February 2016 | Issue 22
LKCMedicine's first OCIP grows from strength to strength

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By Huang Jinghui
Class of 2020

On 19 December, the 15 LKCMedicine students of the Project Daya team set off for Batam on our third Overseas Community Involvement Project (OCIP) trip.

The approach that the Project Daya team has taken is slightly different from other OCIPs. We are focusing on a single village, and work extensively with the villagers to provide education towards community development in aspects such as health and sanitation. Since last July, we have been visiting the village every three months, working closely with Peduli Bangsa, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), to provide health and sanitation education to the villagers of Mangsang, Batam.

Project Daya, which has grown out of LKCMedicine's very first OCIP, has a clear direction set upon two key goals – empowerment and sustainability. Instead of providing direct aid, through Project Daya, we want to empower individuals. Under the guidance of Professor of Infectious Diseases Annelies Wilder-Smith, we learnt ways of conducting programmes to encourage villagers to take ownership of their health and environment, and equip them with the knowledge and skills towards improving their living conditions. Empowerment does not stop with our beneficiaries. We aim to empower the NGO to conduct quality programmes in educating the Batam community. This ties in closely with our second goal of sustainability – by training the trainers, we hope that in the future, the project can be continued without our intervention.

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Year 1 Alex Tanoto-Lim conducts part of our outreach programme

On previous trips, the villagers would gather for programmes at the village chief's house. However, this time we decided to flip things around. We brought the programmes straight to their doorstep. The goal was not only to share information with the villagers, but also to assess their needs. Year 1 student Choo Yuejia commented, "We began to understand more about them, their lives and the challenges they face, more than we could ever gather by observation or group discussions. The most important thing was getting
to know them personally and building better relationships."

Children are the key to the future and what long-term project would be complete without programmes for them? Based on our needs assessment from the previous trip, the committee decided to focus on teaching the children simple English and ways of having a healthy diet. With adequate preparation and teamwork with our translators, we were able to keep the programmes engaging while achieving our learning objectives.

We also organised a carnival, where villagers came to play games and to go through stations, each of which had a specific objective. "The carnival was a roaring success, with many housewives coming down to learn more about what constitutes a healthy meal and ways to keep their blood pressure in check. With a fun and festive atmosphere, the response was very positive and many of the participants requested we hold more of such activities in the future!" said Year 1 Ezra Khor.

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L-R: Year 1 Elena Hartawan talks about health management at the carnival; and village children enjoy taking part in our educational activities

For many of our Year 3 seniors, this was their last official trip. According to Huang Baoxian, "Project Daya has opened my eyes to our neighbours in Batam, allowing me to interact with new-found friends in the NGO and also in the village. I'm glad the juniors are stepping up to serve the people in Batam and am positive that they would be able to come up with new ideas and make the OCIP theirs."

This trip has been a memorable one for us, and we are already looking forward to going there again in March, when we intend to conduct group programmes as well as continue with engaging individual households.