“One single thing that inspires me continuously is a sincere smile.”
Noi carries an aura that is exuberant of positivity. When asked to describe himself in one sentence, he replies that he’s someone who is surrounded by “awesome people”, attending the “school of life” with a “major in Adulting”. With his bright and cheery attitude, Noi is the Assistant General Secretary (Marketing Communications) of The Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM), a non-profit organization that continuously searches for ways to make Singapore a kinder place for all.
Despite having been in the SKM for many years, one thing that still gets him are sincere smiles. “That singular smile from an individual does a lot for the soul,” Noi says, “and actually drives me and lets us at the SKM know that hey, we can do it ”.
“ He looked really healthy for his age, save the absence of teeth. BUT, that didn’t stop him from flashing the most genuine smile I’ve seen for a long time”
(Noi describes Mr Batu)
He enthusiastically describes how his work life is “wildly different” everyday, ranging from answering media queries to preparing drafts. He occasionally participates in SKM events, from which he excitedly recounts memorable experiences.
During a Seed Kindness Fund event at a Junior College, he met an elderly Indian man called Mr Batu who had a youthful demeanor, rousing laughter with his witty sense of humor and pulling fast ones on unsuspecting individuals. As Noi was leaving, Mr Batu caught up to him while pushing his red bicycle. “Boleh bual melayu kah?” (Can you converse in Malay?) he asked. With that one line, they both started an intimate conversation about their lives. Noi learnt about Mr Batu’s 2 children who were both studying overseas, while he learned about Noi’s work and love life.
Within those few minutes, Noi said that he felt as though he had “just caught up with an old friend.” Before they parted, Mr Batu took out a creased envelope enclosing a pristine Hari Raya card and excitedly gave it to Noi, “You’re a good kid. Find a wife alright? Selamat Hari Raya adek!” As he recounts this, Noi fondly remembers the elderly man’s genuine toothless grin and how they had such a meaningful exchange in broken Malay. It is truly a recounted memory that warms the hearts of those who hear of it.
The Hari Raya card that was given by Mr Batu
With that, Noi encourages other youths to “be sincere”. “Sometimes, we get so jaded with all the negativities around us, that we don’t appreciate the simplest and most basic form of privilege that we already have.” he adds. He suggests that instead of participating the competitive mindset where we compare ourselves with everyone else, a very common behaviour in our Singaporean society, we should compare ourselves to our past selves.
“We may be better off now and by comparing us ‘now’ to ‘before’, we will appreciate the hardships we went through”
However if we are experiencing a downturn, and feel that the universe is against us, we should look forward to a more positive and kinder future to stay optimistic.
Through SKM, Noi also hopes to make locals more tactful and appreciative to those in the service line. “Sure, ‘it’s their job’”, he says, “but looking at it just from that facet of ‘do a good job’ makes us somewhat less human.”
Hearing Noi’s words simply left us feeling happier and carefree, and we hope they have made you feel the same. We shall leave you with a principle that Noi lives by:
“If you’re faced with the option of how to act or react, always choose to be kind.”
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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