Citi-YMCA Youth For Causes participants raise funds for charity at Shell’s Pulau Bukom refinery

This was the first time Citi-YMCA Youth For Causes teams visited the site to set up booths for raising awareness and funds for a variety of social causes.

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Refinery staff get a taste of the herbs on sale at a special awareness and fundraising event at the Shell Pulau Bukom oil refinery put together by six YFC teams.

Nowhere is too far out for Foo Cher Yao and over 20 other intrepid students who travelled to Shell’s Pulau Bukom oil refinery on 27 June to hold an awareness and fundraising drive for causes such as providing care for underprivileged children and animal welfare, as part of the Citi-YMCA Youth for Causes (YFC) programme.

The YFC programme, organised by Citi and the Young Men’s Association of Singapore (YMCA), provides youths aged 15 to 25 with seed funding, training and mentorship for executing self-initiated projects to raise public awareness, funds and mobilise volunteers for Social Service Agencies (SSAs) of their choice.

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Foo Cher Yao (right) and Chevelle Goh (left) of WheelCHAIRITY.

“It is the first time I have come to Pulau Bukom. It is a very refreshing experience. We really didn’t know how the people are like here,” said Foo, of YFC team WheelCHAIRITY, which supports the Kampung Senang Charity and Education Foundation, an SSA serving seniors and other vulnerable groups.

He had expected the workers on the island to be too busy to spend time at their booth but was pleasantly surprised by their enthusiasm.

“They are actually very, very friendly! More than I had expected. They are just very interactive! They took the time to come to our booth, talk to us and get to know more about Kampung Senang,” said Foo.

The ITE College West student added that he the workers were generous and sometimes donated large sums.

“A few of them didn’t want the product. They just went ‘This is for charity? I give $10, $20!’ … they just genuinely wanted to give. It was an eye-opener!”

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A refinery employee shows off his purchase as Tao Shihan (second from right) and her team looks on.

Chua Chu Kang Secondary School’s Tao Shihan, who hails from YFC team Mashi, which supports the Causes for Animals animal welfare organisation, said: “We are very thankful to those who bought our stuff! Some people even let us keep the change!”.

“The workers really gave us their fullest support. When we performed, they also watched,” said Tao, who danced and sang with her teammate to drum up support for their booth, which sold animal-themed merchandise at the refinery’s staff canteen.

 “Today was meaningful and very worthwhile! YFC is tiring but fun. We get to experience a lot of things and step out of our comfort zone,” she said.

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The visit was made possible by the Shell YFC mentors and the Shell staff at the oil refinery.

“We (the Shell YFC mentors) were thinking of ways to raise awareness for these causes and one idea we had was to bring the teams to both Metropolis and Bukom, the two hubs for Shell in Singapore with the biggest number of employees,” said a Shell mentor.

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The mentor explained that a colleague who was asked to help got the refinery’s leadership team involved.

“They were very supportive. They immediately said yes! Attendance was really good. I am relieved that people responded,” the mentor said, describing how many staff members visited the booths after lunch at the canteen.

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Thomas Wong, Deputy General Manager for Pulau Bukom oil refinery (in red) gets a “wefie” with the YFC participants.

The six teams also received a special guest during their visit – Deputy General Manager for Pulau Bukom oil refinery, Thomas Wong.

“I am impressed by the youths and their passion!” said Wong, who took the time to visit the booths and speak with the youths to understand what they had set out to do.

“I didn’t realise there were such unique volunteering opportunities (at the SSAs the teams are supporting). There are a lot of opportunities where all of us can do our part in volunteering. They have planted a seed in me to not just be a bystander but to be a player,” he said.

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All 100 YFC teams will conclude their activities to raise awareness and funds for local SSAs at the end of August. The very best teams will go on to be recognised at the Awards Celebration in November.

Learn more about YFC activities here