NP grads fight for social causes
One helps Kenyan girls go to school, the other seeks to address challenges senior citizens here face
Miss Angela Carol Merciar, 21, jumped at the chance to intern in Kenya for five months.
The internship sparked a project to help hundreds of Kenyan girls go to school.
Miss Merciar started a project called Wing Her to School for girls who were unable to attend classes when they were having their period because they could not afford sanitary pads.
Through this project, she hopes to provide 300 Kenyan girls with enough sanitary pads to last a year.
She is part of Ngee Ann Polytechnic's (NP) Service-Learning Champs Network, launched to strengthen students' civic capabilities and to encourage social advocacy.
Miss Merciar, who recently graduated from NP with a diploma in business and social enterprise, was attached to an agribusiness start-up in Kenya to teach financial literacy to students aged 13 to 18.
During a conversation with another teacher, Miss Merciar realised some girls were not going to school regularly because they could not afford sanitary pads.
According to Miss Merciar, girls who were on their period would use either pieces of cloth orleaves as substitutes for sanitary pads.
These being poorer alternatives, they would be forced to stay at home while their period lasted.
She added: "I saw that these girls needed just one thing to go to school, and it would be really pitiful if this one thing was enough to deny them their basic right to education."
She convinced her friends in Singapore to donate to her cause, then began a social media campaign on Instagram to raise more publicity. She has raised $2,600 to date.
Miss Merciar is in talks with a non-government organisation in Kenya to hand over her project so that it can be sustained.
Mr Ernest Wong, 20, who also recently graduated from NP's business and social enterprise student course, is focusing on issues closer to home.
He started social enterprise Camp Hiro in November 2016 to encourage youth to gain awareness and take ownership of social issues.
The Japanese word "hiro" has two meanings, said Mr Wong
"One is generosity and big-hearted, because that is the message we want to send, and the second is fathom, to figure out the truth of issues we are trying to identify," he added
He hopes to expand his project in the future to address all social issues. He is starting with the eldercare sector and the challenges senior citizens face.
Camp Hiro conducts programmes including an ageing simulation programme. In it, teenagers wear a suit that hinders their mobility and pick up cardboard to exchange for money.
Mr Wong, who is also part of the Service-Learning Champs Network, aims for teenagers to empathise with these individuals.
He said: "I want the youth to try to identify what they can do to solve these issues, whether it is at home or volunteering outside - little actions that they can take in their own capacity as a youth."