Twenty-Nine Willing Hearts: Service in Singapore

By: Joanne Chow

On the second day in Singapore, the contingent arrived early at Willing Hearts, a 100% volunteer-based non-profit organization that cooks meals and provides services to seniors and low income families daily. We were greeted by Michael, who works at the organization as a head chef. He is 66 years old and loves to volunteer. He arrives at the kitchen at 4:30 am every day, his favourite piece of clothing is probably his apron, and he has a great sense of humour. He brought us around the kitchen and introduced us to his team of volunteers. It wasn’t until then that we realized that all the volunteers were just as hardworking and passionate to make a change in the community as Michael, and seeing them cook in the kitchen with their heads down continuously inspired all of us to make the most out of today’s service project. By the end of introductions, we were more than ready to put our hearts out and lend a helping hand to the organization and were prepared to make a difference.

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Today, our contingent was responsible for the following tasks: cook sunny side up eggs, cut sausages and vegetables, deep-fried the fish, prepare the take-out boxes, and clean cookware as well as tidy the medical centre. It was definitely an experience of a lifetime because none of us has worked in such a large kitchen before. Mass cooking for 4,500 people requires gigantic rice cookers that can wash and cook 400 kg of rice at one time. It also requires enormous woks (about 1 metre in diameter) for frying large amounts of food. The kitchen was set up like an assembly line and every volunteer worked non-stop because of the tight schedule. Some of us even lost track of time!

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Michael informed us that on a daily basis, Willing Hearts serves lunch to about 4,500 people. The cheapest protein is eggs, and on average, they use 1,500 eggs. The menu would usually consist of sausages, chicken, fish, nuggets, and vegetables. Each of the meals prepared costs $1.00 SGD – based on the currency exchange today, this is equivalent to $1.00 CDN. The meals are inexpensive to the organization because it is supported by many sponsors and donations. The organization has a community partnership with the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation, which is one of its largest sponsors. In terms of donations, twelve volunteers travel around the city to different bakeries at the end of the day to purchase discounted, unsold bread, and wholesalers often donate produce to the organization. It is no doubt that Willing Hearts is well received by the community as it has many volunteers who wake up to prepare food starting at 5:00 am.

The final part to our service at Willing Hearts was a rewarding lunch. The volunteers are served free lunch – the same lunch that is served to the seniors and low income families. The reason behind this is to gain feedback from the volunteers on the quality of the food. The rule is, if the volunteers do not like the food, chances are the people receiving the meal would not enjoy it as well. If anything is unsatisfactory, the organization and its volunteers will change the menu and make improvements.

Our service project in Singapore has been a meaningful experience for every contingent member, knowing that we have contributed to help provide food for 4,500 people. If you are ever in Singapore and would like to do some volunteering, go to Willing Hearts – they are always welcoming volunteers young and old, local and international, to help out in their kitchen!

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MarkBurge

2 Responses to “Twenty-Nine Willing Hearts: Service in Singapore

  • Bill Chow
    2 years ago

    The Red Iron Chefs of Canada are awesome!!!

    • Mostafa Nejati
      2 years ago

      They are!!! And what a better way of demonstrating the cooking skills than through providing service through Scouting? 🙂

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