Around 400 youths gathered at the Singapore Polytechnic (SP) to share and learn from their first-hand humanitarian experiences in Asia at the 1st Youth Humanitarian Seminar.  The Seminar aims to encourage young Singaporeans to be more active and effective global citizens, through the humanitarian conduit.

(SP’s Senior Director Lim Cher Yam opening the Seminar on Global Citizenry : Youths of Today, Humanitarians of Tomorrow)

Experienced humanitarians comprising professionals and students shared and discussed principles and philosophies of, and opportunities for, regional humanitarian engagements.

(More than 400 youths from Secondary schools, JCs and ITEs gathered at the SP Auditorium to learn from the first-hand overseas humanitarian experiences of their counterparts and the professionals.)  


The SP Principal Tan Hang Cheong (of Singapore’s one and only polytechnic to provide a formal elective course on humanitarian affairs), Mercy Relief Chief Executive Hassan Ahmad (of Singapore’s very own and only implementing humanitarian relief and development outfit) and SCDF Director of Public Affairs Colonel Yazid Abdullah (of Singapore’s active participant in regional acute humanitarian crisis relief) shared on their policies and initiatives on youth involvement in overseas humanitarian missions and their impact, in a Dialogue entitled “Singaporeans are envied, but are we loved?”.

(Experienced humanitarians from MR and the SCDF joined the SP Management to share their ground experiences,policies and initiatives on youth involvement in overseas humanitarian missions and their impact.) 

Interesting break-out topics were also been lined up:

Session 1:           Social Innovation: Is High-tech the Appropriate Tech?
Session 2:           Servant Leadership: Chase Excellence, Success will follow
Session 3:           Overseas Volunteerism: It’s Good to Feel Bad!
Session 4:           Disaster Relief: Two Faces of Humanity
Session 5:           Student Involvement: Students in Free Enterprise in Action

Gracing the Event as its Guest-of-Honour, Principal Tan believed that the Seminar have triggered the youth participants to be consciously gracious, not just amongst Singaporeans but also within the regional neighbourhood.  He said, “We must realize that Singapore is naturally well-positioned geographically –protected by its neighbouring lands from killer winds and waves.  The least we could do is to translate our gratitude through helping our neighbours when they are hit by these natural calamities.”


(MR Programme Director Sahari Ani (left) and SCDF’s Head of Operations Branch LTC Alvin Tan (centre) shared their experiences and perspectives on Singapore’s Role in Disaster Relief and Sustainable Development.) 

(SP’s Diploma Plus students from the Certificate in Humanitarian Affairs course designed by SP and MR, presented their reflections from their recent development and mitigation efforts for disaster-prone communities in the Philippines.)

The inaugural Seminar was jointly organised by the Singapore Polytechnic, Mercy Relief (MR) and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).

(A lively and interactive Dialogue session with the Seminar participants  on ‘Singaporeans are envied, but are we loved?

From left: SP SD Lim Cher Yam, MR CE Hassan Ahmad, SP Principal Tan Hang Cheong and SCDF Col Yazid Abdullah.)

“”This Seminar is an excellent opportunity to enhance better understanding and interest amongst our youth in humanitarian work,”” observed SCDF Director of Public Affairs Department, Colonel Yazid Abdullah.

Responding to a question during the Dialogue session on what makes a good and effective humanitarian, MR Chief Executive Hassan Ahmad explained, ““More Singaporeans have come forward to volunteer for overseas works.  This augurs well for the humanitarian sector.  But we must always bear in mind that what we give must be appropriate to the actual, instead of perceived, needs on the ground.  It is paramount that the giving hand must shed the ‘hero mentality’ to avoid being condescending and to ensure that aid is not unreasonably imposed on the crisis-stricken communities.  At MR, we are happy when our volunteers return from overseas missions feeling bad – bad because they know that there are many others who are worse off than them and there are still much more good that have yet to be done.”

About Mercy Relief

Mercy Relief is a Singaporean humanitarian organisation which engages in both disaster relief and sustainable development programmes. It was established in 2003 as an independent non-governmental humanitarian charity responding to the human tragedies in Asia. Mercy Relief’s aid programme focuses on providing timely and effective assistance to disaster-stricken communities and has maintained the delivery of emergency aid within 72 hours from the point of appeal for assistance.  

In the past 12 years, Mercy Relief has disbursed over S$32 million in aid across 40 disaster relief and 53 sustainable development initiatives. Mercy Relief has impacted an aggregate of 2 million lives in 24 countries and areas, namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, DPR Korea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal,  Pakistan, Palestine, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Yemen.

For more information, you may call us at 6514 6322 or email

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