Background: I used to be under the Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) when I was a student, where financial help is given to students from less privileged background in Singapore. This essay is written to reflect more regarding the plight and predicament of the impoverished of societies.

Disclaimer: I am currently a 20 year old full time national serviceman. I won’t be declaring my family’s income but I would say that I am happy that I have three meals on the table, and I don’t have to worry about my needs.

Context: Mooncakes are used here as they reflect the disparities in purchasing power, or ability to purchase. Empty Mooncakes are used here as they are often shunned upon and forgotten. This also reflects how the impoverished always constantly settle for something lesser, even for what that others do not desire.

This essay is titled

“The Empty Mooncake, An Empty Dream”

The Empty Mooncake, An Empty Dream; An Essay Reflecting the Plight of the Impoverished by Javier Tan- Bakeomaniac

Luxurious mooncakes laid in extravagant display boxes. Stores fervently vied for the divided but necessary attention of jostling customers. These consumers are nothing but earnestly keen on attaining the best treats as both gifts and for their beloved family.

This Mid-Autumn Festival was typically different from the past. New flavours and techniques were dutifully employed to aid in ensnaring the flock of customers. As usual. Alongside, one would never have noticed that the empty mooncakes were left forgotten. Nothing special, as usual.

Such is the forgotten plight of the impoverished amongst the fast paced life of society.

Amidst the fast paced lives that society leads, the impoverished are both subconsciously and consciously outcasted to the forgotten realms. Akin to the empty mooncakes, they were deemed not worthy of attention, and perhaps even routinely forgotten year after year ( if they were remembered again ).

Society’s relentless notion was that one merely spends their personal hard earned keep, and that one must work hard to succeed. It is hence not surprising but honestly shocking, that labels such as “lazy” and “sloth” are thrown upon the maligned impoverished.

Depressingly often, we fail to materialize that we possess the much sought after precariously precious privilege. The privilege to succeed, if we work hard. That does sound clear cut and straightforward to us, no?

Yet, we neglected the crucial fact that we never should have imposed our privileged standards upon the burdened impoverished.

Having insurmountable obstacles that come wave after wave and living from paycheck to paycheck, the impoverished are stuck in a perilous cycle that serves nothing but to drain their dream for a better life.

While we eagerly look forward to a new and better tomorrow with endless possibilities, they dread about the hurdles that reinstall in yet another torturous day.

Imagine having to helplessly worry about paying overdue utilities bill, the hefty medical fees of a critically sick loved one, along with once affordable daily necessities that are no longer so. This nightmarish horror, unimaginable to most of us, is a daily reality for the impoverished. How can they still strive to improve their lives when they are stuck in this inescapable cycle?

Did they ask to be born poor? Did they ask for a family member to be heavily and critically ill? Did they ask for life changing nightmares that might permanently chain them as captives of poverty?

Now, let me state something that we constantly forget we have the privilege to. We often forgot that it is also us and only us, who have the powerful privilege to extend a warm helping hand, and aid those who need it. It is also us, who can make a difference in their life, be it subtly or greatly impactful.

Indeed, the government, along with charities, do implement life-changing welfare programs to the impoverished.

But such a pertinent societal problem hasn’t been solved, has it? I admit too that it might even never be solved for there are always new people constantly being plunged into the poverty cycle. That, however, doesn’t provide us with an exploitable excuse to just sit back and close an eye to their hapless struggles. This perennial issue is indeed gut wrenching but it is an amendable truth in its own right. We can do more to alleviate this situation.

We might not have the miraculous power to solve their problems, but we possess the essential ability to alleviate and lessen their burdens. Social help can be powered by the people, for the people. We can play our part regardless through monetary donations, donations of objects, and through time and effort.

This Mid Autumn Festival, I am hoping that more people will change their mindsets towards the poor, and do more regardless of the size of the deed. We can change the lives of the impoverished bit by bit.

We do altruistic deeds not to build good karma and because we hope that we will be able to have the same help if we befall in the same situation. We do so because we can make a life-changing difference. We do so because no one deserves to be stuck in poverty.

As a follow up from this essay, I have partnered with one of the local ( Singaporean ) charity organizations that I have read about since my Junior College days. I fully support their innovative programmes.

This is an altruistic partnership ( I am not paid for this and I do not want to be ), for I believe that the spreading of word is itself a kind deed we can do to return to society. I am not saying that there is a “best” charity organization out there, but I strongly support what this one does.

This organization is Food from the Heart. Their mission is to reach out to the less-fortunate and brighten their lives by alleviating hunger through a food distribution programme and bringing joys through the distribution of toys and birthday celebrations. You can click here for their website.

Personally, I feel that by bringing food to the tables of the impoverished, it equips the impoverished to not give up on their dreams for a better life, and continue to persevere. Furthermore, I believe that no one deserves to go to bed hungry, considering how food wastage is considerably increasing over recent years. It is ironically unfortunate how we are wasting excess food, with or without guilt, that could have been put to better usage and purpose.

I will further go on to elaborate two of their programmes, namely the Bread Programme and the Community Food Pack. There are more programmes that they run and you can check out their website be it for general education and awareness purposes, or if you are interested to see how you can help out.

For the Bread Programme ( I strongly support this innovative idea ), unsold breads are collected from partnered bakeries at their closing time by volunteers ( be it through their mobile transport or even by foot! ), and transported to the needy as such as in welfare homes and self Collection Centres. This ensures that good food does not go to waste. Food from the Heart collects an astonishing amount of 28,000kg of bread per month! Imagine how big a difference this programme have been making!

By giving some extra effort you can make a crucial difference to the impoverished. Though this relay of love, society can definitely work together to make a difference in the lives of the underprivileged!

In the Community Food Pack programme, Food from the Heart partners with corporations, organisations and schools to conduct food donation drives. This allows society to altruistically reach out and share food with the needy, be it a neighbour or the community. Alongside, the organization even encourages importers, wholesalers, retailers and manufacturers to donate non-perishable food items earmarked for disposal by their standard guidelines, but are still of a respectable and optimum quality, safe to be consumed.

So what can the individual do to contribute to the above programme? Well, one can participate in such food drives, directly drop off food of good quality at their headquarters ( with guidelines to be met! ), or even order online through major supermarkets such as Fairprice and deliver food products to their warehouse. Volunteers are also definitely more than welcome as Food from the Heart is a non-profit organization and would require volunteers in order to expand their operations. Monetary donations are accepted too!

I hope that through my essay and my sharing, you will realize how every one in society can play a part to help the underprivileged. It is an unfortunate normality that people will succumb to circumstances that beset them in poverty. But we can minimize the cruelty of life, as a people for the people.

Should you resonate and agree with the perspective of this essay, feel free to share it through any medium. Do contact me for any clarifications or queries!

Sincerely, and Non Mihi Solum ( Not for myself alone ),
Javier Tan