Making a difference in the community

Mr Samuel Ng from the International Services department in the Singapore Red Cross is deployed to Beijing, China to help with the response efforts for COVID 19  (PHOTO CREDIT: MR SAMUEL NG)

By Tan Yong En, Corporate Communications Intern

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic that was first reported on 31 December 2019, the Singapore Red Cross (SRC) deployed International Services’ Executive, Samuel Ng to coordinate the Singapore Red Cross’ response efforts in Beijing, China.

Concurrently, Samuel was also seconded to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support East Asia’s COVID-19 response. Samuel first arrived in China on 21 February and will be there until late June. 

Samuel shared his personal experiences and insights gleaned as part of SRC’s International Services team, working in the IFRC East Asia Office in Beijing. 

Though not part of the frontlines, Samuel’s work is no less important. As the Plan, Monitor, Evaluate and Report (PMER) delegate, he collaborates with partners on-the-ground such as World Vision, IFRC and Shenzhen One Foundation to provide aid to the affected communities, thereby supporting the work of SRC and the East Asia National Societies. 

For example, as a representative of SRC, Samuel worked together with Shenzhen One Foundation to distribute medical supplies. To date, SRC has completed the distribution of personal protective equipment and other items. In total, 19,200 N95 masks, 43,350 disposable coveralls, 426 hazmat suits and 141 tentages were distributed.

Travelling to China during the height of the coronavirus outbreak, Samuel was understandably apprehensive of the situation. 

“Since I was in this situation, I was more cautious when I first came to Beijing. I took my temperature more often. When I had a runny nose, I would take it seriously. After I got used to it, it wasn’t that bad,’’ he said.

Samuel shared that things have been going smoothly because of his warm and encouraging colleagues. The team makes an effort to meet for dinner on weekends once in a while. They also constantly check in on each other. 

“Being together as a team really helps. Everyone’s presence may be small on its own, but it is the small things that make the difference,” he affirmed.

Mr Samuel Ng and his colleagues deep in discussion, working together to fight the spread of COVID-19 in the IFRC East Asia office (PHOTO CREDIT: MR SAMUEL NG)

Samuel and the team were greatly encouraged when there was a great decline in the number of COVID-19 cases in China. 

‘’After the lockdown on Wuhan was removed on 8 April, I was overwhelmed with joy. I wanted to share the news with everyone,” said Samuel.

Overall, Samuel shared that he gained invaluable insights from his experience. 

“I enjoy working in the IFRC office as I get a better idea of how operations work here!’’ he quipped.

Samuel said that if he were given a second chance, he would still want to be deployed overseas to help with the global pandemic. 

“I like being on the ground and am grateful to be given the opportunity to support the work in Beijing, China,’’ he acknowledged.

Indeed, the Red Cross humanitarian workers in the region have played an integral role in supporting the COVID-19 response efforts. However, it is essential for everyone to do his or her part to stop the spread of the virus.

Some practical ways to curtail the spread of the virus would be to pay more attention to personal hygiene. Handwashing must be done more vigorously and frequently during this period of time. Everyone around the globe can play a role by staying home as much as possible, to stem the transmission of the virus. 

Besides the Red Cross humanitarian workers’ international contributions, local organisations such as the COVID-19 Migrant Support Coalition (CMSC) have also been founded as a collaborative effort with several ground-up initiatives. Established on 6 April 2020, the group raises funds and organises resources to facilitate the provision of basic needs and essentials to migrant workers in dormitories across Singapore during the circuit breaker. Volunteers or people who wish to donate to the funds can do so through the group’s website.

The spread of the coronavirus can be overcome, as long as we stand united against it.