Written by: Migs C. Bravo-Dutt (Guest contributor)
Normally serene, the Metta Welfare Association compound was unusually buzzing with excitement last March 23, 2014 during the annual Metta Charity Walk cum Family Carnival day. Promising fun for the whole family, the day-long event was packed with a variety of activities, ensuring there was something for everyone, including health buffs, foodies, crafters, hobbyists, kids, bookworms, and those who simply wanted to be entertained by performance arts.
The event started off with the 3-km leisure walk in the morning, led by Guest-of-Honour, Mr. Lim Swee Say, Minister from the Prime Minister’s Office. An impressive turnout of about 900 participants joined the walk, which aimed to encourage a healthy lifestyle. Walking, after all, is possibly the simplest and most inexpensive form of exercise, and yet provides significant benefits such as maintaining healthy weight, and helping prevent various diseases.
Returning back to Metta building, Minister Lim and Venerable Shi Fa Zhao sounded the gong to officiate the opening of the event after their speeches.
Meanwhile at the Metta compound, hundreds of visitors dropped in, excitedly hopping from one stall to another. Navigating through a fair with so many stalls can be tricky, but fortunately this was not a problem at the Metta Family Carnival as stalls were grouped by zones of interests making navigation easier: Food Zone, Craft Zone, Stage and Program area, Uncle Ringo play area for kids at the basement. With 133 stalls catering to a wide array of interests, there surely was something for everyone who dropped by at Metta that day!
Some highlights of the Family Carnival:
- Food being key to the success of any celebration, the Food Zone was fittingly the biggest area in the carnival, easily transforming the Metta compound into a foodie’s paradise, with an incredible variety of sumptuous local delights from these participating stalls:
- A1 Bubble Tea, Bakery House, Buddhist Life Mission, Chilli Api Catering, Coffeehock (2006) Pte Ltd, Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Hotel, Di Zang Lin – Kueh Tutu (嘟嘟糕), Gan Teck Kar Investment Pte Ltd, Genki Popiah (元气薄饼), Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre, Jessica’s Delight, JOJO Coffee, JOJO Pancake, Kampung Café, Lao Ban Soya Beancurd (老伴豆花), Lim Family, Mahakaruna Buddhist Society, Metta School, Pop and Floss, Rainbow Fruit Stall, Roma’s Deli, SIA 5C, Singapore-Hong Kong International Restaurant Trade Friendship Association, Super Bean, Tan Lee Seng confectionery, The Sukha House, Xi De Li Pte Ltd, Yi Kou Wei, Yummilicious Fritters, Yummy Treats, Yuniku Na Café, Zi Yean Restaurant, 亲规 (Hamburger & Kebab), 和盛饼家, 大悲院, 家乡小吃, 心莲心, 惜缘, 慈爱 – Lok-Lok, 法华寺, 济心壇, 观音斋, 饼屋
- In the Craft Zone, handicraft lovers and hobbyists had a choice from several workshops like pottery making and batik printing, while kids enjoyed getting face or body paints. Many stalls were also selling art pieces and handicrafts:
- Metta’s very own Arts@Metta offered an “eclectic array of serendipitous finds” made by Metta beneficiaries, including tumblers, mugs, batik-printed shirts, among others. These products are also available on a regular basis at the Metta Shop;
- There were also stalls of jade and other semi-precious stones;
- A good selection of flowers and potted plants were likewise on sale, with a dainty flower arrangement going for as low as $5;
- Ceramic art that went for $1, including an alphabet art that my seven-year old daughter purchased, and which now stands proudly in one of our corner tables;
- Wire art and others
- The booklovers were not overlooked as Tampines Regional Library brought in a massive on-site book borrowing facility, which included several types and genres, from picture books to fiction and non-fiction. The latter featured a gamut of categories like health & wellness, parenting, cookery, children’s titles and a lot more.
- Discover Prata Journey – Prata Journey was an interactive, hands-on, insightful and fun-filled experience on the art and science of Prata, conducted by Kampong Group Pte Ltd. Participants were encouraged to enjoy prata making, and explore creativity in the fun and unique workshop.
- FREE Breast Self-Examination Training for All Ladies Only – In between the fun workshops, there was also a free clinic to help generate awareness for breast cancer. Brought by experienced breast health trainer from SingHealth, the session showed how to do Breast Self-Examination, gain knowledge on Mammogram screening, and much more. During the self-examination training, ladies were taught to protect themselves against breast cancer by doing monthly breast self-examination to keep them aware of any changes in their breasts.
- At mid-day, the audience was treated to a variety program, showcasing the talents of several groups of performers, ranging from singing, playing musical instruments, to dancing. This program gave students from Metta School a chance to demonstrate their performing skills onstage as they performed a high energy percussion number.In true Singaporean spirit, there was also Xinyao, characterized by a medley of songs, and a gathering of memories. Courtesy of TCR Music Station, the stirring performance likely left some audience members nostalgic – Xinyao was at its pinnacle in the 1980s and was popularized by the Chinese Singapore youth who gathered together in schools to write and compose songs just for the love of music.
- One of the most awaited segments was the lucky draw – attractive prizes were awarded to ten lucky winners, with Mdm Tham winning first prize! Some of the prizes given away included:
- First Prize: New iPad Mini with Retina Display + On Cheong Jewellery Vouchers total worth over $1000
- Second: Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 + On Cheong Jewellery Vouchers total worth over $600
- Third: Asus Memo Pad + On Cheong Jewellery Vouchers total worth over $ 500
- Fourth: Vincent Watch worth $250
- Fifth: Vincent Watch worth $250
- But even if one did not win in the lucky draw, one still had a chance to feel like a winner with the savings that could be had from the other stalls that sold basic items like Milo, noodles, diapers, among other things, at reduced prices.
- Kids had utmost fun at Uncle Ringo’s at the basement, which was transformed into a colorful play area with bouncers and an inflatable pool that looked so inviting it was a perfect foil against the sweltering heat outside that day.
Metta is indeed most appreciative of the support from the stallholders, donors, carnival goers, walk participants and volunteers who have contributed significantly to the event. A special mention to the following for their wonderful support to the event: Singapore Pools, Tote Board, JP Nelson Equipment, TES-AMM (Singapore), Changi Simei Grassroots Organisations, Lian Yick Metal Tents, Kampong Group, MDIS, Standard Chartered Bank, UPS Singapore and PTC Systems.
It was clearly a fun and fruitful Sunday for everyone made even more so by the knowledge that all the fun was for a good cause – proceeds from the event will benefit Metta Welfare Association’s many services (http://www.metta.org.sg). I can imagine it took a huge amount of effort for the organizers to stage such an exciting, big-scale endeavor. If only it does not take herculean efforts to have this event, it would be so great to have it more often than just once a year!