Foo Ci En – Keeping the Family Together
Keeping the Family Together
Foo Ci En
Being a volunteer for nine years is long by any account. But for nineteen-year-old Foo Ci En, that equates to half her lifetime. “When I was in Primary Four, I started going with my parents for their volunteer work every Saturday. I’ve been volunteering since then because of my parents’ influence.” Her parents are Foo Say Thye and …, part of the Sree Narayana Volunteers group.
In fact, the spirit of volunteering forms the very foundation of their family, “My parents met and got married when they were volunteering at the Sree Narayana Mission Home for the Aged Sick,” she reveals. “So, from young I’ve been going with them to the Sree Narayana Mission Home for the Aged Sick. And I really enjoyed it – it’s very meaningful.”
The initial interest instilled in the young and impressionable Ci En could have easily fizzled out as she grew older and developed other pursuits. Instead, her childhood passion for volunteering only strengthened and became more entrenched with maturity and the passage of time. “When I was a young kid I didn’t understand what I was doing – I just followed my parents and felt happy doing it. But now I realise that it helps people and makes their day. And so, I want to continue. I feel the elderly will not enjoy their Saturday if we don’t hold our activities for them. Even on days when I am not well, I will still go down. I feel like it’s a mission that I have to carry out”.
Nowadays, Ci En is a more frequent face than her parents within the SNV group. “I became an active volunteer in 2015 and since my parents started other volunteer groups, I am now more active than my parents at SNV.” She is currently on the SNV Committee, creating more programmes that will bring joy to the elderly residents of the Home, “If you don’t go for one Saturday, the following week the elderly will ask you why you were not there.” Thus, she persists in ensuring that the SNV’s objectives are achieved even when challenges arise, “Passion is needed for volunteer work, passion is important to sustain this – to continue to do this on weekends instead of enjoying the weekend with your family.”
Perhaps, that is why families tend to be get roped into volunteering – it allows them to be together while the volunteers pursue their passion, which happens with a lot of the SNV members. In fact, Ci En’s brother is also part of the SNV Committee and is equally committed as she is. This practice of ‘family volunteers’ holds a deep significance for Ci En, “Parents are imparting values to their children from young when they do this,” she reasons. Ci En’s parents had patiently done that with the two siblings and Ci En hopes to extend the tradition, “I will continue even when I go to University, and after I marry, I will bring my husband along to volunteer and later, my children. We will continue into the third generation.”