"Although everyone is affected by this pandemic, there are still many kind-hearted people in the community who are so willing to contribute for a good cause.” said Boh Shu Hui, the Deputy General Manager of Tzu Chi Foundation (Singapore).
Tzu Chi has partnered with IT company, Esse Pi to launch the “Pay It Forward – Empowering Education” fundraising campaign to help provide Chromebook and laptops for schooling children from low-income families.
As the spread of COVID-19 situation became more challenging, the government further tightened its preventive measures to address the situation. Among which, all the classes in primary schools, secondary schools, junior colleges, higher education institutions and special education schools have been shifted to full-time Home-Based Learning (HBL).
Having a computer to study at home may be common for the average Singaporean students, but not every student has such a privilege. According to media reports, after the HBL was implemented for a week, the Ministry of Education found out that there are 10 to 50 students from each school who still need to return to their school to complete their studies and homework. It is believed that these students are from low income families. In view of this, the Government, schools, enterprises and non-governmental organizations have worked closely together to help ensure that all students are able to carry out their HBL smoothly.
On 17 April 2020, Tzu Chi started its donation campaign through Giving.sg and managed to gather more than SGD 80,000 in just four days, exceeding its original target of S$40,000 for 100 laptops.
Boh commented that the overwhelming response from the public over the past few days has been very encouraging. She revealed that the money raised would be used to purchase 170 computers and Chromebooks to be distributed to the children of Tzu Chi’s care recipients, SG Bono beneficiaries and students from Social Service Centre. The remaining funds will also be used to upgrade the network services of some students who do not have good internet access at home.
"It's very heart-warming to see people who have never met each other come together to help those in need at this difficult time,” said the Vice Chairman of SG Bono, Mr Lim, with gratitude.
“Many thanks to Tzu Chi for giving me a laptop for my studies. It was very inconvenient using my handphone to do my homework last time. I will use this laptop to do all my homework and live up to the expectations of Tzu Chi volunteers. Thank you, Tzu Chi," said one of the recipient students who expressed her gratitude through Whatsapp.
A partnership for the best outcome
As global economies are greatly impacted by the pandemic, many countries have launched a series of emergency assistance packages to help families go through this trying period. In Singapore, the government has issued a one-off Solidarity payment of SGD600 for each Singaporean aged 21 and above to help them with their cost of living.
While assistance was provided to needy people, Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Heng Swee Keat also urged people with financial ability to donate to those in need. The CEO of Esse Pi, Lee Sze Chin said that many people have responded to Deputy Prime Minister’s call on social media and started joining force to donate necessities and cash to the needy in the society.
As the CEO of an IT company, Lee revealed that he and Felicia Seah, the Operation Director of Esse Pi, had planned to make good use of their advantage of running an IT company as well as their resources to launch a campaign to raise fund to buy computers for students from low income families.
“I am just doing my bit to let Singaporeans make better use of their 600-dollar Solidarity Payment to help underprivileged students,” said Lee.
Lee later decided to approach Tzu Chi Singapore to initiate an education fund raising campaign. The reason behind Lee’s decision is firstly because Esse Pi is a partner of Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre. Secondly, Tzu Chi is strong in their follow up care after the laptops and Chromebooks are delivered to the underprivileged students.
As many parties are involved in this project including the government agency, charitable organization and private enterprises, Esse Pi played an important role of sourcing whilst coordinating the various parties in this project. Lee opines that the cooperation between institutions from different fields can integrate professional skills and knowledge as well as leverage on each other’s strength as each party has its own unique features and resources. Such cooperation could lead to very remarkable outcome.
Lee also said that in this unprecedented time, besides the economic impact that is clearly visible, those who are marginalized in the society are most impacted. Thankfully, there is still kindness in the society, and that gives us hope and positivity amid a pandemic.