One year ago, when we celebrated Chinese New Year, we were totally unaware that it would be one of the last times that we would be gathering together in big numbers. Little did we know that we would be celebrating no more festivals for a while after that – because by April we were locked in. It has been a really tough year for the VH members of SAVH – many of whom lost their means of living, or have received drastically reduced income. For that reason, SAVH has started a fund called the LIFE Support Scheme to help everyone with financial difficulties – with the minimum of red-tape. Ask, and you will be given (at least most of the time)! We will have several hundred thousands in this fund – and will raise more money if needed.
The COVID vaccine is now being rolled out. I would be taking my shot when I am offered, and I encourage you to do the same (for your health and the health of those around you). It will be safe, the medical professionals tell us. This mass vaccination programme will be completed hopefully by the end of this year – and will create the conditions for the Singapore economy to re-open. Let us therefore take the vaccine for our own sakes too.
In the years ahead, your Exco will be finding ways to create jobs for the VH. For example, there are plans to start a hawker centre (run by our VH members in partnership with the sighted and aided by robots); an urban farm using technology accessible to the VH; an expansion of our music, Touch Art and massage social enterprises (we will create a full spa experience); and many more initiatives. We are counting on you to support us as we launch these projects. We have proactive Exco members now and we do hope you will vote us all in, of course, to deliver these projects for you.
There are also plans to expand our day care services, low vision clinic, food bank, home care services, social work department – and other services. I am counting on members to come forward to give me ideas on new services to develop and to help deliver the services.This will need a lot of financial, moral and physical support – and you can come on board to help us. You can be volunteers, subcom members and Exco members. The SAVH is your organisation – and your voice. We will work harder to be your advocate with the government and employers, to achieve a world in which there will be no more barriers for the VH.
Whether these ideas will take months or years to execute will depend on your support. We have launched a campaign to recruit more members – and we will be giving $20 vouchers to every new VH member until 31 March. We are especially looking forward to more young people joining us. Stephanie Ow, our youngest Exco member (she is still in her twenties, and a graduate of our Lighthouse School) will help us transform SAVH so that it no longer is known as the “Old People’s Club” by her peers. SAVH must work to groom these young people – for they are our hope for the future.
Chinese New Year is a time for hope. In China, where the festival began, this is called the Spring festival. It is a time of flowers starting to bloom, snow disappearing, the cold weather warming up. Our ancestors would take out all the dried and waxed meat they had kept as winter food – and have a big feast, because winter is over.
Our COVID winter is not yet over, but it will soon be. Let us wish each other a Happy New Year, good health and new dreams for a most OX-picious year! On behalf of the Exco – I wish all members, staff and clients – wanshi ruyi 万事如意 – may everything you do this year be successful!
Dr Toh See Kiat