Derek Lim – 2020 SG Silent Hero
29 November 2020 • 5 mins read
Inspiring Youth Category Winner – 2020
Nominated by: –
Derek is a volunteer with Homeless Hearts of Singapore (a non-profit organisation which befriends and helps those who are homeless) since Feb 2015.
Over time, Derek has transformed from a reserved and aloof youth who had to be reminded quite a few times to smile when interacting with the volunteers into a strong, humble, and mature young man who has even won the heart of one of Homeless Hearts’ volunteers. Now, Derek is one of the most enthusiastic and committed trainers and leaders in Homeless Hearts, who has been helping to do public speaking, training and equipping teams to do their own homeless outreaches.
Derek is highly passionate in befriending and supporting the homeless people in Singapore. Going out at night to volunteer (which can sometimes last till wee hours), he actively locates homeless people who may be isolated or potentially have fallen through the social support net. He has been doing so since 2014 without fail, trying his best to offer a listening ear to them and often times being a broker in linking them up to community resources.
While he feels that tangible help to homeless people are important, he believes more strongly in the need to form meaningful relationships with them as friends and journeying with them through their hardships. As such, he regularly schedules meals with our homeless friends to let them know that someone out there cares for them, and encourages them to never give up. During one of the meals, a homeless friend shared that he is blessed to have met Derek as he stood by him when he was at his lowest. This is highly aligned with the philosophy of the charity which he volunteers with (Homeless Hearts of Singapore), where “homelessness is not seen as a problem to be solved, but people to be loved”. Through his many interactions with the homeless people, he also took the initiative to create graphics depicting their success stories (while keeping them anonymous), to inspire other volunteers and advocate for greater awareness towards homelessness in Singapore.
Despite limitations posed by circuit breaker measures in April which caused outreach to stop, it did not curtail his determination and proactiveness in supporting the homeless people. In fact, it strengthened his resolve to help within his means. With an increasing number of people facing homelessness, Derek served as an instrumental support to the backend team by coordinating support for homeless people through online platforms. For instance, creating WhatsApp group chats with their homeless friends to regularly check in on them and sending them help resources (eg. employment opportunities, helping to source for rental flats, sharing links to financial support). When praised for his efforts, Derek often humbly says “it’s a team effort” and is eager to include his team-mates when receiving acknowledgment.
In addition to his active volunteering work, Derek leads other volunteers in doing good alike as the main in-charge of outreach. Not only does he help to train new volunteers every week over Zoom, he empowers regular volunteers in leading the outreach themselves, hence ensuring that this support network for homeless people is continually renewed and expanded. Being knowledgeable in the subject of homelessness, he often inspires other volunteers by sharing his knowledge with them, i.e. dos and don’t when volunteering with homeless people, and the importance of not judging them as homelessness can stem from different reasons. He also guides them on how to identify homeless people during recce sessions, so that befriending efforts can continue during future outreach sessions. And he genuinely cares for our volunteers too as fellow friends – he takes time to check in on them just to see how they are doing too.
Other than befriending the homeless friends, Derek also helps to plan home maintenance work for those who have just moved into their homeless flats. From accompanying the homeless friends to HDB for signing of contracts, to moving the furniture in and painting the walls, he openly lends a helping hand to them and encourages other volunteers to do so with him. He often serves as an advocate for our homeless friends, by asking others for donations of furniture so as to reduce the cost incurred from moving into a new home. He still keeps in contact with ex-homeless friends and schedule meals with them, to ensure they are coping well and maintain the friendship built.
Beyond the above efforts, he also plays an active role in community outreach to raise awareness towards homelessness. For instance, he has given talks to schools sharing about his volunteering experiences and ways they can support someone who may be homeless.
Abraham Yeo (Co-Founder, Homelesss Hearts) shared : “Derek is the epitome of a silent hero. He genuinely enjoys meeting our homeless friends and bringing other volunteers along to encourage them to share – but he himself likes to be in the background as far as possible. In fact, he actively tries to avoid getting involved with any media regarding our homeless outreaches, as his conviction is that we are not doing anything special, but simply being friends with the people we are reaching out to. He is happiest when able to just have dinner and lim kopi together – regardless of where they are from – and enjoy time together as friends.”
Derek Lim was nominated for the “Inspiring Youth” Category for the SSH Awards 2020. He was the selected winner and received award from Guest of Honour: Mr. Masagos Zulkifli – Minister for Social and Family Development and 2nd Minister for Health, at Shangri-La Hotel on 21st November 2020.
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Other 2020 Silent Heroes
Recognising humanity with an award that expresses gratitude of our society for their kindness towards fellow individuals, families, community and environment. Through this award, we look forward to inspiring more to become Silent Heroes. Someday soon, everyone shall be a Silent Hero, not only in Singapore but globally.