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Cogs in the Wheel
30 August 2019

The Mondays and Thursdays group exemplify the spirit of volunteering, enhanced with plenty of creativity and innovation.

By Toh Wei Shi, HCA Community Relations

It’s a simple name – the Mondays and Thursdays Group. But beneath the simplicity of the volunteer group’s name lies a wealth of passion for the patients they serve.

Comprising a team of seven ladies, the Mondays and Thursdays Group – as the name suggests – volunteers at HCA Kang Le Day Hospice every Monday and Thursday. There is a clear structure to the activities that Manjula and her fellow volunteers conduct.

Each volunteer is empowered to take on a specific segment of the day’s programme, from researching to conceptualisation and execution. It is evident that each volunteer takes great pride in her work.

Manjula and fellow volunteers Dr Dipa, Sangeeta and Hasika guide the patients through simple exercises.

“If you are happy and you know it, clap your hands!” Manjula sings, as she guides the patients through the accompanying actions.

Well-loved for generations, these catchy children’s tunes are the perfect complement for simple exercises designed to mentally stimulate and improve flexibility. Manjula incorporates basic actions such as feet stamping and finger snapping into the rhythm of the music, making it relatively easy for the patients to follow the flow.

The Universal Language of Laughter

Laughter is a universal language that transcends language barriers. The volunteers do not speak most of the common languages and dialects that the patients primarily converse in, but friendly smiles and warm greetings help to bridge the gap.

Fellow volunteer Dr Dipa, who practises homeopathy, leads the patients in laughter therapy, which has them all in stitches. She integrates simple imagery like drinking a cup of tea in her laughter therapy, which she believes has plenty of health benefits. “It isn’t that easy to laugh, but it is so therapeutic to laugh,” Dr Dipa says. Cracking up in laughter together instantly breaks the ice, creating a relaxed atmosphere of friendship and camaraderie.

Manjula gently helps a patient move his foot during the exercise session.

It is the hospitable welcome they have received from patients and staff alike that warms the volunteers’ hearts. “Our faces and culture are different, but they have been nothing but accepting,” Manjula shares. “There is a connection and oneness between everyone.”

The Spirit of Innovation

What is perhaps most striking about the Mondays and Thursdays Group is the spirit of innovation. The drive to serve motivates the volunteers to discover new ways of extending their work, notably in the fundraising luncheons they have run in the past few years.

Gathering a group of over 200 women through their network, the volunteers learnt to prepare delicious dishes, under the mentorship of a well-known chef. The ticketed luncheons are a sumptuous affair full of love, along with performances to add a touch of excitement. The funds raised from these luncheons are channelled to HCA Kang Le Day Hospice.

Brimming with enthusiasm for the end-of-life cause, the group shares their plans to expand their scope of volunteering. “We hope to receive professional training in palliative care,” Manjula explains. “Presently, we are starting to tag along with the Medi Minders.”

The new HCA Day Hospice at Outram Community Hospital is slated for completion in mid-2020. “We plan to train new volunteers to lead the activities there,” Manjula says, a testament to the boundless spirit of volunteering.