Racial Harmony Youth Ambassador Programme
Started in 2002, Racial Harmony Youth Ambassadors programme has developed youth from different races and schools in implementing initiatives to promote racial harmony in the community. The RHYA’s Celebration of Festivals (CoF) series aims to foster an appreciation of diversity, promote greater sensitivity to traditional practices in communal or religious spaces and address or mitigate misunderstandings between communities. CoF also actively engages the public through meaningful activities in celebration of each major festival.
RHYAs collaborated with community partners and volunteers to share how different faith groups and ethnicities celebrate their festivities. Over the past few years, we have conducted 3-hour short programmes celebrating Chinese New Year, Christmas, Ramadan, Easter,Deepavali, and the 7th month festival.
Different activities were organised to cater to each holiday’s specific customs and theme. On Ramadan, for example, RHYAs practised fasting together for the day and visited the mosque to help cook porridge. For Chinese New Year, RHYAs visited Senior Activity Centres (SAC) and brought the elderly out for prayers at temples. Easter saw the ambassadors guiding students at Morning Star (St. Gabriel’s Primary School) in a sharing session.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, RHYAs adapted and shifted online, they held virtual events and focused on social media engagement “This was the first time in my six years of volunteering with RHYA that we held a virtual gathering, but we understood why we had to do it and wanted to make the best of it,” shared Amanda Pua, a RHYA volunteer for the Hari Raya Aidilfitri Celebration. “As we brainstormed possible activities for the residents, those of us who didn’t celebrate Hari Raya Puasa learnt more about the festival, its customs and significance. At the end of the session, we encouraged seniors to write little notes in the ketupats, which they then shared with their friends in the home. We were happy to bring some festive cheer to residents. ‘Virtual volunteering’ is great but there’s nothing like actually chatting with residents and hearing their stories.”