Festive goodies for Tanjong Pagar’s elderly residents

Festive goodies for Tanjong Pagar’s elderly residents
Senior Minister of State for Law and Education Indranee Rajah distributing the Sarees and Sarongs.

SINGAPORE - Shortly after 6pm on Dec 22, about 100 eager elderly Indian residents gathered at the Bukit Merah View Square.

They were there to enjoy a free screening of Saraswati Sabatham, a 1966 Tamil movie starring the late Sivaji Ganesan.

The movie screening project, called Silver Screen under the Stars, was organised by Tanglin-Cairnhill's Community Arts and Culture Club (CACC), for elderly residents with low income belonging to Tanjong Pagar GRC and Radin Mas SMC.

Said the vice-chairperson of Tanglin-Cairnhill CACC Evelyn Ang: "We organise four movie screenings in a year and we try to cater to the different racial groups each time."

The elderly who came for the movie were presented with new saris and sarongs.

Senior Minister of State for Law and Education Indranee Rajah, who is the grassroots adviser for Tanjong Pagar GRC, had proposed the idea of getting new saris and sarongs for the elderly residents.

Said Ms Indranee: "I had noticed at the recent Deepavali event that a number of the elderly Indian residents had been wearing the same saris and clothes for a number of years. I reckoned that they could not afford new clothes and thought it would be a good gesture to present some new clothes to them."

The new clothes were sponsored by BridgeAble, a Singapore consulting company focused on social impact solutions.

The co-founders of BridgeAble, Ms Damayanti Shahani and Ms Ramya Nageswaran, were present along with the main donors for the event, Mr Balwant Jain and Ms Sangita Jain, directors of Optimum Solutions.

Ms Shahani, a permanent resident since January 2011, and Ms Nageswaran, a Singapore citizen since 2011, stated that although BridgeAble was set up only in March 2013, they have been actively participating in events supporting social causes for many years.

Said Ms Indranee: "When I approached BridgeAble for sponsorship of this event, they readily accepted the offer. That's the kind of community that we want to have - a community that looks after one another, looks out for each other and helps one another."

Ms Jain, a permanent resident for 17 years and originally from Rajasthan, said: "Singapore has been great to us. We just wanted to do something in return for the people here, in whatever ways we could. This event gave us a great opportunity to give back to the community and share love and joy."

When asked what made her support the idea of screening a movie in an open space, Ms Indranee said: "I have always wanted to do this for the residents.

In the old days, movies were screened in the open air.

I wanted to bring back the sense of nostalgia to the elderly residents."

She added that they were planning on screening a Malay movie directed by P. Ramlee next year.

Those who came for the screening were happy.

Said Mr Veerasamy Amikapathy, 58: "I am very thankful to Ms Indranee and the organisers. I am sure all of us will enjoy this movie."

Another resident, 82-year-old Govindamal Mariappan who lives alone in a one-room apartment near Bukit Merah View Square, said: "New movies are different from the old ones and we elderly people are unable to understand or relate to the new movies. It is very thoughtful of the organisers to have chosen this movie. That being said, even if they were screening a new movie, all of us would have still turned up, because we do not go out much since we are old and living alone. This is a great opportunity for us to meet others like us and have a good time."

Her views were shared by Ms Satasivam Amurutham, who added: "This movie portrays a mythical story that teaches various moral values. The younger generation can learn a lot from it, such as the importance of education and being emotionally strong."

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