A few weeks back, I received an email from the National Youth Corps regarding OBS’s PIAH. I really didn’t know what to expect considering that it’s my first time volunteering for an outside project. Had to wake up at 5 yesterday to catch the first Downtown Line train to Punggol; man, travelling across Singapore in the early morning is no joke.It really made me question myself why I even bothered signing up that day instead of just ignoring the email like I have always done for previous ‘junk’ mail.
I volunteered to help out in the admin section to register the participants– apparently we had to be there by 7.15am but guess who only reached there at 7.25am? Claire and I missed the one and only shuttle bus to the OBS Reception Centre which was scheduled to pick us up at 7. The moment we reached Punggol MRT, we walked out of the station and tried to make smart guesses on who were possible people whom are taking the public bus there, it’s like how my folks always say: just follow the crowd.
We took bus no. 84 and only alighted when the people on the bus who were wearing any OBS related tee did. For some reason, despite sitting all the way at the back of the bus, we were the first to alight. Everyone just stood at the bus stop–up till now I still don’t know why they did that– as if waiting for something to happen whilst I made a wild guess to just cross the road into the campus. Hm, I really should start reading all emails throughly cause I’ve just read through the email which they’ve sent us regarding the reporting venue etcetera. It was really scary, I mean, the moment we crossed the road, everyone started to do the same and were walking behind us.
I felt really nervous and thought, “Oh no. What if I were to lead them to the wrong way? There’s like 30 people following right behind us.”
I just kept praying that my memory doesn’t fail me then, lo and behold, I actually remembered how to get to the registration centre! The both of us went in, still blur and unsure of what to do.We didn’t recognise anyone except for the instructors which we’ve met during our OBS Camp last March. For a good 1o minutes, we tried to figure out who we were supposed to report to.
Finally, after what felt like ages, we were tasked to give out the OBS Alumni shirts to the participants. We helped out two guys whom were already there and I issued the tees while Claire had to mark their wrist bands. I swear, the first two hours there was very messy for us cause we had no clear idea of what had to be done. One minute we were on duty to issue out the freebies while the next we were told to go and assemble for idk what briefing. Ok so everything eventually settled down at about 10. Everyone else had taken boats jetties to Pulau Ubin while we were still there at Punggol. We were part of the last group for the whole event, G2.
We started off with two ice breakers and unexpectedly, through that short 30mins, we became more comfortable and closer with one another. While groups A1-H2 were busy cleaning up the beach at Ubin, planting trees at Tanjong Tajam, there we were, tasked to make birdhouses. Nope, there weren’t any machinery involved. It was pure manual labour.
G2 was further split into 4 separate groups; the first was tasked to pick the same size of wood, the second to saw them into the specific dimensions, the third to assemble two planks together while the last to hammer it all down with nails to put it into place. I was in the third group. Using a screwdriver and screws, I had to screw two planks together and ensure that the sides are even and smooth. I always thought that it was a difficult task to screw it into the planks but apparently, the wood was soft enough to enable me to do so without much force. I moved to the fourth group to help assemble the different parts and man, it was tough. There had been more than one instance where the wood was cut differently and we had to trim a little bit of this and that to make the wood of the same length.
Our task involved many soft skills– sawing, hammering, screwing and also sanding. I can safely say that I felt that I’m secondary 2 all again. I mean, I thought that last year would be the last time I would be touching those tools to make products (apart from my mini projects at home) so it was quite nostalgic as I recalled my sec 1 and sec 2 days doing DNT. In that short 90mins, we managed to make 11 birdhouses together as a group. It was really a feat cause I’ve never made a bird house with my own two hands or even thought that I would be making any in my entire life.
After that, we headed to the jetty to make our way to Ubin. I just have this slight connection to the sea. Whenever I’m on a boat, I’d always feel like I’m in trance. The vast sea where all you can see water, the wake of the boats, the sound of the boat engine. Ah, I’ll never get tired of it. Ok, I have to admit, the waters aren’t really that blue, but its just so satisfying to watch the wake while on the move.
There, we were treated to a buffet. The food which they catered was really good. All of our hard work was really worth the sweat. It was as if we were rewarded for the good which we had contributed to nature. We spent that 2 hours of break eating and walking around the OBS campus. Hey hey guess what Pokémon Go fans? There’s a gym and a pokestop located there and the pokémons there aren’t that bad. But you might wanna reconsider conquering the gym and the Pokémon of the lowest CP is like already more than 1000 and the gym’s prestige is like whoa. 2 Gyarados, a Snorlax and an Exeggutor hmm. I still think that the gym has been conquered by the instructors there…
Oops, looks like I digressed a little haha. Anyways, we walked around, recalling the 4 days worth of memories back then in March when we had our sec 3 camp. I sat down on the Indiana’s deck, closed my eyes and just listened to the sound of the crickets, the smell of nature, the gentle breeze blowing across my face. There’s really nothing better compared to the gift of nature. One that everyone takes for granted, thinking that it’ll forever be as wonderful as what it is now. My internal thoughts were disturbed when we were told to assemble back into the hall for a short speech.
Honestly speaking, I didn’t really paid much attention to the speaker this time round. I was just astounded by the number of people sitting there in the hall. 382 volunteers to be exact. People from different backgrounds coming together to work towards a common goal. Everyone who were there weren’t there by cause they had to. They were there because they want to. It really was a sight to see everyone conversing with one another as if they knew each other from the start. When the speech was over, everyone clapped and cheered loudly while knowing that that marked the end of their PIAH journey. While waiting for the boats to arrive, everyone just laid down in the hall, enjoying the cool natural wind knowing that we’ve accomplished our mission.