Singapore has been shrouded by haze the past week, with the Pollution Standard Index (PSI), hitting above 400. Any number above 300 is considered “hazardous”.
Understandably, many people are very unhappy that the Government is not doing enough to protect Singaporeans. While I understand where they are coming from, complaining online every single hour is not going to change anything. Why not go out and help those in need and suffering in this weather conditions?
My coach decided to close the box and cancel training as the haze situation worsened. As dedicated CrossFitters, all of us were very eager to train. But we understood and respected his decisions. So we allowed ourselves to be depressed for awhile before deciding we had to do something about this haze.
Why did we decide to take action? Firstly, we have scumbags going around, stocking up on masks and then reselling them to those who were in desperate need of them at a higher price. Secondly, there was a shortage of masks because of panic buying.
We drew inspiration from one of our members, Ford. This guy has no salary even though he’s a sponsored athlete because it’s not a paid sponsorship. But he was so “disturbed” by the sight of the some elderly folks not wearing masks because they couldn’t afford it, that he went to the nearest clinic to try his luck to buy masks. The clinic happened to have a few boxes lying around and he bought all of it. The next day, he went around Chinatown giving away the masks for free. Remember, this guy doesn’t draw a salary.
It’s stories like Ford that made me decide that the time had come for me to contribute. So when my Coach set up a “free masks giveaway taskforce”, I immediately signed up for it.
Met up with another member, Chris and Ford on Saturday night at Funan before we walked down to Chinatown. On the way, we gave away the masks we were carrying to the public and went door to door in some residential building. Even though we received suspicious looks because some people found it hard to believe that we were giving masks away for free and there were a few greedy ones, I really enjoyed myself.
Here are a few things which I noticed while making my rounds:
- Foreigners. We went up a block thinking that it will be filled with elderly folks. But instead, most of the occupants were foreigners who were renting the flats. We still gave out the masks to them, but what left a deep impression on me was the reactions from those who were from China. As you know by now, relations between the Singaporeans and the Chinese from China have been strained because of many incidents. So when we approached them, they were suspicious and tried to walk away. But when we explained what we were doing, they had a look of surprise and gratitude on their faces. I truly hope that through this mask-giving, in a way, we have extended our “warmest welcome” to them
- Singaporeans are suspicious of free things even though they want it so much.
- Quite a number of people that I gave out the masks to wanted to know which church, organisation or government agency I belonged to. I replied that we were doing this on our own effort. I didn’t see a need to mention that we were from CrossFit Fire City because it’s not our gym that defines what we what we do. It’s our values and our beliefs.
I really hope those who are whining and complaining online will come offline and help the people in need. Nothing beats seeing heartfelt gratitude and relief from those you help.