A Walk of Solidarity
Global recession has hit the earth like a vengeful comet. Being the most adaptable creatures of this planet, we survive through our strength of body and mind yet not all of us have been so lucky. Many have been hit hard becoming jobless or losing everything in small business. In Singapore, most of the affected people have been helped by the government in one way or the other - either by being provided with some kind of subsidy or some fund raising activity that has helped people survive.
In all the townships of Singapore, there are residents' community clubs that arrange charitable events. A month back from now, all community clubs came to a decision to contribute towards our recession-hit fellow citizens. To launch a fund-raising brisk walk by the residents of the community club was the final and undisputed decision. We were fortunate to have the Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong as a guest of honour among us who joined us in our noble mission.
On a warm Saturday afternoon of May 23, we assembled at the bus pickup point from where we drove to Kallang Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) station and were warmly welcomed by other members who came to join from different areas. About 7,000 people joined us. As the whistle hooted at 6:45pm we enthusiastically started our brisk walk towards Marina Bay. It was a 2.33km walk which took us 30 to 45minutes to reach our destination. As we walked, we passed through many condominiums and a sanctuary, and there were a number of water- fountains from which the flowing crystal- clear water soothed our sights, on a warm May evening. Chanting slogans or carrying banners for a happy endeavour like this are banned here, therefore it looked like a silent procession of happy go-lucky yet promising walkers; the only noise which broke the silence was coming from the people conversing with each other and the traffic. Sometimes, we were stopped so as not to discourage the free-flow of traffic but that too was an enjoyable experience, as the people driving waved their hands towards us in admiration; we could see many faces from the windows of the houses, it seemed that even if they could not join us physically yet they were with us wholeheartedly. Ushers guided us throughout the way so none of us would drift aside mistakenly. At about 7:30 pm, we reached Marina Bay golf club, the place renowned for its reservoir of drinking water that quenches the thirst of the 4million and participates in all activities relating to water; organisers welcomed us and handed us our packet-dinners, desserts and water-bottles; having our hands full, we moved towards the golf ground which was transformed into a temporary drive-in theatre with large TV screens and a picnic spot. With our mats laid on the grass, we could feel the ravenous hunger and therefore devoured our delicacies and quenched our thirst in no time at all. Time and again, the host of the show introduced the sponsors of the fund-raising event, personal contributors and the artists who were performing a concert. The 70s song 'You to Me are Everything' gave a very special message that we wanted to dedicate to our less fortunate brothers and sisters in our walk.
It was becoming dark and the sun had already put on its blanket for a long 12 hour sleep; Nature paid her tribute by fanning our faces with her refreshingly cool breeze. We felt really happy to have performed a great task in a simple way. Amidst loud applause, the host confirmed that we had raised two million Singapore dollars which would help support our recession -hit brothers and sisters and their families.
At 8:30pm our buses arrived and we made our way towards the pickup point where the shuttle bus took us to Kallang MRT once again; from there, we were driven to our area in Jelapang at 9:30pm.
We learn a new lesson every single day. Amidst the endless sprawl of skyscrapers and its endless miles of shopping malls, the once third world country has emerged into the queue of first world countries today. Yet, the feeling of brotherhood kindles emotions as it did even a thousand years ago. Brothers and sisters are working to help their siblings for the cause of survival and that too in such a praiseworthy way. The brisk-walk was held under the banner of May Day Solidarity Walk and what better way to show solidarity?
Nasreen Taher is a contributor who lives in Singapore
(R) thedailystar.net 2009