mothers were picking up essential career tips during the programme, 17 MOMers spent the day entertaining their children. “Alternative childcare arrangements are not always within everyone’s reach, and we wanted to remove that burden from these mothers, so that they would be able to learn with a peace of mind,” explained Juli, who was also in charge of organising this event.

Work Life Balance
The children went wild at the indoor playground, under the careful supervision of MOM volunteers.

Accompanied by our MOM volunteers, the children spent the morning at the park getting to know one another through fun games and activities. Then it was off to McDonald’s for a lunch treat, before heading for a second round of fun at the Kids AMAZE indoor playground at SAFRA Jurong. Needless to say, most fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion on the ride home, their bags filled with Happy Meal toys and leftover french fries they intended to share with their siblings at home.

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 “Smile, stand tall and own it!” The mothers pick up tips on looking their best during their job search. 

The mothers too had a good time. “I benefitted most from the segments on interview etiquette and the online job search. I also liked the segments on make-up and dress sense, and I learnt that first impression is very important. I will be keen to attend more of such workshops in future!” said Mrs K, a participant of the programme.

At the end of the day, the MOM volunteers were just glad to have had the opportunity to help those in need. “The main objective was for the mothers to be better equipped to rejoin the labour force. Being able to give their children a fun-filled day was icing on the cake,” said Juli, with a smile.

International Coastal Cleanup

“Guess what the most common item was that we found during our coastal cleanup?” quipped Azlinah.

“Bottles or plastic bags?” we replied, based on our hunch.

“Close! It’s actually foam pieces, although bottles and plastic pieces were the next two most common items found during the cleanup.”

Azlinah was one of the 51 MOM volunteers who were part of the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (ICCS) movement last year. The activity, coordinated by volunteers of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research of the National University of Singapore, saw MOMers not just clearing trash but also collecting data to help them better understand the nature of trash found. The data is organised, analysed and published in a report to raise awareness and create solutions to reduce our negative impact on marine life.

Describing to us how the trip went, Azlinah said that they had to take a long boat ride to Pulau Ubin Jetty before hopping into a van to get to Chek Jawa wetlands. Upon reaching Chek Jawa, the volunteers were split into groups and were given essential cleanup tools such as gloves and plastic bags before embarking on their coastal cleaning adventure.

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MOMers working together to clean up the coastal area of Chek Jawa.

“During the cleanup, the teams collected trash in teams. Each team selected one person to take on the role of a data recorder to collect information of the items collected. It was not easy working under the hot sun and wet conditions, but many volunteers went to great lengths to extract trash – even those that were buried deep inside the soil.”

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The volunteers formed human chains to transport the bags of trash.

“As the tides rose, we then formed human chains to transport the bags of trash from the coastal site to the trash collection point at higher ground. At the collection site, everyone was amazed at the variety of trash collected! We found the most unexpected items such as barrels, tyres and even car seats! How did these things end up at Chek Jawa?”

“But overall, it was a really enriching experience. In fact, some MOMers even brought their kids along to teach them the importance of protecting the environment.”

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The amount of rubbish collected at the end of the day was mind-blowing!

Thankfully, taking part in the ICCS movement isn’t the only way you can save the earth. “Marine trash travels farther and wider than you can imagine. Everyone can play their part by using fewer disposable products, reusing and recycling, and disposing of trash properly,” shared Azlinah.

Azlinah isn’t the only enlightened MOMer. Since 2011, CEOC has been organising the “One Tab, One Hope” project to collect ring tabs from aluminium cans. These ring tabs are then melted down and made into prosthetic legs. It takes 3,000 ring tabs (roughly 1kg) to make one pair of prosthetic legs, but what do we do with the rest of the can? No worries, we have recycling bins placed all over the MOM premises to remind and encourage MOMers to dispose their metal cans the right way!

At the end of the day, some of you may be asking: How much difference can just one person make?

“It all has to start with you. Individually, our efforts might seem small, but the coastal cleanup really opened my eyes. It was just mind-blowing how much trash was picked up by our 50 volunteers in just an hour. A whopping 258kg of rubbish! So while we can’t change things overnight, I think that through public education and leading by example, we can make a difference to the environment,” said Azlinah, with conviction. 

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