By Lim Qiu Ping
An unassuming lady with a passion to make a difference. I spoke to alumna, Chew Lini, a 2015 SUSS graduate in B.A. in Visual Communication with Business after learning about her COVID-19 venture, (perhaps adventure would be a more fitting description) in the TODAY newspaper in February 2020.
The world has been changing since COVID-19 first hit the news late last year and rapidly unleashed its impact across the world, bringing several countries’ economies to a halt. Today, on our little island, people speak of new norms in work, lifestyle and relationships – norms which people still struggle to adjust to with varying degrees of success.
In trying times such as this, positive social agents who rally others for practical and emotional support for the community warm the cockles of our heart. Lini was interviewed for being part of a heartland interest group which had helped place handmade sanitisers in the lifts of the neighbourhood for all to use. To me she has scored two As for her initiative, her Attitude and Action!
This enterprise was, in a sense, incidental. When Lini joined the group called TGPV Super Mummies, it was just a Whatsapp chat group set up to talk about parenting and sharing tips for young school goers. But these 200 and more members heard about the then shortage of hand sanitisers and were galvanised to kickstart a homemade hand sanitiser project for their residents. Operating concertedly, they produced close to five litres of sanitiser per week.
“[People] needs to open up”, Lini explained her personal ethos which led her on this journey of impacting the community, “Be open to help others. See what you can do for the people around you. Do not hoard, stock up and only think about yourself.”
One kind deed opened doors and led to further opportunities. News of the hand sanitizer project spread and Punggol West RC Chairman linked up with Lini to start another project – to sew masks.
However, Lini claimed, “[I] hated needles… it was my first time operating the sewing machine.” But the skill had to be picked up and that was exactly what she hunkered down to do.
The group of 20 volunteers had a trainer from Punggol, Jacqueline, who trained them in sewing the masks, both hand and machine sewn. Morale was high. Some residents even borrowed sewing machines for this project. Recycled fabric, all 100 per cent cotton, were collected for the training. Additionally, donations poured in for the purchase of the fabric. Some 300 masks were sewn for residents of the neighbourhood but subsequently, 3000 to 4000 masks were sewn for people nationwide. The group often worked 3-4 hours a day. It was tiring but that sense of purpose was what sustained them.
“Learning doesn’t stop,” Lini rationalised; it was as simple as that for her. “When you put your heart and mind in helping others, you can do it.”
Inspiration for doing good pervades different spheres of Lini’s life. She works as a marketing manager at Kinderland Educare Services where she became a touchpoint through which members of her workplace could participate in these meaningful activities. Workshops were conducted for the children at Kinderland on making sanitisers and teachers had even been roped in to sew masks.
This ability to reach out to the various communities within Lini’s circle of influence is a shining example of being socially adaptative, cutting across categories – Lini feels that this is precisely how her study experiences at SUSS had benefitted her. “In SUSS, we took up different modules, we met different people,” she reminisced, “It is so dynamic, you get to meet people from different programmes, gain different perspectives, different views… get to adapt to different personalities, worked with different groups. These have helped in my self-growth and development.”
Today, high regard is given to Lini for her service to the community. The greater lesson, however, is her underlying zeal that energised those actions and how it came to be. For it was a spirit shaped through the constant choice of grit and determination, certainly no flash in the pan. She shared about the stresses she had undergone during her studies: getting married, pregnant and even giving birth a day before her final project submission deadline. Despite these, she completed her course in three and a half years, compared to the four years taken by most of her schoolmates.
“It’s all in your mindset,” Lini stated. “With determination and perseverance, you can achieve whatever you have set your mind to.” Certainly an alumnae that epitomises the three Hs of an SUSS graduate, one with Head knowledge, a Heart for the community and the Habit for lifelong learning. Three cheers for Lini!