COVID-19 Will Not Stop International Community Service – Youth Expedition Project Goes Online
1 DECEMBER 2020 – Last year, they built schools, planted trees, and taught English, among other activities in nine countries including Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia and Cambodia. This year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the YMCA of Singapore will continue making an international impact through social service.
In 2019, over 830 YMCA volunteers served over 16,000 beneficiaries through International Service Programmes. To continue these efforts despite travel restrictions, YMCA of Singapore continues as Youth Corps Singapore Youth Expedition Project Programme Funding partner through the Youth Expedition Project Goes Online (YEP-GO) programme.
The inability to travel abroad poses no barrier for youth who want to continue learning and contributing to overseas communities, with YEP-GO pivoting digitally to provide youth with such opportunities amidst COVID-19.
“Despite the global pandemic, we have seen our youth staying resilient, stepping up to meet challenges head on, actively serving the communities and even creating opportunities to help fellow youth learn and thrive along the way. By working with our partners, such as the YMCA of Singapore, the National Youth Council is able to provide youth with volunteering opportunities to continue impacting communities across Asia, from Singapore, without having to travel. The YEP-GO is part of the National Youth Council’s efforts towards developing active global youth citizenry that is leading change, while levelling up our youth’s future-preparedness and growth mindset”, shared Ong Kah Kuang, Executive Director, Youth Corps Singapore.
Over five days in October and November, YMCA has mobilised youth from Singapore Polytechnic, as well as Filipino youth from Hi-Y and College-Y to serve youth in Singapore and Iloilo. Students from the National University of Singapore will also be mobilised in conducting a programme related to COVID-19 awareness in regional countries come December. By March 2021, Youth Corps aims to have seen some 500 youths complete their overseas community service projects.
“YEP-GO has been a journey that challenged my beliefs and assumptions, and allowed me to grow. I learned how global events like COVID-19 can affect different people and countries differently. I have also made friends with the people I have met,” said Zainab Iskandar, a Singapore Polytechnic student.
The youth took part in an online webinar with some 50 youths from Singapore and the Philippines that taught them how to upkeep their mental wellness. They also conducted a virtual tour of Singapore and the Philippines, and enjoyed a cultural exchange session where they taught each other useful phrases in English and Tagalog.
“This has provided everyone an opportunity for growth and for building lasting relationships between the participants. The webinar provided everyone with tools and enhanced everyone’s capacity for learning through its diverse and well-planned programmes,” said Bryn S. Garcia, Facilitator-Participant from the YMCA of Iloilo.
“YEP-GO, a programme of Youth Corps Singapore, conducted in partnership with YMCA of Singapore and YMCA of Iloilo, in collaboration with Singapore Polytechnic, has proven that geographical boundaries cannot hinder young people from reaching out to fellow youths. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and despite differences in culture, traditions, beliefs, languages, standards of living and technological disparities, participants came together for the greater good,” said Eleazar R. Blando, General Secretary, YMCA of Iloilo.
“During these trying times, it may be difficult to see beyond our own challenges to remember that our neighbouring countries may need some support. We hope that through YEP-GO, our youths can continue to be engaged in community service, learn about other countries, and be reminded that we should never stop reaching out to those who need help. We are very grateful and heartened by Youth Corps Singapore for providing this platform to empower these youths,” said Steve Loh, General Secretary & CEO, YMCA of Singapore.
Interested to start your YEP-GO journey with the YMCA now? Scan the QR code to indicate your interest or send your enquiry to YEP_Enquiries@ymca.org.sg