PBG COHESION AY 17/18
26 August marked the start of another exciting chapter in the Pro Bono Group (PBG) Story. NUS PBG convened for the first time this academic year for our annual ‘PBG Cohesion’ to welcome members — new blood and seasoned veterans alike — into the PBG family.
PBG Cohesion was several months in the making, with the executive committee striving to make this Cohesion a little different from the ones before. Key changes included, inter alia, trying our hand at ‘Soap for Hope’. This involved recycling used soap bars, purifying them and repackaging them for migrant workers, injecting some thrill with the wet war games, and providing structured training for our newer members.
Members of the NUS Pro Bono Group along with CJC staff and our faculty mentor, Professor Helena
- Training 101
As members came streaming into the Auditorium, they were greeted by President Jonathan’s friendly smile, as well as the rest of the executive committee who were just as eager to meet the members.
Firstly, the PBG members were given a brief overview of the club by Jonathan, who took the opportunity to introduce the rest of his team. He also highlighted important points for members to take note of for the rest of the year. This included the various stakeholders in the pro bono landscape, as well as “dos and don’ts” when interacting with beneficiaries, as per the guidelines in the Legal Profession Act,.
Jonathan’s opening address
- Address by CJC
Jonathan’s address was followed by an address from representatives of the Community Justice Centre (“CJC”), where they instructed students on techinques to communicate with laypersons. They also featured an informative infographic which sought to aid applicants of bankruptcy proceedings, that of which had bene put together by a previous batch of PBG members.
CJC representatives being presented with tokens of appreciation by the Faculty Advisor, Professor Helena Whalen-Bridge
- Project Bonding: Project in the spotlight – S4M
S4M Project Directors setting expectations for the upcoming year while members have lunch
During the Icebreakers, the ‘Student 4 Migrants’ project had a fun-filled hour that started with a quick round of introductions. Notable answers included people loving Batman and Manchester United. Following this, members played a quick game of “Bang”, where members had to shoot each other by calling out someone else’s names. Hilarity ensued, as all suffered equally from the infirmities of short-term memory, and each mistake was met with unbridled laughter.
After the quick ice breaking session, the group settled down for lunch and the project directors took the time to map out the journey ahead for Law&You and Project BOB. By the end of the session, the members of S4M were well-informed of the expectations of each of their projects, and excited to embark on this new journey with their new-found project teammates.
- Soap for Hope
PBG Members all smiles while reconstructing soap bars for migrant workers
A 400-room hotel produces 3.5 tons of soap waste annually. To mitigate excessive wastage, the director for corporate social responsibility of Sealed Air, Mr Stefan Phang, championed a project to reconstruct new soap bars from old ones. The project also aims to provide an alternative income stream to communities overseas through reprocessing and recycling soap bars. The College of Alice and Peter Tan (“CAPT”) mirrored Mr Phang’s work in their college, instead reconstructing soap bars for migrant workers, and distributing them during the NUS Day of Service.
The message of empowerment behind Soap for Hope, and the opportunity to share our legal knowledge with migrant workers motivated PBG to contact CAPT to come on board their project.
The entire process was broken down into four stages – shaving, chopping, bleaching and compressing the diced soap into a 150g block of soap. PBG members were rotated around various stages of the reconstruction process; amidst the labour, as well as good conversations and laughter, we hope our members got to know each other a little better while sweating it out for a good cause!
At the end of the soap reconstruction process, each soap bar was wrapped and packed with an information sheet prepared by our S4M directors in both English and Bengali. The information sheet directs migrant workers to the appropriate organization depending on the legal issue they face (e.g. salary, employment disputes). We are excited to be presenting present our members’ labour of love to migrant workers on 10 September.
- Station Games
Chloe leading an invigorating session of ‘Tricky Trivia’
A series of station games was also designed to reinforce an understanding of our key external partners, and the struggles of the beneficiaries our projects aim to help.
The stations included: ‘Tricky Trivia’ that tested our members’ awareness of the access to justice landscape in Singapore and club’s history; ‘Hectic Housework’ that recreated the business of a domestic helper’s typical day – juggling household chores and often child care and; ‘Constructive Construction’ which simulated the complexities of a migrant worker’s job in Singapore.
- War Game
Building a flag for the upcoming war game
The final segment of PBG Cohesion was a throwback to good old-fashioned play with water bombs, except that this time, sponges were used instead. Members were grouped by their projects, and played to wet the other Teams’ flags while shielding theirs.
All in all, the game was a much-needed hurrah after the buzz of 3 weeks of law school. It was a chance for all to let their hair down, evident from our game masters, who could not resist joining in the fun.
We hope that PBG Cohesion has been a good start to your PBG journey, and that you have taken away both budding friendships and a keen awareness of your role as a pro bono student volunteer.
We would like to acknowledge our shirt sponsors Allen & Gledhill, and Ms Foo Yuet Min for their generous contributions towards our event. We are truly heartened by the pro bono community’s willingness to support our activities and the larger pro bono mission in Singapore. This is but the beginning of the new academic year for PBG, but as always, our mission remains the same — to inform, to involve, to inspire.