HOME’s Inaugural Diwali Fundraiser 2018

A reflection by Audrey Rare, a HOME Shelter volunteer

28 November 2018

Cover Rangoli Art.jpg

I’m not much of a Halloween person, having grown up in Australia where it is a relatively recent newcomer (I’m prone to hiding indoors on Oct. 31).  On the other hand, the Indian Festival of Lights, Diwali/Deepavali has always fascinated me with it’s celebration of light over darkness; incorporating colours so bright that one’s senses can be overloaded and a pervading sense of joy surrounds everyone participating.

As a fairly new volunteer at the HOME shelter, to my delight, HOME’s first fundraiser was announced as a Diwali celebration on Oct 31, which meant I would not be hiding indoors from trick or treaters!

On arrival at Agape Village I was greeted by a beautiful piece of rangoli art created by a HOME volunteer. I was welcomed very enthusiastically at the door by smiling women who stamped a bindi on my forehead, then supplied me with wine vouchers to taste the beautiful wines selected by BYOB Nation, a ticket for the lucky draw prize (High Tea for Two that Royal Plaza on Scotts Singapore  donated), and a beautifully wrapped door gift donated by Lush SingaporeFloral Garage Singapore graciously donated flowers and bouquets, which HOME volunteers used to decorate the hall and stage, which were bursting with splashes of colourful flowers. Such generosity from HOME’s sponsors!

Asked if I would like to have an mehndi applied, I quickly jumped into the seat having never had henna  applied to my skin before. The end result was a delicate design that I admired for the coming week. There was also a fun photo booth where we could pose with various props (you can admire the lovely photographs taken by HOME volunteer photographer Ruey Loon in our album above and also on HOME’s Facebook page) . What a wonderful start to the evening.

An impressive array of beautifully outfitted HOME volunteers then proceeded to kick off the evening’s activities that began with the lighting of the lamp. Thoughtful and thought-provoking speeches were given by Jofel & Hassan. Jofel is the shelter leader at HOME and provides support and leadership to the women living at the shelter.  She is an inspiration to many, finding time to write creatively regarding her experiences as a migrant domestic worker, while Hassan first came to HOME looking for help after a serious workplace injury that his employer refused to report (being the sole provider for his family, this was a very stressful time).  Since then Hassan has been volunteering with HOME, providing translation and assistance to his fellow Bangladeshi workers seeking assistance. 

A student from the Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society opened the show with a mesmerizing classical performance which left us in awe of the beauty of the performer and the performance.

The Indian Women’s Association of Singapore co-ordinated performances that kept us thoroughly entertained, including a beautiful classical Kathak dance presenting a tarana. The IWA’s Music Club  energized us with a peppy song medley from classic Bollywood movies—the performers absolutely killed it! The dances journeyed through different regions of India (Rajasthan, Punjab, Bengal, Northeast, Southern India and Maharashtra), showcasing different genres of dance forms. What made the performances even more enjoyable was the fact that the skilled performers were having so much fun, engaging the audience and livening up the atmosphere. All this culminated into one big dance-off, with everyone joining in.

Shamiana Restaurant prepared a delicious mouth-watering vegetarian feast which was greatly appreciated by everyone (especially myself), judging by the heaped plates and happy contented faces at all the tables.

Many volunteers worked very hard to provide a wonderful evening for all the people who were able to come and support HOME at its first fundraiser. Personally I would like to thank you all for the coordination and execution: the setting up, cleaning up and packing down. 

I realise that all the work HOME volunteers do for migrant workers would not be possible without the generous support from HOME’s many partners, sponsors, corporate donors and individual donors (if you are interested in the full list of HOME’s partners, sponsors & donors you can find them on HOME’s website—just open or download the  2018 Annual Report).

I hope that this does become a regular event (hence my cheeky use of ‘inaugural’ at the top of the page).

So if you could not make it this year, keep your eye out for the next fundraiser —it’s guaranteed to be shiok!

Stephanie Chok