AFTER visiting needy families and spending time with them, students on a leadership camp came up with good suggestions on how to make their lives better that had a human touch, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday.
"Many of the solutions were not about finance, schemes or vouchers... they were really about personal interaction," he said, adding that he was quite impressed with how practical the proposals were.
The 130 students from junior colleges, polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education had been on a trip to Chong Pang in Yishun where they spoke to needy families and cleaned their flats.
It was part of a Singapore Indian Development Association (Sinda) Youth Leaders Seminar.
When they returned to their campsite at Hwa Chong Institution, the problems that the students pointed out included a lack of awareness among their peers about volunteering, and the growing number of lonely old folk.
Things could be improved with mentoring schemes and more frequent visits, the students suggested.
Mr Tharman, who is also the Finance Minister, fielded questions raised by the students.
The dialogue marked the closing of the event, an annual three-day camp held for post-secondary Indian students. The seminar, which started in 2011, is in its fourth year.
The deputy prime minister urged the students to, first, provide emotional support within the family before building ties with the larger Singaporean community.
"It makes people feel better when they are able to help others as well," he said.
Camp participant M. Dhilfer Nisha, 17, who is from Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), said the home visits had been an eye-opener.
"We could converse more readily in Tamil, and the Indian families, some of whom are not proficient in English, could put across their problems to us more accurately."
This article was first published on June 23, 2014.
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