Befriending our pioneer generation
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By Patricia Ler, Corporate Communications and Marketing


“If you really want to explore a place, you will go to the heart of it.” That is John Mathew’s life motto. The outgoing 31 year-old Indian national, who works at a local IT firm specialising in data storage and backup, shares his insight on how he keeps himself meaningfully occupied amidst his hectic work schedule. He is a nature photography enthusiast with a big heart for the elderly.

John enrolled in a first aid course at Singapore Red Cross (SRC) Academy because he understood the importance of first aid when one of his local rock climbing friends met with a near-fatal accident during his climb.

He received a call from Fara Roslan, SRC’s District Manager for Northeast, under the Community Resilience team. She had introduced him to ElderAid, a service where volunteers befriend and care for the isolated elders. He swiftly accepted the invitation to join, as he has always been attached to the older generation.

“I admire their fighting spirit,” he said.

John observed that the level of receptiveness from the elders in his home country and Singapore may differ. Yet, their life experiences taught him precious lessons which he would not have gained otherwise.  He perceives the elders as his role models.

“You learn many things and get a lot of advice from the elders. Some of them really touched me with their words,” he says with a beaming smile.

Notwithstanding his busy schedule, he visits an elderly beneficiary fortnightly together with volunteers Fong Kwok Onn and Jennifer Ayson. They conduct regular health assessments on the elderly beneficiary and bring him to picnics or strolls at East Coast Park or Gardens by the Bay. Such excursions bring joy to both the befrienders and the elders as they share common memories together.

“You cannot force anything on anyone. Volunteering means you are stepping out on your own terms,” acknowledged John. He encourages his Singaporean friends to join him on this meaningful journey.

If you are ready to join John in building community resilience with our elderly, volunteer as a befriender in your neighbourhood today. To find out more, please visit