Caring for the poor and needy: Wheelchairs for the Jamiyah Nursing Home

Caring for the poor and needy: Wheelchairs for the Jamiyah Nursing Home

On 6 December 2015, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donated $10,000 worth of wheel chairs and gifts to Jamiyah Nursing Home, a facility providing step-down care for patients requiring long-term nursing care. The Honorable Mr S. Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) and Member of Parliament for West Coast GRC, graced a simple ceremony to commemorate the donation. Grassroots leaders from the People’s Association and members of Jamiyah Singapore, and about 30 Church members were in attendance to witness the occasion.

The event was preceded by a carolling session to bring the spirit of Christmas to the many residents of the nursing home. For about an hour, two groups comprising of members and missionaries, moved from room to room of the nursing home to sing Christmas carols and interact with the residents, many of whom suffer from severe physical or mental disabilities and are wheelchair or bed-bound. Some residents have been there for decades, and others have been abandoned by their families. This simple but beautiful gesture brought a wonderful spirit to both visitors and residents. For many residents of the nursing home, it has been a while since they heard singing of any kind. Several residents shed tears of joy while yet others tried to join in the celebration by rising from their nursing beds or swaying their hands to the rhythm. Brother Rico of the Singapore 3rd Ward said that we should do this more often, and that he planned to organize this in his personal capacity as it reminded him of his mother back home.

To provide context as to why our visit was appreciated, Ms Ling Bee Sian, the Director of the Home, said that she previously had to pay for groups to come and entertain the residents. These scarce financial resources, she said, could have been better allocated for the running of the Home. While it’s true that we entertained them for an hour that evening, the reality is that many of us left feeling that we were the real beneficiaries from the experience.

Upon the arrival of Mr Iswaran, the ceremony for the presentation of the wheelchairs commenced. After a short speech in which he touched upon the importance of racial and religious harmony in Singapore, Mr Iswaran oversaw the presentation of a symbolic wheelchair from Bro AC Ho, on behalf of the Church, to Dr Mohammed Hasbi Abu Bakar, President of Jamiyah Singapore. Thereafter, Mr Iswaran spent time speaking to many residents who were present at the ceremony. The Minister also took time to interact with members and missionaries of the Church. In particular, he enquired about the background of various missionaries, their purpose in Singapore and why they chose to go on a mission. He was also interested to know why we were doing this. One of the Elders who spoke at length with the Minister said afterwards that he was totally 'stressed out' and didn't really know how to answer his probing questions. He did well – rest assured - and it will be a memorable part of his mission. The evening concluded with a tea reception in which leaders of the Church had the opportunity to further interact with the Minister as well as other grassroots leaders.

This event, led by the Public Affairs Committee of the Church, was certainly meaningful. This simple act is consistent with the part of the Church's four-fold mission that calls for members “to care for the poor and needy.” It is a tangible opportunity to serve the less fortunate among us, both through service and the donation of essential equipment, while at the same time providing the Church with a platform to collaborate with organizations of different faiths for the betterment of our society. This is not the first time that the Church has worked with Jamiyah Singapore. Our friendship with Jamiyah spans several decades during which time we’ve partnered them (and other religions) on events for the good of the Singapore community, especially those that support the government’s initiatives on inter racial and religious harmony.

By Paul Chan