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You don’t have to start anything new

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Today, scrolling through Instagram, I was surprised to see a schoolmate who had started a fund for migrant workers. She was the same age, had  engaged in initiatives to help migrant workers, especially Bangladeshi workers in Singapore, had done so many things selflessly and now had started a website where you can make a monthly contribution to a fund for migrant workers. The plight of migrant workers in Singapore is horrendous, inhumane and cruel. They’re treated as disposable labour so a worksite injury that prevents you from working leaves you with a big fight for insurance and compensation and shipped off to Bangladesh silently by your Singaporean employer. Read up more with a simple Google search.

Anyway, this isn’t about the migrants but about seeing someone I had seen in school starting something very very significant and being recognised by pretty much the whole of Singapore for her work for Bangladeshi workers. It was heartwarming and then the question set in, how come she started something and others didn’t? There is also talk of doing a community project in school among my group of classmates but it is still in the talks. That got me questioning myself. I am a medical student, a female brown Tamil Muslim bascially every minority group you can tick against and am in a position to do more. Should I be doing more? Should I be contributing more to my own community as I come from a place with insider knowledge and skills? Should I be helping more, being more involved in my community? Well, what is my community? While I identified with the aforementioned classifications, I also didn’t want to be hedged in by those same fences.

Finally, I settled with doing nothing. Not everyone has to be a leader. You can be a follower. While my ex-schoolmate had started something monumental, her work also depends on others believing in her cause and supporting her either by working with her or simply contributing some money as a silent bystander. Support and following the leader is as much of a contribution as starting something new. Cooperation is as imperative as leadership. Working in a team is not less than being a leader. If everyone is a leader, then who follows?

Therefore, I’ve settled with taking care of my family, my neighbours, of checking in with my friends when they’re facing difficult times, of dropping some cash into some funds, of being happy for others, of encouraging words, of giving lots of love. I don’t have to start anything new or phenomenal. I can stay as I am and give what I can.

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