Going Back to Basics Going Back to Basics

06 Jun 2017

Going Back to Basics

You've been running Back2Basics for more than three years now with the help of friends and volunteers. How did the idea come about?

Starting Back2Basics partly had to do with my own family's circumstances where there were nights when we had to go hungry. My parents got divorced and my mother, sisters and I were rendered homeless for five years. Once our situation improved, I reflected on it and knew I had to help or contribute in some way to provide food to other needy families. Years later, I watched a video online where an Imam was addressing a crowd and telling them that it was the responsibility of the community  to protect the helpless and weak amongst them. My best friend, Dinah fully committed to the idea as well, so we started a call on Facebook for other people to join us. Only one other person came forward and eventually, the three of us kicked it off.

What are some setbacks or challenges you've faced along the way?

Location was one of our first few challenges as we did not have a warehouse (and still don’t) to store the groceries, so for the past three years, we have changed our locations quite a fair bit to suit our logistics. It’s still a challenge but we are trying to work around it. 

Getting volunteers has always been tough work. Thankfully, in the first year, we managed to establish a core group of volunteers of about eight people. Although they are full time employees in their own fields and students, they are always around for every drive to ensure it goes smoothly. Without them, we wouldn’t have come this far. And of course, despite not going public for donations, we managed to sustain our efforts thanks to a tiny pool of supporters who believe in the work we do. 
 
Right now, we are planning to see how we can scale up Back2Basics. Poverty is not the only issue facing these families. There are usually social and domestic issues involved too, which we are not qualified to deal with. Ultimately, the idea is to grant these needy families holistic assistance so they don't get caught in a vicious cycle.

Going Back to Basics

Going Back to Basics

Going Back to Basics

Then there’s Interfaith Youth Circle, which your team formed to build bridges between different faith groups in Singapore. Tell us more about where this initiative is heading.

I'm really excited about Interfaith Youth Circle and the work we are planning to do. Currently we run Scriptural Reasoning every month – the first of such events ever to be held in Singapore. Scriptural Reasoning is practised globally. It is a tool for inter-faith dialogue whereby people of different faiths come together to read and reflect on their scriptures. It is not about seeking agreement but rather exploring the texts and their possible interpretations across faith boundaries, and learning to ‘disagree better’. The result is often a deeper understanding of others' and one’s own scriptures, as well as the development of strong bonds across faith communities. 

Much of the interfaith scene in Singapore has always been very much about conversations that barely touch the surface of real issues we face as a diverse community. We plan to break that barrier whilst providing a safe space for all where we can speak about things that matter most to us. The objective is to continuously improve relations amongst the diverse members of our community.

What are some tips you have for people who want to start their own community initiative?

Find out what is lacking in your community or where you live. Try not to repeat something that another organisation is already doing unless you plan to take it to the next level or improve it.

Do it now – Don’t wait for the right time. There isn’t one. It is okay to make mistakes. You get better after every time you try.

Remember your intention – Why are you doing this? Keeping your intention close at heart  will help guide you in making decisions that will benefit those you are helping.

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