IMPACT 0347: STARTING A SUPPORT SYSTEM FOR FAMILIES IN SINGAPORE
Zulayqha Binte Zulkifli, 27, is one of the co-founders of Project Hills, a ground-up initiative that recruits volunteers of diverse backgrounds and ethnicities. They aim to provide assistance to residents of rental housing estates. They hope to connect families to at least one formal support system and ensure that they are not left behind.
Tell us more about what you do!
I am the Co-founder for Project Hills and oversee the weekly operations of my team. On a daily basis, I work closely with residents and community partners as the bridge between both parties.
The beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic gave rise to Project Hills in the heart of Queenstown. We grew from supporting 17 families with rations, to rendering various forms of support to many families living in public rental housing estates around Singapore, located primarily at Mei Ling Street, Stirling Road and Kim Tian Place.
We currently have more than 50 volunteers with different roles and responsibilities. All of our volunteers are made up of youth in their 20s. Many are working adults, while some are pursuing their postgraduate degrees. Together, we want to tackle the challenges of a post-lockdown world.
What motivated you to start this?
Project Hills officially started on April 9, 2020, to address the needs of the residents in rental flats around Mei Ling Street. Many individuals had suddenly found themselves jobless or struggling financially because of the nationwide Circuit Breaker lockdown.
Watching many people distressed about their family situation was painful. But I knew that as much as social services want to help, our hands can also be tied. So, a small group of my friends and I were resolute in identifying those who were hit hard, to offer help by providing them with essential household items to alleviate some of their financial woes.
Have you faced any challenges so far? And how did you overcome them?
Raising funds and getting people to understand our social cause was hard because we are not a registered charity or entity, leaving people to doubt our credibility. We got through this trying period by raising awareness about our cause through social media, as well as individually sending donors our financial accounts to be transparent with how the collected funds were utilised.
If you could share one piece of advice with your fellow youth, what would it be?
To continue to spread the spirit of giving beyond festive seasons, and most importantly, to give even when we have nothing.
What are your hopes or plans for the future? What do you want to see or perhaps do?
For the time being, we are looking at expanding our services to other rental areas in Singapore. Ideally, we hope to groom our volunteers to be embedded in the rental estates close to their homes. Do check out our Instagram and Facebook page if the cause we are advocating for resonates with you!