Singapore has made international news lately because of last week’s historic haze. I was in Malaysia all week for a camp with my church and missed the worst thus far, however many others were not as fortunate. During the whole week abroad many of us were glued to this website, checking the hourly PSI readings to track just how bad the situation was back in Singapore. Most of the news stories we read while abroad were increasingly depressing as we learned that all N95 respirator masks in Singapore had been sold out with many vulnerable people, such as children and the elderly, still in need of them.
Upon returning to Singapore late Friday afternoon, the PSI was back down below 200. Unfortunately though we have been warned that this is only a temporary breath of fresh air with more haze to be expected for quite a while. As I began to catch up with some friends this weekend I learned that in reaction to the haze a group of helpful citizens has been mobilizing to help the most vulnerable populations by collecting and distributing N95 masks. Although Singapore is very warm all year there is still a number of people, particularly low-income elderly residents in rental HDB flats, that live without air conditioning and therefore are very susceptible to illness from the haze. To help these residents find a place to escape the haze there has even been some Singaporeans that have offered up air conditioned rooms in their homes for those that need it the most.
It has been amazing to see that faced with such challenges there are residents in Singapore that are willingly to go above and beyond to help their neighbors and community. My hope is that this time will inspire more Singaporeans to be aware of how they can help those around them in need; may it be someone in a neighboring flat today or in a neighboring country tomorrow.
The best cities are not just great because of their environment or air quality, but because of the people who inhabit them. When these people start to care for each other and the wellbeing of their city, they become more than residents, they become active citizens. Thank you to all of Singapore’s citizens that have made the choice to help through the haze.
If you are in Singapore and would like to learn how you help the SG Haze Rescue group you can find information on their website or their Facebook page. You can also read more about their effort to pass out mask through my friend’s account here.