In the Co-operative Values Series, we shared about the co-operative values that will make an individual a caring and productive person and inspire individuals to come together to enhance the betterment of the communities.
This article shows one of the co-op values, Self-help in action. Read how Self-Help can help us emerge stronger during this circuit breaker period in Stay Home, Stay Safe in Singapore.
Self-help in co-op ecosystem has a different meaning.
Self-help refers to the members of a co-op joining together to make a difference. But it isn’t just limited to that. You need to have had benefited from the experience in the co-op. In short, we help people to help themselves.
Of course, we don’t expect you to attain nirvana * cue angel chorus *, but it should be something you’d want to get again and again. After all, it is self and help. It can be anything, from monetary or physical gain to some form of satisfaction.
Bursa Modern Education Cooperative
Let’s look at Turkey, a beautiful country with lots of great food and great places. But what’s even greater is the Bursa Modern Education Cooperative (MEC). First set up in 1995, the MEC is an excellent example of a co-op upholding self-help. So what does it do?
MEC helps solve the growing needy student population in Turkey, and equips them with a better future. It also helps in guiding Turkish students to building a better future, career and life. This sense of direction is something we all need, don’t we?
What’s better, the kindergartens and schools were set up by teachers and families living in the same community. This means that their children could gain admission into the school and could get a better future.
Singapore Kadayanallur Muslim League
Let’s zoom further into our very own Little Red Dot! Many years ago, in 1941, the Singapore Kadayanallur Muslim League was established in Tanjong Pagar to cater to the social, religious and educational needs of its members.
Kadayanallur is a town in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, and many people migrated from there to Singapore, most of whom were Muslim. In order to promote the learning of Tamil, they collectively built the Umar Pulavar Tamil High School (which still stands today as the Umar Pulavar Tamil Language Centre) and even named a street after themselves, called the Kadayanallur Street, near Telok Ayer.
Now, however, it has developed into the Kadayanallur Muslim Co-operative Thrift-and-Loan Society, which has about 200 members. However, children from this community are still able to learn Tamil and preserve its heritage through the school, portraying self-help.
However, in school, university or JC, we rarely get chances to embark on a group project for our own benefit, but benefit does not have to be something materialistic.
You must have heard these words quite often: service, giving back, community, growth.
And I’ll go ahead and assume you immediately thought of service-learning projects! Either in primary or secondary school, college or university, Values-In-Action projects are a part-and-parcel of life.
Even though we might not have given much thought on them before, they actually give us very good exposure to self-help! What’s more, VIAs are conducted in groups, which further promotes the idea of a co-op society. Be it a school cleanup, or helping around in welfare homes, we are taught to always give back.
Give back, as a group of people with the aim of bettering the community they live in.
I know, there isn’t money involved in a service-learning project, but the idea is the same. You join the co-op with the intention of gaining something and with the gain you have, you can help others. That’s what self-help is.
Go out there, get together as a co-op, and make an impact! Who knows, you just might earn something!
This article was brought to you by Rishi Rayapati from Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), an intern at SNCF from 9 December to 13 December 2019. Rishi likes reading a good book and playing badminton.