You might have seen people touring the blood bank, watching you complete the donation process as the guide provides some insights about blood donation. The National Blood Programme’s Learning Journey is an ongoing activity for students and organisations who are interested to learn about blood donation and the impact of such a generous gift.

Mary Olympia Chacko, 53, has been providing such tours since March 2017. She was previously part of the core volunteer group at Bloodbank@Westgate Tower, trained to provide donor care service. “I enjoyed volunteering at Westgate Tower as it provided an opportunity to interact with other blood donors. But I was also keen to do more than donor servicing so I jumped at the opportunity to conduct tours as a Docent at the blood bank – this involved interacting and convincing potential and would-be donors of the importance of blood donation and challenges faced in Singapore. Generally, our youths have reacted positively to becoming donors after these tours!”

She enthused, “I first got involved in Jul 2016 after seeing an advertisement for volunteers in a women’s magazine. As I enjoyed meeting people, and had the relevant skills, I decided to volunteer with the Singapore Red Cross.”

Mary has given blood 37 times in Singapore, and can relate to the challenges some women face in making successful donations due to low iron count. She makes a conscious effort to take the iron tablets, drinks lime juice, where possible, with her meals to improve iron absorption and has quit coffee (but can’t cut caffeine totally, so she still drinks tea) just so that she can donate!

“Being a donor is an added boost to my role as a docent - I’m familiar with the process and the rationale for giving blood, and am able to pass on the knowledge in a convincing manner. Nothing beats the experience of watching a donor going through the donation process to allay the commonly held fears and misperceptions!”

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” - Albert Einstein

In today’s Teacher’s Day Special, we speak to Mrs Evelyn Jayesh from CHIJ St Theresa’s Convent, who is an inspiration outside her classroom.

1. Tell us why you chose this profession.

I was inspired by my secondary teachers to educate students to be better persons in the society. I enjoy mathematics and hope to inspire my students with my passion in this subject.

2. How did blood donation enter your teaching?

I learnt the importance of blood donation after I started working at Singapore Red Cross in 2009. I believe in its good cause and I hope to continue contributing despite leaving the organisation.

To give the student councillors a platform to develop skills in event planning and to cultivate a sense of social responsibility in them, the Secondary Two and Three students are encouraged to organise their own blood donation drives, A Truly Magical Christmas, in December every year. The events are fully youth-run, and is a progression from their involvement in other blood donation drive and the International Bazaar since 2014.

The planning for the Magical Christmas starts in April, and the preparation for the event includes designing publicity materials, creating awareness of blood donation on the streets, and training the other volunteers. We hope our contribution boosts the blood collection in December, as we understand the collection is usually lower during festive periods.

3. What are some of the proudest moments of your students?

There are many good memories from our previous years of involvement in Magical Christmas. I feel proud to see the alumni coming forward to donate blood to support Magical Christmas. It is also very encouraging to see the Secondary Four students making their blood donation on their birthdays! This is very inspiring to their juniors. I am also proud of my student councillors for organising this blood donation drive with commitment and pride.

4. What do you hope your students will take away from you when they graduate?

I hope they learn to be someone with compassion and to never underestimate their ability to contribute back to the society.