I got to know of Alvin Yong through a chance meeting. As we talked about what we do, we realize that we have great similarities in our belief and what we are doing, him with Kenya, and me with Nepal. So we spoke more and that’s how I got to know of this event that Alvin, together with the founders and volunteers at Child@Street 11, an independent non-profit child care centre located in Ang Mo Kio, had organized.
The Flowering of a Child was held in Vivo City through 1st and 2nd June. It’s an art exhibition of clay crafts and works done by the children at the child care centre. Most of these children are of challenging background – poor, abusive or single parents, parents serving jail terms, broken family, etc – and all of whom would not have a chance to receive preschool education if not for Child @ Street 11. By exposing the children to creative clay works and then displaying/selling their works to raise funds for the centre, the art exhibition aims to instill joy and self-esteem into the children. During the event, I managed to do a quick interview with Alvin about the event and what motivates him to contribute his precious time and energy for these children.
1) What is your day job and with your current working hours, how do you find the time to be involved in voluntary works?
I own a network marketing business ( www.ScentalWorld.com ) that affords me leverage through team effort to generate residual income, and thus ‘creating’ more flexi time for me to embark on social projects. Basically, I talent-hunt business partners, train them to become competent and capable in my wellness marketing business in S’pore and regionally, support them in building teams in similar fashion, and thus they in turn becoming self-sufficient themselves. Over the years and working together with my team, we have built up a growing base of customers whose continuous consumption due to our good service generates an ongoing flow of income stream. I do clock in 7-8 hours of work everyday on average, investing my major portion of time now in developing team capability and nurturing leaders in my group. Having a business system and people working with/for me is how I’m able to afford time flexibility and financial resource.
I also own a pottery business ( www.Clay-Street.com ) that offers team bonding program through the medium of clay for corporates, that is the platform with which I launched “The Flowering of a Child” project.
2) What is your Dream?
Haha, I have many dreams, and a big one is to be a catalyst (changemaker) for a better world. More specifically, I see myself having the passion, imagination and experience (growing still) to serve as a social entrepreneur, as articulated through my website – www.StoneEdge.biz. With my background in business, marketing, training and leadership development, and my deep interest in social transformation work embedding Sustainability ( with a capital S ), I aspire to continue playing a bigger and bigger role in connecting the haves and the have-nots, channeling resources (human + $$$) to effecting sustainable social transformation.
3) How are you working towards your Dream?
Well, I kinda started way back in 1999 with Project A-Day-in-a-Wheelchair ( http://wheels.stoneedge.biz ). Over the years, I attempted bigger and bolder “experiments”, including creating social enterprises in Kenya… they have been listed at http://www.stoneedge.biz/
Initially, it was a struggle trying to juggle with the demand of a job, trying to cope with financial restraint and limited time. I’m thankful now for having the courage to embark on a networking marketing career a decade ago (another ‘experiment’ that was initially frown upon by many friends and even family members).
2011 was a giant step when I embarked on a year long seva (selfless service) to India and Africa with my wife (Jin) and daughter (Robyn). We took Robyn out of school (sec 1) for a year. See story of Seva 2011 at http://www.coloursoflife.info/
Every year, I take a little step forward, taking in new and richer experience. Every project, my network of like-minded friends and kakis grows a little (now including another angelic soul in your good self). So, I guess how I’m working towards my dream is best described as with every breath, every day, every turn.
4) Through this event, who/ what are you looking for?
The Flowering of a Child has a multi-fold objectives:
- Kids: Most importantly, to inject an empowered memory (of artistic accomplishment) in these children of challenging family background in an attempt to shift them towards a can-do mindset for a more uplifted tangent in life.
- Parents & Teachers: To impress upon them the enlightened approach towards early childhood education practised by Child@Street11 – one that holds a deep respect for the innate creativity of the child.
- Busy Professionals: Volunteerism comes in many imaginative ways. All the Angels (volunteers) who had been part of this project are busy and successful professionals (architect, businessman, musician, award-winning photographer, artist, student, etc). The way they had volunteered to effect a whole new kind of contribution is worthy of study.
- Corporations: We hope to promote innovative corporate sponsorship and partnership. We hope companies will adopt the co-created art installations to allow the aspirations and energies of the children to live on in various locations across Singapore. This will tremendously uplift and empower the children for many years (an entire lifetime) to come.
5) When will your next event be and how can people contact you?
When the inspiration comes! When the Universe speaks, I act. For now, there is much to follow up and build on, for the flowering of a child is a life long process.
And that’s the clay art piece I’ve bought.
Now, if you haven’t already know, I run a start-up social enterprise e-commerce store (it’s for-profit. If you do not know that social entreprises can be for-profit, now you know. Don’t disgrace yourself by calling me a scam. Do your research.) selling notebooks made from environmentally paper. Check it out here – www.daphnepaper.com. I wrote a post briefly mentioning about it.
I specially choose this particular piece of clay art for 2 reasons – 1) The vibrancy of the colors used is a stark contrast of the child’s life. I imagine him to be a happy kid, optimistic and forward looking. I like forward-looking people 🙂 2) It’s flat. I need it to be flat.
The insides of the notebook are made from the environmentally friendly Lokta Paper. Now, I just hope that Alvin and Vashima could help me to identify the child who did this so I can meet him/her personally and get him/her to place the clay piece in the empty spot and complete the notebook. The intention is for this notebook to be sold on www.DaphnePaper.com and 100% of the proceeds will go to Child@street11.
I’ve yet to give it a name though. I’ll update you guys again if I do complete this project! Meanwhile, keep supporting by visiting my blog often!