Charity project wants to bring joy to socially isolated seniors with donated MP3 players

PHOTO: Shoppee screengrab

It’s no secret that one of the worst-impacted groups of society during the Covid-19 outbreak is the elderly, especially the ones who live by themselves.

No longer allowed to socialise with friends and spend time outdoors during the circuit breaker period, the emotional and mental toll of staying at home 24/7 can be devastating. It’s no wonder some seniors continue to wander out and loiter in public to escape the crushing boredom of social isolation. 

A new charity project intends to bring some joy to these elderly folk (and also to help them stay indoors) through the power of digital music players. In the age of music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music on our smartphones, we’re well past the need for MP3 players and dinky portable radios — so why not donate them to those who can cherish the old-school melodies? 

Project Audible Cheer aims to gift needy seniors with portable radio sets that can also play MP3 tunes. You don’t even have to download the songs as volunteers involved will help preload the memory cards with various oldies in different languages. 

“We hope the sounds of voices on radio or songs of yesterdays can bring them some comfort and joy,” noted campaign founder Skye Yeo about the initiative, which now counts social service agency Lions Befrienders as collaborators. 

PHOTO: Skye Yeo

“[Circuit Breaker] restrictions have affected the needy elderly both physically and psychologically,” remarked Yeo. “These elderly are too poor to own mobile phones or digital TVs, or they may be immobile. As volunteer events have been cancelled, many lack human connection.” 

"They have nowhere to go for games and activities, and they miss the gatherings and interaction with students, staff, and their peers at the centres", noted Anthony Tay, chairman of Lions Befrienders.

PHOTO: Skye Yeo

Project Audible Cheer now aims to assist more than 3,000 at-risk elderlies with a target to accumulate $70,000 in donations. One way for folks to help is by donating money to the campaign so the team can purchase radios, SD cards, and USB chargers. Each unit will be distributed to the needy who are already receiving food aid. 

The second means of helping is by donating new or used MP3-enabled radios, which volunteers will help to distribute. 

PHOTO: Skye Yeo

Since the start of the circuit breaker earlier this month, the safe distancing measures have been roundly ignored by some elderly residents. Despite warnings by patrolling enforcement officers, they’ve been defiantly eating at hawker centres and congregate together at public areas to drink, smoke and gamble openly

Instead of brute force, some experts and netizens are calling for other ways to engage with the older generation during the circuit breaker. A widely shared Facebook post pleads for enforcers to show some patience and compassion when interacting with the elderly who aren’t adhering to the rules. 

For the latest updates on the coronavirus, visit here.

ilyas@asiaone.com