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NDP2023: Meet the volunteers who spend their weekends giving back to community

When a Primary 5 pupil was separated from his school at a National Day Parade (NDP) National Education Show some weeks ago, a 20-year-old volunteer sprang into action.

Mr Navan Pang, who volunteers with Heartware Network, a charitable youth organisation, scoured the 27,000-seat Padang with the boy to reconnect him with his classmates.

The boy later sought Mr Pang out to give him sweets and thank him.

Mr Pang, a full-time national serviceman, who is overseeing a team of ushers for the NDP, told The Straits Times that he is happy to spend precious weekends volunteering as it gives him joy.

“I enjoy the moments that every single week brings,” said Mr Pang, who will be helping out in his fourth NDP come Aug 9.

“(Volunteering at the NDP) is something that gives me the drive to continue giving back (to the community), knowing that I’ve made an impact regardless of how small it is.”

Mr Pang is also a reserve member of the Heartware Network’s marching contingent – one of 34 contingents in the Parade segment, which include organisations from the social and economic sectors.

He said the sense of accomplishment after the parade on Aug 9 is a feeling that excites him.

“The final day is always the most jovial, knowing that we have spent weeks leading up (to it), and working hard to play a part in something massive not for just ourselves, not (just) for the committee, but also for the nation,” he added.

Another volunteer who has been committing weekends to keep the show going is auxiliary security trooper Julieana Suhaimi.

On weekdays, Ms Julieana is an early childhood educator, but on weekends, she volunteers with the Singapore Armed Forces Volunteer Corp (SAFVC).

This year is the first time she is volunteering for the NDP, and her role involves checking bags at the entry points to the Padang, where the parade is being held.

Said the 24-year-old of her time volunteering: “The greatest memories are probably from the camaraderie, the friends that I’ve met through SAFVC, because they come from different backgrounds, from everywhere.”

Noting that the volunteers included property agents, teachers and construction workers, she said: “These experiences that we share and the conversations that we have are really eye-opening. We can see things from so many different perspectives.”

About 1,300 personnel from the SAF and volunteers are involved with managing the spectators at NDP2023.

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