Experience of a first time volunteer coordinator

Ching Yu hang is a first time volunteer coordinator and we are very proud that she has stepped forward to make a difference to the marine environment! Here she shares with us her first experience as a Volunteer Coordinator with the Tanah Merah team.

In the beginning…
34 people, from different walks of life.
90 mins of a Sunday morning.
A 250m stretch of coastal shoreline to be cleared.

On the morning of 11 February, 34 of us gathered at Tanah Merah (TM) Site 7 for a common goal. Though not everyone among the group knew one another, we  were all gathered and united with one vision – to do our part to conserve the biodiversity of the shoreline by a simple and manual act of clearing the trash accumulated at the coastline.

Armed with a pair of gloves, sunblock, insect repellent and a black trash bag, we were set to go!

A volunteer emptying the container of sand to return it to the beach where it is needed.

Volunteers in the shallows, picking up heavy and entangled trash from the water.

A dead flower crab, reminding us of the vulnerability of life on our shores.

The majority of the volunteers who came down that day were invited by the newly appointed Tanah Merah volunteer coordinators. They organised this cleanup with ICCS as a result ofa prior meeting to recruit new coordinators.

This journey was an entirely new experience to me. Although I had been a Site Buddy at Tanah Merah 8 and 9 with National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) during the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore 2011, the experiences were different in terms of who I interacted and worked with.

As a Site Buddy, I prepared the volunteers in advance for what to expect on the day of the cleanup. I briefed them on the main details through a briefing conducted at NVPC. When they of the coastal cleanup drew closer, Site Buddies remind volunteers about the meeting time and venue. Our interaction then was mainly with the volunteers and we were able to receive direct feedback and on ground comments about the event.

Volunteer Coordinators, however, work more closely with the core ICCS team and an Organiser. This time, we adopted the role of Organisers and met the ICCS earlier and they joined us for a recce trip of the site prior to the cleanup. They provided useful advise which shed light on how to coordinate a cleanup. Now that we are better informed and have executed a cleanup, we are confident about carrying out our role as volunteer coordinators in future.

The 11th February cleanup was a good gauge of our ability and readiness to take on our role as coordinators. We put into action what we learnt from the ICCS team and were able to better envisage the situation and by the time of the debrief, could identify real-life situations that could surface in future and how to respond to those.

Debrief after the cleanup as volunteers got to know more about the impact they just made

Group photo!

At the end…
340 KG of trash cleared
Millions of marine biodiversity life relieved
A sense of accomplishment achieved