National Community Leadership Institute (NACLI) runs the 6-month long Leadership in Community Programme (LCP) for People's Association (PA) Grassroots Leaders from various constituencies across Singapore. One of the highlights of the programme is the Study Trip. I was fortunate to be part of the 3rd batch of LCP which conducted a study trip to Beijing.
Day 1 - 28 October 2012
LCPians bade farewell to our families at the Changi Airport Terminal 1 in the morning.
The flight from Singapore to Beijing took about 6 hours. At the Beijing Capital International Airport, we met our local guide - Xiao An - and tried the subway.
Our Guide - Xiao An
We were greeted by a Raffles City building when we exited the subway station.
After our Dinner
After dinner, we checked into the Park Plaza Science Park Hotel. In the vicinity of the hotel was a street filled with local eateries and street-side hawkers which operated late into the night. Some of us had some barbeque snacks as we immersed ourselves in the late night chill, seated on wooden stools.
It was interesting to see people having their haircut at salons past midnight. Someone suggested probably it's because many worked overtime and had to return home late.
Day 2 - 29 October 2012
Our schedule was a tight one. Morning call could be as early as 5.30am.
LCPians at the entrance of the hotel
Dedicated lane for bicycles and motorcycles
The first programme item for the day was the Lecture by Mr Lu Bin, Director-General, Socialised Elderly Care Committee on Aging population in China and its Response Measures.
China is ageing before it could prosper (未富已老). Its policies on ageing is centred upon the traditional values of Chinese society of Filial Piety and the mindset of bearing more children for them to take care of one in one's late years (养儿防老). However, the values were increasingly being threatened with increasing Chinese having to travel across cities to work.
Mr Lu shared that China is now experimenting the concept of Regional Centres (区域中心) which would provide training for social workers and support to eldercare service providers. China intends to provide 20 Regional Centres within the next 5 years. The centres would play a role of connecting the family, community and institutions, as well as strengthening networks for effective mobilisation of help to the elderly.
Funding of elderly services could also be drawn from commercialising the sector, for instance, the sizable population of elderly would provide potential for targeted marketing of products, senior tourism, and traditional handicrafts that could be sold.
Mr Lu summed it all up by saying that seniors require all the things that youths and middle-age groups require. Hence, by fulfilling the needs of seniors, everyone's needs can be fulfilled.
An extensive Q&A session commenced after the lecture.
Presentation of token of appreciation by Mr Patrick Teo, Assistant Dean (Grassroots Leadership Programme), National Community Leadership Institute (NACLI)
After lunch, LCPians visited the Chao Yang Men Street Community Centre of the Dong Cheng District Community.
Free condom dispenser
Calling for military enlistment
"Serve the People"
Interaction with the local Residents' Committee Chairperson
The Chao Yang Men street comprises 3 Hutongs. The Community Centre provides support services for elderly to age at home. Volunteers patrol the community throughout the day and question visitors on their purpose of visit. The volunteer patrol programme is so successful that the street had not seen crime for the past decade.
Dance performance by residents with Special Needs
Unique cultural song performance by elderly (Volunteer on patrol with red armband on)
LCPians get to learn singing the cultural song
Handicrafts for sale
LCPians try out some local toys
List of services
Tour along the Hutong
Reminder for families to be cautious of cults (such as Falungong)
Our LCPians making balloons for children
In the evening, we enjoyed an Acrobatics show and passed by the Olympic Water Cube and Bird Nest.
The Bird Nest
Day 3 - 30 October 2012
We took a coach to Tianjin in the morning.
We attended the Lecture by Mr Tang Zhong Xin, Nankai University on Community Building and Organisation system in China.
After lunch, the delegation visited Qing You Xi Li Community Service Station of Nan Shi Street, Tianjin He Ping District.
The Residents' Committee Chairlady greeted us
The Lou Men 楼门 culture was briefed to us. In some of the apartments, residents take ownership of the stairwells, hence negating the need for cleaning service providers. Residents also proudly decorate the walls with their photographs and artworks. Furniture at the void deck was also contributed by residents.
Members of the Chinese Communist Party who are residents, would have their names publicly stated so that others could watch over them.
Next, we did a house visit to one of the apartments. Most of the government housing were under 99-year lease.
Followed by a dialogue with the District Secretary.
The return trip to Beijing was via the high-speed rail.
At the Tianjin Station
BBQ Supper along the street
LCPians gathered at the Xia Guang Li Community Centre to await the visit to an Eldercare facility.
Family Planning info booth
The Eldercare facility catered to 18 elderly who do not have family members or caregivers at home during the day. Every morning, a minibus would fetch them to the facility for them to spend their daytime together with their elderly peers.
At the facility, there is a communal room where seniors could play mahjong and card games, as well as enjoy massage on a massage chairs. The TV also provides entertainment to them.
There are 9 bedrooms, each of which is shared between 2 seniors. The bedrooms are only used for daytime naps and resting of the elderly.
Just adjacent to the bedrooms is a Community Health Service Centre, which provides outpatient medical services to elderly.
Well decorated walkways
We had the opportunity to interact with the elderly over at lunch at the canteen, which is one floor above the Xia Guang Li Community Centre. The canteen provides food to elderly staying around the community as well as the seniors of the Eldercare facility. Food is also delivered to immobile elderly. To be financially sustainable, the canteen is patronised by other workers as well.
This visit left me a deep impression as it presents a sustainable model that could be operated to serve elderly residents within a community.
Healthy choice of food prepared specially for elderly
Lunch was followed with a dialogue session with Director of the Eldercare Facility.
We pulled over at Silk Street to do some shopping of souvenirs.
Posters bearing support of China's sovereignty of "Diaoyu Island" are a common sight
On our way to visiting Tiananmen Square.
After dinner, LCPians had a debrief session at our hotel.
To the Great Wall of China~
We found a Kopitiam.
Inverse painting of souvenir
Visit to a typical residence in a Hutong:
Calligraphy using water on common walkway
Interesting yoghurt drink
Visit to Forbidden City to understand the history and culture of China.
Interesting drawings on environmental awareness
Next, we visited Loving Heart Home, a self-help group for HIV/AIDS community. HIV/AIDS individuals are employed to help their community.
Day 7 - 3 November 2012
Activities aplenty early in the morning at the entrance to the Temple of Heaven.
Taiji Sword play
Tourists welcome to join in the activities
If you enjoyed the activities, you can also purchase chaptehs and other toys from the folks
Multiracial Emperor maybe?
Some groups were singing communist folk songs. When they knew we were a group of foreigners, we were asked to go into their midst and join them in dancing as they sing Chinese songs with Western melodies.