Singapore experienced one of its worst Haze Crises on record in September 2015. As headlines continually quantified in numbers the smog in front of everyone’s eyes and the resulting frustration, Lim Hsyen was busy crowdfunding to buy masks for cleaners in NUS, sourcing for mask distributors, and activating his friends to help distribute the masks. His thoughtfulness for the less fortunate earned the attention of the University, which facilitated his efforts by helping to distribute the masks.
Hysen’s “NUS Mask for Cleaners Initiative” also received coverage in the local media, which helped to inspire similar initiatives such as the “Mask Outreach 1.0” that saw groups of FASS undergraduates distributing masks to the Bukit Merah Rental Flats. Hysen’s heart for the community was deeply inspirational for many, and the Faculty rewarded his efforts with a FSLA Individual Award in Academic Year 2015/2016.
Please enjoy our interview with him below!
Could you tell us about your work on Masks for NUS Cleaners and your motivations for initiating it?
I started the Masks for NUS Cleaners initiative in 2015 during an especially long period of haze. While walking around U-Town, I realised that the cleaners on campus were not wearing masks with adequate protection, or even at all. With the lessons and values I cultivated from my residence at CAPT, I talked to the cleaners to find out more about their situation. With the understanding that appropriate masks were not provided for them, I decided that I would use my social media pages to crowdfund and buy the masks for them. At the same time, I went around looking for suppliers who were willing to help me in this cause. Thankfully, I managed to raise enough funds from NUS alumni, current students, relatives and friends within 12 hours.
What was the impact of your project?
Through the initiative, 800 masks were distributed to the cleaners within a day. Most importantly, it inspired my friends to do something meaningful during the haze period.
What challenges did you face while working on it and what motivated you to keep going?
I was questioned by some friends who thought that I should be spending my time revising for the mid-terms instead. However, I realised that this was not what university education is about. There are so many causes and initiatives out there that we as university students can contribute towards, but we often get so engrossed with our academics that we forget about the true purpose of education.
Are there any other projects you have worked/are working on?
I also helmed the Inter-Faculty Games for FASS in 2014. My team initiated the sale of T-shirts to help fund our sportsmen and sportswomen.
What have you been up to since you graduated from NUS?
I’m currently doing research and marketing in one of the Ministries.