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‘Humbling experience’ for NUS undergrad who rallied 94 students to work at frontlines, now awarded for efforts

SINGAPORE — When Covid-19 hit Singapore's shores, Mr Ainsley Ryan Lee started an initiative called “In a Heartbeat” with two friends to raise money and buy refreshments for healthcare workers in the emergency wards while supporting food-and-beverage outlets through their purchases.

President Halimah Yacob (right) presenting the Leader of Good award to Mr Ainsley Ryan Lee during the President’s Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards 2020 held at the Istana on Oct 16, 2020.

President Halimah Yacob (right) presenting the Leader of Good award to Mr Ainsley Ryan Lee during the President’s Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards 2020 held at the Istana on Oct 16, 2020.

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  • Undergraduate Ainsley Ryan Lee Yan Bin stepped up to do his part when the coronavirus hit Singapore’s shores 
  • He came up with initiatives that allowed fellow students to help in the fight against the outbreak
  • He coordinated volunteers, raised money for three hospitals in China, among other projects
  • For his efforts, he was recognised at the President’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Awards on Oct 16

 

 

SINGAPORE — When Covid-19 hit Singapore's shores, Mr Ainsley Ryan Lee Yan Bin started an initiative called “In a Heartbeat” with two friends to raise money and buy refreshments for healthcare workers in the emergency wards while supporting food-and-beverage outlets through their purchases.

This was one of several initiatives spearheaded by the 21-year-old third-year medical student from the National University of Singapore (NUS).

In another, he got students to take up work attachments at healthcare facilities to help fight the ongoing pandemic. 

On Friday (Oct 16), he was among the 24 recipients attending the President’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Awards (PVPA) 2020 ceremony held at the Istana. 

The awards, first launched in 2012, is organised by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre and it recognises individuals, organisations and leaders that have taken action and voluntarily devoted their time and effort to create a positive impact on the community.

This year’s awards acknowledge those that have made an impact serving the community, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. There were three award categories, namely, People of Good, Organisation of Good and Leader of Good. 

Mr Lee is one of five winners in the Leader of Good award category.

This is also the first year a special commendation was given under each award to mention those not awarded, in light of the 160 per cent increase in nominations received. A total of 236 nominations were made, compared to about 100 in 2018. The awards were not held in 2019.

President Halimah Yacob said at the ceremony on Friday: “It inspires me greatly to know that in the most difficult of times, humanity still prevails…This is why I have decided to dedicate this year’s PVPA to recognising these unsung heroes who have given selflessly during the Covid-19 outbreak.”

Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, who was also at the event, added: “(We) have indeed seen the resilience of the human spirit, the creativity to respond with innovative solutions, which really come from the heart.”

He said that Mr Lee was an example of someone “inspiring a community of others with similar passions, multiplying the impact to the community”. 

The minister cited how Mr Lee helped to kickstart WishWuhanWell  — launched in January by students from NUS and the Singapore Management University — which raised S$80,000 to source for, purchase and deliver ventilators and N95 masks to hospitals in China. 

“Ainsley also co-founded a volunteer platform Volunteer SG, which has more than 3,000 users to date,” Mr Tong said. The platform lists volunteering opportunities from different initiatives and organisations together, making it easy for people to browse and apply.

President Halimah Yacob (far left) and Mr Edwin Tong (second from left), Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, talking to the recipients of the President’s Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards. Photo: Ili Nadhirah Mansor/TODAY

Through an attachment initiative called “Students Against Covid-19”, Mr Lee helped arrange for 94 students to take up work attachments with the Ministry of Health as administrative staff members.

He himself also took up the same job, joining other students in sacrificing their mid-year holiday break to play their part at the frontlines while coordinating the initiative for other students.

This initiative was later expanded, where he collaborated with healthcare groups to create opportunities for volunteers to do administrative work at dormitory sites.

Mr Lee attributed all these efforts to the support given by faculty members of the NUS School of Medicine and students, saying that it would not have been possible without their help.

“We are just students, and it's thanks to the group effort of everyone and the people around that has allowed us to help fight the pandemic in our own ways.

“Just being able to be a part of these initiatives that involve the larger community has been a humbling and growing experience.”

Two hundred students across different faculties and schools took part in the initiatives jumpstarted by Mr Lee, amounting to a total of 25,000 hours committed to fighting the pandemic.

As Covid-19 cases continue to decline in Singapore, Mr Lee has been looking into rolling out telehealth and tele-befriending interventions for vulnerable elders as part of a students’ workgroup he set up in February.

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