Braving a typically hot, sunny Singapore morning, 28 members of the Embassy Singapore community marked World Water Day on March 20, by teaming up with local NGO Waterways Watch Society and dozens of volunteers to remove litter along the Singapore River and raise awareness about water resource management. Famously clean and tidy Singapore usually relies on migrant laborers to remove litter before it becomes an eyesore. But Ann Giri, Director of Waterways Watch, says that's part of the problem--many Singaporeans, especially young people, take water resources for granted and litter, confident that someone else will pick it up and without thinking that their garbage could find its way into Singapore's water catchment areas. The trashy results were all too apparent last Sunday to the Singapore students and embassy members who, armed with tongs and garbage bags, removed all sorts of debris, working up a sweat for a good cause.
Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, personally thanked embassy representatives for helping out with the river cleanup. Minister Yaacob took part in the cleanup activity, as did other senior Singaporean officials. Water security has played an important geostrategic role for Singapore since independence in 1965. As an island nation about the size of the Washington D.C. area within the beltway and a population of five million (and growing), water resources are a vital national security concern. Fittingly, the city-state celebrated this year's World Water Day theme of urban challenges with events underscoring Singapore's strides towards water independence and resource management.
Watching embassy volunteers ranging in age from three to "very senior" pick up litter in a foreign country, a local NGO member asked Public Affairs Officer Rachel Ehrendreich “Why is the embassy doing this [cleanup]?” Rachel took the opportunity to talk about Embassy Singapore's active Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) committee and our commitment to community involvement. Our CSR committee has at least one activity per month, teaming up with local organizations to help out with various projects in the community we currently call home. Over the past several months, the CSR committee has provided meals for families staying at the Ronald McDonald house, helping out during a stressful time as families care for hospitalized loved ones. We've taken part in "fun runs" to raise money for cancer research. Next up is a bowling night fundraiser with local special Olympians. And we're already gearing up for Earth Day activities next month. Through events like World Water Day, we're steadily working towards the goal outlined by Ambassador Adelman of each employee contributing to at least one CSR-related activity in 2011.
For more photos from the event, click here.