National Day is a day to commemorate how far Singapore has come – from being a small port with little chance of survival to a thriving city-state. National Day serves as a reminder that a place is built by its people, highlighting the essence of what it means to be Singaporean.

2020 has not been without its challenges, given the emergence of COVID-19 and the general elections taking place during this time, yet the Singapore spirit has remained unwavering. This year saw the highest voter turnout since Singapore first achieved its independence in 1965, with as many Singaporeans playing their role to dream for a better Singapore.

The fight against COVID-19 has been courageously fought by frontline health workers, as well as ‘unsung heroes’ who kept Singapore going in these difficult times. Our frontline health workers have been steadfast in treating patients affected by COVID-19 in Singapore, keeping Singapore’s death rates low. When there was a need for more swabbers in migrant dorms, many Singaporeans from all walks of life readily gave their time to help. 

In line with inspiring Singaporeans to take action and support meaningful causes, the National Day Executive Committee came up with the “Our Heart for Singapore” project.  The pledges revolve around the themes of staying united, caring for those in need, active learning, and building a sustainable future. Find out what they represent below.

Appreciate Our Diversity Whilst Staying United

This was the first year that there were no physical rallies for the general elections, allowing the online sphere to take center stage. The internet has become a place where individuals can discuss and share opinions, however some spread hatred when they disagree with the opinion. Instead of an avenue for cyberbullying, the internet can be a place where we empathise with other people’s perspectives and learn to understand opinions and experiences that are different from ours. Through listening and empathising, we cultivate a better understanding of what it means to be Singaporean. This way we can appreciate our diversity in Singapore whilst staying united. 

The arts and heritage sector is an example of how individuals can express themselves freely. Carrying different narratives, art mediums become an opportunity for us to explore perspectives beyond our own. Yet donations in the arts and heritage sector have been dipping, and the sector has been significantly affected by COVID-19. 

Typically, arts and heritage charities thrive through performances to the public. Performances, shows, exhibitions and other arts and cultural events have been cancelled or deferred, leading to a crippling blow to Singapore’s arts companies and artists.

Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) performing in a concert
Above: The COVID-19 situation has caused the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) to cancel at least 20 concerts. SSO is part of the National Arts Council’s campaign “A Covid-19 Rally For Singapore Arts” via Giving.sg.

Whilst some arts and heritage charities have bravely innovated by going online, they continue to need your help. Become a Culture Backer here. In challenging times like these, we need you to support your favourite arts organisations and help keep them afloat.

Be Other-Centred and Care For Others

Singaporeans are known for wanting to be the best, notoriously known for our ‘kiasu’ culture. What if we channelled our pursuit for excellence to go beyond our selfish needs? Imagine how we can build a compassionate and inclusive society if everyone gave their best to care for others. Here are ways we can lend a hand to those around us. 

Households in the lowest 20% of income groups in Singapore have lower income growth in comparison to their expenditure. This leads many to find themselves in chronic debt, which creates an additional psychological burden. Moreover, ongoing financial distress spills over to feelings of loss of control, anxiety and other mental health conditions. 

Nonprofits such as Social Health Growth support such low-income families and vulnerable groups. Their staff and volunteers have been actively helping single parents and low-income families during the COVID-19 period. These vulnerable groups have been significantly affected, with some even losing their jobs. Support Social Health Growth and other similar charities here.

Social Health Growth supporting single parents and low income families with in kind donations
Above: Social Health Growth staff and volunteers actively help single parents and low-income families during the COVID-19 period.

Declining birth rate and increasing life expectancy have led to rapidly ageing populations in countries around the world. Singapore is not exempt from this. 

Today, around 1 in 7 Singaporeans are aged 65 and above. By 2030, this number will rise to 1 in 5, positioning Singapore as a “superaged” country, joining the ranks of Japan, Germany and Italy, among others. This is why it is key to ensure a good quality of life for our silver generation, and ensure our elderly are happy and healthy through social programmes. 

Most people see the world’s ageing population as a problem, but Isaiah Chng, Founder of Empower Ageing, commits to changing what society thinks growing older means through his work. He perceives the key to ageing well as being active and proactive. In relation to that, RSVP engages seniors to volunteer, seeing it as a chance to share their hobbies or skills with others and to find purpose after retirement. Find out other ways to support the elderly here.

3. Encourage Opportunities to Learn

The circuit breaker period was indeed a challenging time, preventing us from going out and conducting our day-to-day activities as we desired. Yet some people turned it into an opportunity! Some used it as a chance to pursue online courses and build future-ready skills, considering the economic uncertainty to come. The government even formed the SGUnited Skills programme, a full-time training programme for adults ranging from 6 to 12 months. It is designed in partnership with the industry to help trainees acquire industry-relevant skills that can improve their employability. 

Encouraging learning opportunities isn’t limited to adults. It is key to ensure education is made accessible to all children regardless of their background. Even a $100 donation can make a huge difference to a child. Help make education accessible.

Make education accessible by providing subsidized tuition fees
Above: According to Children’s Aid Society, tutoring gives a much-needed confidence boost.

Children’s Aid Society’s Melrose Home operated as an essential service during the circuit breaker period in order to safeguard the welfare of children and youth at high risk of abuse. With that, Melrose Home learned to embrace full home-based learning for all children and youth residents. Their art therapists also stepped up therapeutic activities to help residents cope better, and the school holidays became a time for staff to explore creative ways to engage residents for a full month.

4. Build A Sustainable Future

Building a sustainable future in Singapore doesn’t only refer to our environment, but also our healthcare system. Through the COVID-19 period, our hospitals have shown that they are able to cope with an increased inflow of patients. However, not all patients can afford healthcare. This is why Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH)’s Community Fund currently runs the “Helping Needy Elderly Patients” campaign. 

Through donating to the campaign, you support elderly patients with little or no savings. Although there are existing financial assistance schemes, many elderly patients still fall through the cracks. In some cases, they do not have any caregivers to turn to for help. This fundraising campaign eases the financial burdens of needy patients through supporting out-of-pocket expenses such as nutrition, diapers, interim-dialysis, mobility aids, and even dentures.

Tan Tock Seng Hospital's doctor and nurses taking care of the needy elderly during Covid-19
Above: Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s doctors and nurses take care of needy elderly patients.

Last but not least, the most vital key to ensuring a sustainable future in Singapore? Based on Budget 2020, our focus is to reduce our carbon footprint, protect our coasts and secure food sources. 

According to our own research, there is indeed the risk of food insecurity in Singapore. As a country that imports 90% of its food supply, our city-state is at the mercy of various environmental risks that threaten the consistency of our supply from other food-producing countries. You can donate to Garden City Fund’s Botanic Gardens Seed Bank where your donation can improve the variety of food crops.

As consumers, we can do our part by reducing the amount of plastic we use, whether it is using reusable straws or bringing our own bags when grocery shopping. Meanwhile, Waterways Watch Society helps to protect our pristine water bodies. Find out ways you can be an eco-warrior here. 

So, take a leap of faith. Which cause resonates with you the most? Commit to a cause and contribute to a shared future via Giving.sg. You can play your part as a Singaporean to make Singapore a City of Good this National Day!