Launched on 3 April, a new interfaith initiative called SowCare Together aims to being Singapore youth from different faiths together to do good.
It plans to recruit some 300 volunteers from different faiths, who will attend a talk about a religion other than their own, and then design and execute a charity project to benefit marginalised communities, such as the homeless, migrant workers, ex-offenders and youth-at-risk. From April and June, volunteers will also arrange activities to reach out to beneficiaries of charities like Care Corner Singapore and New Hope Services.
Organised by charity Hope Initiative Alliance (HIA) and co-organised by SowCare, the charity arm of The Bible Society of Singapore, the project is also supported by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, Ministry of Manpower and Ministry of Social and Family Development.
At its launch, HIA President Reverend Ezekiel Tan said that SowCare Together will give young people the chance to learn about religions different from their own and to join other volunteers of different faiths to serve “needy communities together”.
Also speaking was Alvin Tan, Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth and Trade and Industry, who stressed that this project comes at a time when racial and religious harmony has come into the spotlight with recent events. Mr Tan was referring to reports in the past three months of two self-radicalised youths who had planned to attack places of worship in Singapore.
“We averted them, but imagine if our authorities didn’t get them and the impact on our society,” he notes. “If that happens, and maybe it’s a question of when and not if, whether our youth and general public will have the ability to quickly correct disinformation and misinformation and correct hate speech online…And that is the only way that the forces that unite can overcome the forces that divide…At the same time we are promulgating the message of loving one another offline and also injecting these messages online.”
Indeed, there is an increasing need to foster religious harmony, says Reverend Tan: “We hope to channel the passion and energy of the youth towards good works and interfaith engagement, all while improving the lives of underprivileged communities in Singapore.”
SowCare Together was made possible after the idea emerged as one of the top winners at a hackathon organised by MCCY and StartupX, last year. The team who pitched it received a S$20,000 grant for convincing judges of its plan to build social cohesion and harmony by uniting people of different faiths towards a common goal of helping others.
Partners of the initiative include Singapore Kindness Movement, JTC, various Institutes of Higher Learning and charity organisations.