Govt to fund volunteer youth corps

SINGAPORE - A volunteer youth corps will be set up to help spur the young to make a bigger difference to Singapore and to the world.

It is for those keen on community service and will be established and funded by the Government.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in announcing the move on Sunday, urged young people to step up: "You are our future. You are idealistic, full of energy and passion. Go forth, change Singapore, change the world, for the better."

The new body will expand opportunities for community service in Singapore for young people, especially students from the Institute of Technical Education, polytechnics and universities.

They may receive funding to start projects and, if necessary, be given time off from school to work full-time on community projects.

Grants will also be available for those who continue to be involved in the projects after graduation.

Young Singaporeans will receive guidance from mentors and be matched to areas where the community's needs are especially critical.

Young people who want to serve abroad can seek aid from the Youth Expedition Project, which will now be part of the new corps. The project, started in 2000, has supported more than 26,000 young people on 1,300 expeditions around Asia.

Among them is Ms Amanda Teng from Singapore Polytechnic, who went with fellow students to Nepal to build a classroom and a water system using rainwater.

"At first, the children looked at us funny because of the way we dressed and how we seemed to be from a different world. But when I was leaving, a 10-year-old boy, Galchen, cried," said the 19-year-old, who was in Nepal for two weeks.

"What I learnt was: the kids there don't have the best things but were very contented. Singaporeans should learn to appreciate better what we have."

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