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06 May 2010

Donned in traditional Indian attire, our volunteer Supraja spends her birthday in an extraordinary and special way. What began as a cultural exchange programme during our regular elderly drop-in programme became an exchange of joy, as the lives of Supraja, her family, the beneficiaries and staff of The Salvation Army Family Support Services crossed paths. Supraja shares her reflections of her 17th birthday celebration with us.

By S. Supraja
I am Supraja. I am a junior college student with Raffles Institution. I have always believed that art knows no barriers and service knows no boundaries.
On Wednesday, 17th March 2010, I celebrated my 17th birthday with the elderly from the Family Support Services, accompanied by my parents and my grandmother in this special birthday celebration. I always look forward to spending my birthday meaningfully with the underprivileged; sharing my joy with others on this very special day of my life. In the past, I had celebrated my 12th & 16th birthdays with the underprivileged children from Child at Street 11. This year, I wanted to spend time, talk to and have a great birthday with the elderly. And so, I planned a 2-hour programme for the elderly, with the aim of making them happy on my birthday.

When I first entered the place, all of them were so happy to see me and many grandmas who had gathered there also came to hug me! I felt so touched. :)
I began entertaining them by performing a short Indian dance piece. Then I played a “passing the parcel” game with the elderly. The elderly had to pass a ball while my grandmother was clapping. The moment my grandmother stopped clapping, the person who had the ball in his/her hand had to follow me by doing a simple Indian dance gesture or facial expression, such as gesturing birds, trees etc. It was great fun and the winner of the game was given the ball as a prize.

Throughout the game, I found the elderly so cute and innocent; they were full of smiles and everyone was laughing. Soon, we came to the last activity where we taught the elderly the art of doing Rangoli, an Indian art in which a drawing is decorated with coloured powder. We brought along coloured powder and also drew designs on some cardboard for the elderly to decorate.
The elderly were all super creative and used several colours to decorate the board. In groups of about 5 people, each team worked together happily and completed their masterpieces. I was especially touched by one group who wrote “happy birthday” on the board and gave me a birthday greeting from the bottom of their hearts. It was something so priceless and I am indeed fortunate to receive the wishes and blessings from so many elderly on my birthday.

One grandma even gave me a Hong Bao and it really touched my heart to know that despite being underprivileged, she still had the sweet thought of giving me something as a birthday gift. We ended the day with a sponsored lunch for the elderly.

I felt so satisfied seeing the happiness in so many people’s lives that day. The day was definitely a very memorable and unforgettable one in my life and I love all the grandmas and grandpas there! :)

Celebrations, Entertainment & Befriending are just some of the many volunteer opportunities available in The Salvation Army. For more information, visit http://sg.salvationarmy.org/volunteer