Feature Article: Caring for the Homeless Amidst Hard Times
This article was originally posted in our December 2020 Word@Work.
“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” — Acts 20:35
With the outbreak of COVID-19 and the resulting economic fallout, many have had to face unforeseen challenges. Amidst these trying times, the homeless are left especially vulnerable, as they lack the necessary resources to protect themselves.
According to figures from the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), there are about 300-385 rough sleepers who have received help from the government each year between 2016 to 2018. SowCare complements existing government efforts to help these individuals, who have little to no resources to support themselves, especially in these unprecedented times.
To that end, as a core partner of Hope Initiative Alliance (HIA), SowCare is supporting The Innkeeper’s Project—organised by New Hope Community Services and HIA—to show holistic care for the homeless. Through the generosity of our partners and donors—such as CDC Funds, SG Strong, and OSCAR@SG Fund—we have managed to provide various essential items such as floor mats, foldable tables and reusable masks to support the needs of almost 260 rough sleepers.
SowCare has also collaborated with MSF to set up the Safe Sound Sleeping Places (S3P) initiative for the rough sleepers.
Our various partners in this S3P initiative conduct routine visits to S3P@Bible House. On 11 September, EcoLab and Singapore Youth for Christ visited S3P@Bible House. EcoLab donated $5,000 and 10 care packs to the rough sleepers residing at S3P@Bible House. Representatives from EcoLab were given a tour of S3P@Bible House. Mr Surachet Tanwongsval, Vice President and General Manager of EcoLab, commended SowCare’s efforts in caring for the homeless: “It was a humbling experience for me as I always thought that there’s no homelessness in Singapore. Going to SowCare showed that there’s a lot of less unfortunate Singaporeans that greatly benefit from the work they’ve done, in a short amount of time. I’d like SowCare to keep up this effort.”
After visiting the Bible House, Ms Irene Nah, one of the staff members of EcoLab, also commented, “It was an eye-opener for me too. The organisation has it well planned, including facilities for their daily routine and necessities. They were also well prepared on the COVID-19 measures, practising safe distancing and temperature taking.”
Aside from EcoLab, the Singapore Youth for Christ also collaborated with SowCare to organise a Mid-Autumn Celebration for the individuals residing at S3P@Bible House on 11 September. The evening’s programme consisted of dinner and an art and craft session, where each participant was given the opportunity to make their own lanterns. A mooncake and tea appreciation session was also held for volunteers to engage in a time of fellowship with them and to bring them some cheer.
In the hope of bringing light into these dark times, on 14 and 15 October 2020, SowCare organised a special Zoom meeting with the MSF. The purpose of the meeting was to encourage churches to open their doors to the homeless.
In line with our partnership with MSF, SowCare is working with MSF and the Singapore Land Authority to secure a suitable site for a shelter for rough sleepers.
On behalf of the beneficiaries, we would like to thank all our supporting donors and partners for their generous donations and express our deep gratitude to our volunteers who have helped in various capacities.
As a Body of Christ, let us continue to assist the needy in these challenging times. As Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matt 25:40). While we ponder Jesus’ words, let us remember that we are doing it for Christ and readily render help to those in need.