Communities and Engagement

Uni students double as ‘humble painters’

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Volunteers preparing the necessities before painting the house

Three university students from the National University of Singapore (NUS) led 16 committee members and 128 volunteers to enliven 28 Housing Development Board (HDB) rental units with fresh coats of paint during the gloomy pandemic last year.

Volunteers painted a brighter future of hope and comfort for low-income families and vulnerable elderly holed up in HDB rental flats with refreshing colours to make for cosier home environments during the pandemic.  

PAH CSC Volunteers Quek and Team

From left: NUS students Quek Yongkang, Yap Jia Ying and Emily Chng Ying Yin. Photo: Interviewees

NUS students Quek Yong Kang, Yap Jia Ying and Emily Chng Ying Ying led 16 committee members and 128 student volunteers to revamp 28 HDB rental units with fresh coats of paint over the pandemic last year, as part of the community outreach campaign Paint-A-Home – a special project initiated by the NUS Students’ Community Service Club (CSC).

Yong Kang candidly expressed that thoughts of terminating these painting activities did cross their minds when the project was forced to be put on hold due to circuit-breaker measures implemented shortly after the team launched the initiative back in February last year. “However, people had to stay home more than ever during the pandemic, which made us even more determined to stay committed and refresh homes with this initiative so that these residents could enjoy the comfort of home in a bright, fresh and clean state.”


Volunteers going door to door to give welfare bags to the beneficiaries

As Yong Kang recalls, one of the beneficiaries was a 60-year-old senior living on her own. Her rental unit had accumulated innumerable hoarded items, to the extent which there were only two “pathways” to get around the house and one could see dead roaches lying all over the place. Out of respect for the senior’s wishes to keep these items, Yong Kang and his volunteers resorted to shifting the clutter outside of the flat temporarily before they could proceed with repainting its interiors. After which, the team sorted the clutter and moved each item back into the freshly painted unit for the old lady. 

Although the entire process took close to 12 hours and utterly exhausted Yong Kang and the volunteers, the team felt that their efforts were absolutely worthwhile when they witnessed the granny’s face light up with a brilliant smile upon seeing her home now spick and span.


Translated by Office of Student Affairs

This article was first published in Lianhe Zaobao on 15 October 2021. Written by Ting Ya En. Photos: Lianhe Zaobao, reproduced with permission.