Bergotong-royong with NUS Libraries!

Kampong Spirit

Gotong royong’ means “communal helping of one another”, forging bonds of friendship through mutual aid and cooperation within a community or kampung. That was what the NUS Libraries volunteers were doing at the Kampung that is the South Central Community (SCC) Family Service Centre, on 9th September 2017, the NUS Day of Service (#NUSDOS), to show #NUSCares.  

photo of the South Central Community Family Service Centre
The South Central Community Family Service Centre

The SCC Family Service Centre provides support to low-income and vulnerable families in their community, while also encouraging self-help and cooperation between members of the community. “No man is an island” – together we can achieve what is impossible to do alone.

At the Centre, the NUS Libraries volunteers shared some skills in baking, beautifying the gardens and creating an inventory system for the centre’s books, to create a sustained impact for the Centre’s members.. Read on to learn about what was accomplished by each group of volunteers – the Baker Makers, Green Thumbers and Cool “Cats”!

The NUS Libraries volunteers pose for a group shot before starting work

Something piping hot was coming out fresh from the oven – the Baker Makers had put on their chef’s hats and prepared dozens of cupcakes at the Community Kitchen! With the assistance of parent volunteers, trays of vanilla and chocolate cupcakes with an assortment of fillings (aren’t they tantalizing!) were baked with care for the children and their tutors at the Learning Kampung. Some of the children tried their hand at making the cupcakes themselves!

Handmade cupcake mixes ready to go in the oven
Proudly displaying his first cupcakes

The Green Thumbers were at work in the Community Garden to transplant the new potted plants to the garden beds. Lovely additions to the existing variety of medicinal and culinary herbs and vegetables include lemongrass, chilli, mint and lime. These can be freely enjoyed by the residents whenever they wish to add a tinge of flavor to their own dishes. One cannot help but admire the lush leaves and vibrantly coloured fruits that adorn the green landscape!

Our Green Thumbers are ready to start!
Weeding the trellis

Books at the common space and the Goodwill Exchange were carefully categorised (Get it? “cat”egorised?) by the Cool “Cats”. Prior to the day of event, a colour scheme — the brainchild of a few librarians — was devised specifically for the centre’s collection to make it easier for members of the Centre to find and retrieve books.. Depending on its target audience and content, the spine of each book was labelled using bakery tape of a specific colour before the entire collection was sorted accordingly. A legend detailing the colour scheme was also prepared for the Centre. An organized collection can reduce the hassle experienced by the members when locating a suitable book for their needs.

Working hard at organising the books
Putting the books back on the shelves

Through a food donation drive before the event, we managed to amass food items contributed by our colleagues at NUS Libraries. These items were in turn delivered to the Centre for the benefit of the members.

Share the Kampong Spirit with us

It was truly heartening to see the immediate fruits of our labour: a richer garden, the organized bookshelves and the glow on the members’ faces when they received the cupcakes. More importantly, the baking skills we imparted, the useful plants we added and the scheme we devised will continue benefit the community in the future.

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