When Alexis, Lynette and Rongtin had to think of the issues plaguing the community for their school Community Leadership Project (CLP) initiation, their hawker centre hangout came to mind – but this time, not quite for the mouth-watering food. “The Tray Return” Project is a community inspired project led by the 3 passionate students aimed to encourage patrons to return their tray in hawker centres.
“Most of the cleaners are elderly whom are around the age of our grandparents. It is really heartbreaking to see that they still have to work so hard and so long just to earn some money.” – Rongtin
In the Western countries like the United States or Japan, tray returning is an act almost ingrained into the lives of their citizens. Alexis and Lynette, in particular, feel that this civic-mindedness can be nurtured as habit in Singaporeans too, not only to alleviate a cleaner’s duty, but also to inculcate a sense of ownership towards their environment. We can’t help but agree. We often have a soft spot for older folks or other people in a less advantaged position. Looking at this in a day-to-day living context, a sense of empathy can definitely bolster our efforts in making the community we live in a better place. Alexis, Lynette and Rongtin’s efforts is a perfect example of a simple act of kindness that can go a long way.
We sat down with the 3 girls and were humbled by their consideration and spirit of collectiveness to make a change in the lives of the cleaners. This strong sense of empathy coupled with their persistence in making a change in society is indeed admirable. However as we expected, it didn’t come easy for them.
Did you face any stumbling blocks when you approached fellow Singaporeans to return their trays, flashmob-style?
Lynette: While pasting the stickers on the hawker centre tables, some patrons told us that our stickers “will not have any effects”. For a moment, this discouraged me… but then I thought, this is precisely why I needed to do it! I became even more encouraged after that. It’s all about being more resilient when faced with challenges.
How can one make a difference in society?
Alexis: Search for something you feel for, then be brave and bold to make a change in your society. As long as you have the passion to serve and to help, it is always possible to make a change. People will also definitely guide you along the journey!
Lynette: Find an issue you care for and do something about it. There are so, so many resources out there (funds, mentors, organisations, etc.) that can help you along the way!
RongTin: I’m no hero, but I’d tell others – if they have the ability to make someone happier even in the smallest way, then why don’t we do it?
Truly quite a inspiring bunch, these girls have not just moved trays, but our hearts too!
Check out the video below!
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Everyday Heroes is an online series that captures stories of youths creating impact and embracing possibilities to build a more positive community in Singapore. Most importantly, they help stand as positive reminders that doing good doesn’t have to look a certain way!
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