09 Jul 2017

Volunteers Vital to Keeping Communities Connected: DPM Tharman


Press Release
For Immediate Release
Dated: 9 July 2016


SINDA honours 137 long-service volunteers for their dedication and contribution

9 July 2016 – To appreciate volunteers who dedicatedly contributed their time and efforts towards bettering the Indian community, the Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA) hosted a Volunteers’ Recognition Ceremony at the Royal Palm Hotel earlier this morning. The event was attended by 200 volunteers, guests and community leaders, including SINDA President Ms Indranee Rajah.

In its tenth edition this year, the biennial ceremony honoured 137 volunteers aged between 11 to 68 for their service, across seven categories. This year also saw the introduction of a new award–the Sub-committee / Resource Panel Award. This award recognises professionals who serve in various committees at SINDA to lend their expertise, knowledge and advice to the organisation, including in areas such as education, youth, family, community and infrastructure.

Guest-of-Honour, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of SINDA, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam commended the efforts of volunteers, adding that “there are many new schemes in place for our people, but there’s nothing like person to person interaction involving role models and heartfelt relationships to bring communities together.”

DPM Tharman emphasised that volunteering should be a joint and collaborative approach towards keep the various communities connected, adding that “volunteers should work with other communities, especially with the children from other communities so that there is a sense of satisfaction in a Singaporean way. It will help build up the Singapore community. When we volunteer and when we organise programmes to reach out, we have to find ways of doing it in a multicultural setting, as much as possible.”

Noting the various areas that SINDA volunteers currently contribute towards, DPM Tharman also highlighted the importance of assisting young families from the start, including helping young mothers from onset, so that their newborns will have a good headstart in life.

In the recent years, SINDA has also seen more youths taking to active volunteerism and greater community involvement. These volunteers comprise many past participants of SINDA youth programmes, who have returned to share their knowledge and mentor or coach junior participants. Close to 40 awards were presented to youth volunteers at the ceremony for volunteering for at least two years.

A key platform for such youth volunteers to meaningfully engage in, is the SINDA Youth Leaders Seminar (SYLS), where participants undertake a service-learning project. Through this, they visit underprivileged housing estates to spruce up their homes, distribute household essentials and interact with residents to better understand their needs. Projects such as these have allowed youth to develop their empathy towards the less privileged in the community and better understand social concerns.

One of these youth volunteers is 23-year old Santhiran Ezhavarasan who joined SYLS 2013 as a participant and has been an organiser of the service learning project ever since. He shared: “A small act like cleaning their homes and showing care and concern goes a long way in making their lives more upbeat. My experience has ignited a spark in me to do more of such meaningful work for the community. Seeing the smiles on the faces of these beneficiaries is one of the reasons which keep me wanting to do as much as I can. In the coming years, I look forward to do more for the Indian community”.

SINDA’s volunteers come from all walks of life. Mr Alagappan Arunasalam is a lawyer who has been offering free legal advice to low-income families at the SINDA Family Service Centre. He shared “I realised Singaporeans were not familiar with the law and when confronted with personal and family problems, they could be lost. As the cost of legal advice can be high and not all can afford that, I wanted to help those in need by providing free legal advice to them on a pro-bono basis. It very heartening to see Indian families benefit from his advice and leave each session with a greater sense of direction.”

SINDA volunteers have contributed and impacted the lives of beneficiaries and are at the heart of many integral SINDA programmes: inculcating the love for reading among pre-schoolers, mentoring youths towards greater achievements, visiting homes to provide students with free tuition, imparting IT skills, conducting door-knocking exercises and distributing gift hampers during festive seasons.

SINDA CEO, Mr K Barathan lauded the volunteers and shared: “We are in the business of uplifting the community, of giving hope when none exists and of lighting the path for our fellowmen, when their world is engulfed in darkness. And our volunteers enable us to do this work successfully and with impact.

He also encouraged those present to continue their voluntary work, adding that “everyone has something special to offer and volunteering would be a great opportunity to see more individuals come together and work towards more positive outcomes for the community as a whole”.


About the Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA)

The Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA) is a Self-Help Group, set up in August 1991 to address educational and socio-economic issues facing the Indian community in Singapore. Its key areas of focus are education, youth aspirations, family resilience, social assistance and forging meaning community partnerships.

SINDA actively strives to build a well-educated and confident community of Indians that stands together with the other communities, in contributing to the progress of multi-racial Singapore. In the course of fulfilling its objectives, SINDA works closely with many volunteers, schools and grassroots organisations. In the process, SINDA has steadily evolved into a credible organisation that serves as a pillar of the Singapore Indian community.

Today, SINDA runs a wide array of programmes that not only uplift the educational performance of Indian students, but also promote family harmony and uplift the social status of ethnic Indians.

Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, is Chairman of SINDA’s Board of Trustees. Ms Indranee Thurai Rajah, Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance, is President of the Executive Committee.

For more information on SINDA, visit the website – www.sinda.org.sg


Press Enquiries:

Priyaa Vasudevan                                                             

Executive, CMC
DID: 6393 7228
Mobile: 9169 1532 priyaa@sinda.org.sg


Naseema  Begum                                                          

Senior Executive, CMC
DID: 6393 7269
Mobile:9726 1938