Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him), a companion of Prophet Muhammad, narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “If a young man honors an elderly on account of his age, Allah appoints someone to honor him in his old age.” (narrated by At-Tirmidhi). The Prophet (pbuh) here advises the young ones, who will be tomorrow’s elderly, to honor the elderly.
Project LINK, aimed to honor this prophetic advice of honoring the elderly by ‘linking’ the youths with the elderly. This was achieved by providing opportunities for youths to interact, show appreciation and learn from three different groups of elderly and seniors – the senior staff in NUS, elderly residents in Ren Ci Nursing Home and our parents. Through increased interaction, we hope to bridge the gap between the two generations and spread love and understanding.
We believe that the elderly, in their old age have gone through plenty and have much to share. Thus, preceding our event line-ups, we introduced #convoswithelderly, a platform for students to share priceless lessons they’ve learnt in their interactions with the elderly. Alhamdulillah, through this simple activity, we’ve received many heart-warming stories on Facebook and Instagram. Below is a reflection of a Chemistry undergraduate, based on his observation of an elderly couple in the MRT and a reflection of a Social Work undergraduate in her dialogue with an elderly staff.
#EldersofNUS was the first event to kickstart Project LINK. It aimed to stimulate interaction between students and the elderly staff in NUS and show appreciation from the students of NUS to any senior staff in NUS. Goodie bags were prepared for the students to collect and giveaway to any senior staff they wish in hopes of sparking up an interaction and acknowledging the presence and work of the seniors in NUS. We have found that the starting is always the hardest when youth try to engage the elderly. Thus, the goodie bag acted as a means to start a conversation.
With this humble intention in mind, the hashtag was used in social media platforms to spread their experiences. We were greeted with several sharings from those who volunteered and the stories shared were suffice to know that it was a wonderful movement. Insha’Allah, #EldersofNUS can be conducted annually. It was heartwarming to see our NUS friends (even Non- Muslims) and the NUS Elders come together.
Elderly at Ren Ci
When we first started planning for Project LINK, Ren Ci Nursing Home offered us the opportunity to work with the residents there, specifically those who were wheelchair bound. We saw this as an opportunity to serve the residents of Ren Ci who have given feedback that companionship was what they desired. This also served as an opportunity for the youth to spend some time with the elderly in our community. The volunteering experience has shown to be a meaningful one with activities including a frame-making session and a talk by a religious teacher.. The volunteers got to experience their afternoon absorbing wisdom from them. In the end, it was more about how the elderly has imparted life lessons, reminders and knowledge rather the youth serving them. One of the greatest takeaways for most of the youth was to age is a blessing.
My Parents and I: Unlocking the blessings
To end off the tripartite event, Project LINK focused on the elderly that we could all relate to and perhaps the group we have most love, attachment and obligation to -the Elderly in our lives. This talk focused on our parents, who are ageing as we speak. As students, we are busy with school and may find it a tad hard to balance being a dutiful and filial son/daughter and a successful student. Held in the midst of preparation of final assignments and exams, the talk served as a solid reminder of our roles as a child to our parents. Our speaker touched on simple but strong topics such as making time for our parents, the little things we can do for them as children and what it means to have a blessed relationship with them. The turnout was encouraging and we are glad to relate such a strong message from a noble speaker.. The main message was to cherish, take care and flourish the relationship with the elders in our lives. It was a great way to end off the Project LINK as it refocuses the “Link” back to us, as we reflect on our own actions with the people in our lives.