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TAKING HEART

NP raises S$22k to help rebuild villages in Lombok

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Ngee Ann Polytechnic staff and students with Lombok citizens. The group was there for the Youth Expedition Project (YEP) programme about a year before the earthquake occurred.

Singapore

ON THE evening of July 29, a news article about the Lombok earthquake caught the attention of Tan Yilin, a final year product design & innovation student at Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP).

Having completed a Youth Expedition Project (YEP) programme about a year before the earthquake occurred, her first thoughts were about the safety of the locals she had befriended.

Ms Tan forwarded the online article to the YEP whatsapp chat group.

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"I asked everyone to drop a message to the people there to check on them. One of the locals sent me a photo of his collapsed house and said he hoped we could help them with basic necessities such as food, clean water and blankets."

Lecturer at NP Raja Mohammad Fairuz also gathered other YEP leaders who had been to Lombok to discuss relief efforts.

"We decided to launch a donation drive and we sought help from our finance colleagues on the proper channels to conduct a campus wide donation drive."

Fundraising efforts started on Aug 6 and S$22,000 (including S$10,000 from a private donor) have been collected thus far.

"We hope that businesses and Singaporeans can help us by donating to the cause or partnering us in rebuilding efforts. For example, if we are looking to rebuild schools, we will be seeking corporate sponsorship to finance the materials and construction cost."

One of the many challenges faced is that only cashless contributions such as DBS Paylah are accepted.

"Traditional forms of donations, for example, cash or bank transfers are not advisable due to the move towards making NP a smart campus," says Mr Raja.

He adds that it is also the study/exam week so students are not actively involved in the fundraising at the moment.

But Ms Tan says they will ramp up efforts once the exams are over.

"We are still coming up with ideas - a donation drive that will be conducted on a bigger scale that involves Singaporeans."

Logistics is also an issue that the group has to overcome as the latest earthquake just happened on Sunday.

Mr Raja says: "We have yet to confirm how the funds will be disbursed as fundraising efforts are still ongoing. The initial plan was to send an assessment team in September or October and identify what areas we could help with - especially rebuilding efforts. But we need to monitor the situation for aftershocks and accessibility to the villages."

Ms Tan says: "We should cherish what we have. Singapore is not plagued by natural disasters. Singaporeans have better standards of living, better public transport system, healthcare and job opportunities. The locals in Lombok find joy in the simple things in life."

Mr Raja adds that as global citizens, it is only right that Singaporeans help the people of Lombok.

"It is good to take part in a larger cause and the best way to start is within our own Ngee Ann community."

To date, Lombok has been hit by three earthquakes.