By Stacey Lim
Inspired by a student who had to live with a weekly budget of $10, Mr Jon Tan, Senior Lecturer at the School of Design & Environment, 53, proposed the idea for the Fast a Meal campaign as part of Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s SG50 celebrations.
The main organiser of the campaign says, “I suggested this idea as I was in Laos on a Youth Expedition Trip some years back to encourage the students to give to the poor kids. I proposed that they skip a meal and contribute that particular meal’s savings towards blessing these children.”
The Fast a Meal campaign ran on an honest system by trusting its participants to skip a meal for both the charity and hunger experience. Light refreshments such as packets of Milo were provided for donors.
“Our aim is to raise awareness of the need to give back to society, especially to our founding fathers, who have contributed to nation building. In this SG50 year, we must not forget the people who contributed to our success and good lives. It is also important that we raise the young generation to take care of their peers who are struggling as ‘everyone matters’,” Mr Tan says, referring to a quote by Dr Tony Tan, Singapore’s President, where he talked about the importance of everyone in Singapore.
The exhibition was one of the main highlights. Aptly named the “Hunger Tunnel”, participants had to walk through the tunnel to understand the plight of the underprivileged.
According to Nathaniel Ng Wei Tun, a second year student from the School of Design & Environment, the tunnel was constructed by Product Design & Innovation students from the School of Design & Environment out of cardboard as it was “cheaper and more sustainable”.
“The corrugated boards were an inspiration because many poor and old folks have to rummage through rubbish for these boards to sell,” Mr Tan adds.
The Fast a Meal campaign hoped to raise awareness of at least 8,000 students and staff and also raise $50,000 for both its beneficiaries, the NP Student Aid Fund and Touch Community Services.
“It is imperative to stress that the early generation of elders had struggled and we cannot forget what they have done. Thus it is also important for us to treasure what we have, and in this case, (it’s) the food on our table.”
– Mr Tan
Aside from the monetary donations, Mr Tan felt that the main goal of the campaign was to encourage a thankful “give back spirit” amongst NP staff and students.