Kampung Movie Under the Stars

By Lee Mei Chuen, Volunteer Writer, SCC

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The South Central Community Family Service Centre Limited (SCC) recently organised a Kampung Movie Night at the open field of Block 55 Lengkok Bahru on 27 May 2016. The inaugural community event was well received and attended by the neighbours at and around the estates of Bukit Ho Swee, Lengkok Bahru and Henderson estates.

That evening, as I alighted at the bus-stop opposite Blk 55, Lengkok Bahru, I could see that though the event was at 7pm, the people involved were already hard at work setting up the place for the Kampung Movie Night on the field. Amidst much laughter, there were merry and warm faces as everyone chipped in to help. Youth and children were much in evidence as they excitedly helped to put up the event. Teens carrying message boards wandered the vicinity, reminding and inviting people to join the movie night, smiling at all and sundry and making silly faces at each other. Students and youth volunteers worked with the adults in setting up tables for the community stalls. Children were seen running around having a great time, blowing bubbles into the air and laughing merrily – adding to the vibrant and festive air on that evening.

Goodwill and Kampung Spirit enriched this occasion - some people came with food items and home-made “sng-pau” or popsicles to share with neighbours around, others brought their pre-loved items such as clothes, toys and books to contribute to the Goodwill ”Store”. It was indeed a giving, caring, and sharing occasion and I was glad to be there. The atmosphere was convivial, warm, and joyous, conducive to renewing and strengthening family, kinship, and neighbourly ties. Also, it was the ideal place and time for new friendships to blossom and old friendships to deepen.

Loud peals of laughter could be heard from the Face and Hand Painting stall as children excitedly lined-up to get their faces transformed and hands decorated with lovely designs. While some flocked to the free ice-cream, yummylicious foods and SCC’s Signature Rojak stalls, others made their way to the community food stalls selling Hotdogs, Satay, and Pop-corn. What was clearly evidenced that night was the sense of abundance and warmth, characterised by the Kampung spirit and friendly atmosphere all around. All the above factors led to the general joie de vivre of the place!

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It made me reflect – what really is true wealth and prosperity? As regards the many people who attended the event, most lay no claim to much material wealth. But these people were rich in their hearts and souls, kind and generous in so many ways, be it big or small. While some helped out at the event, others brought food (home-made or bought) for the pot-luck, or donated their pre-loved items to others who needed it more. These are the people who reached out to each other with unstinting goodwill and fellow feeling! For me, it was rather like a big family gathering! There was no atmosphere of scarcity that night! All I saw was rich kinship and friendship amongst all!

The movie played that night was ‘Home Run’ (跑吧!孩子) by Jack Neo. It was especially appropriate for the occasion, I felt. Set in Singapore in 1965, it tells the story of the strong bond and loyalty between a brother and sister who, though poor in material things, loved each other deeply and hence led rich emotional and spiritual lives.

I felt that the movie spoke to many at the event. I closely watched the intent looks on the faces of the audience and found that the movie resonated with both the young and the old. There was a teenager and her younger sister seated next to me on the groundsheet who were so absorbed in the movie that they only looked away at the end of the show. Most probably, they could identify with the plight of the young hero and heroine in the movie. And I am sure they felt hope and cheer when the two movie protagonists overcame their plight due to their strong love and determination. The elderly also were misty eyed as they recalled their old kampung days and the simple folk of those times.

This, I strongly feel, is not just a feel good movie. It is much more. It is a testament of the indomitable spirit and great dignity that all of us, whether rich or poor, have within us. It is a movie which shows that kinship and friendship ties will and can prevail over obstacles and setbacks in our lives! And that the 1960s Gotong Royong spirit of “Neighbours Helping Neighbours” is not just a nostalgic dream, but rather can be revived and realised in urban modern Singapore!

This event brought the community closer in many ways. By-standers standing around were made to feel welcome by the friendly youth and children there. After witnessing their innocent frolicking and bubble-blowing antics, some even joined in the play!

An elderly couple who stayed around the estate graciously accepted the invitation and arrived to watch the movie in spite of the woman’s difficulty and pain in walking. It was heartening to see the enjoyment on their faces as they watched the movie!

An elderly cardboard lady stood nearby. When I asked if she liked the event, she beamed and nodded. We engaged in friendly conversation for a while and I marvelled at her resilient spirit. She was taking care of her husband who had had an accident. Yet this spunky old lady was unfazed. She still went about her daily task of collecting cardboard for a living! She had guts and gumption and I applaud her for it.

Kudos also go to all who put this event together and made it a resounding success. They include the wonderful student volunteers from Nanyang Girls’ School and St. Joseph’s Institute, the dedicated residents who helped spread the word by distributing flyers pre-Movie Night, the hardworking community volunteers and supporters of SCC and the diligent staff who worked tirelessly to plan, implement, and execute the event.

And in true Kampung spirit style, when the movie ended, everyone pitched in with the cleaning-up, working diligently and efficiently alongside each other in picking up the litter, clearing the rubbish, and dismantling the stalls set-ups. Credit also goes to the community stall-holders for their warmth and smiling service at the stalls. They added much to the cheer and joy at the event.

Clearly, this wonderful event brought out the best and most joyful in all of us. I certainly enjoyed it!

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