A Simple Idea to Serve the Community

By Joyce Lye, the co-founder of Kampung Senang Charity and Education Foundation.

‘Kampung Senang’ is Malay for ‘Village of Inner Peace’. This is also the name of a Charity & Education Foundation that I co-found in 1999 – as a day-care activity centre for the elderly. The organisation quickly evolved to provide other services for the community – a student care centre was started the next year, together with a mini-organic farm. It has also expanded its services to include a Holistic Wellness Centre that provides free Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Natural Therapy to patients, a Mobility Aids Services & Training Centre (for the wheelchair-bound), as well as child care and kindergarten services. The Holistic Lifestyle Centre was opened in June 2006 featuring an Eco-Friendly Kitchen and Café, Multipurpose hall and rooms for natural health therapy; and offers other Holistic Support such as delivery of organic food and childcare services for People Affected by Cancer (HSPC).

From a simple idea to serve the community with eco consciousness and Kampung spirit, Kampung Senang has grown into an organisation that positively affects the lives of many.

Before Kampung Senang

As a child, I was given away when I was four-months old, purely because my biological parents were too poor to raise three children (two boys and me, the youngest girl).

My father, who adopted me was a very good TCM physician. I used to see a lot of patients coming to our house to see my father. I was very proud of him because he helped these people and did not charge them any consultation fee. Later, many of them came back and brought fruits and chickens as tokens of gratitude. I was inspired by him and so as a child, I imitated my father to examine the conditions of the patients. I played with all kinds of herbs at home and I pretended as physician. I demanded my playmates, mostly our neighbours’ children, to be my patients.

Having completed my tertiary education from the National University of Singapore, I was full of zeal for a challenging and fulfilling career. Thus, I embarked on my career in the civil service, and later joined the banking and finance industry. Before the realisation of Kampung Senang, I was the General Manager of HSBC Capital (Asia) Ltd, in the area of infrastructure and capital financing in Asia.

In the early 1990’s, the conceptualisation of Kampung Senang began with a calling and hope, to revive a Village of Inner Peace, where one can find peace and restore the balance in nature. This calling was further awakened by the news that two of our Deputy Prime Ministers had been diagnosed with cancer and the Asia financial crisis. I felt the urgency to raise awareness of holistic wellness and the need for work towards the healing of our Mother Earth.

The decision to resign was definitely not easy and one that took a lot of consideration. To set up a community charity encompasses the possibility to forsake material status and financial stability, and the courage to embark into the unknown. My husband and I were uncertain of what lay ahead, yet we believed that it would be an exciting step forward in the area of holistic wellness locally. More importantly, we could walk our talk and do our small part for the society and mother earth.

Buddhism also inspired me to experience a simplified and yet meaningful life with a clear direction. Hence, I made a choice to leave corporate world and find peace at Kampung Senang’s mission.

The challenging beginning of Kampung Senang

It was a challenging journey being one of the pioneer organisations to promote holistic wellness in Singapore. With the lack of awareness on holistic wellness locally, it was also not a move that, at that time, would understand and support. To start a community charity, we faced serious resource and financial constraints. Despite all the challenges, we were fortunate to have like-minded individuals join us when we set up Kampung Senang. The faith and support from all the volunteers and members, who believed in our cause was vital.

We began Preventive Wellness as a day care facility for the elderly and now have evolved into an organisation that provides services to needy elders, cancer patients, disabled and very young children through our five service centres.

Kampung Senang integrated “Care for Environment and Care for People” as its core mission. Our guiding philosophy is the providence of holistic support and care, with gratitude and compassionate love for individuals, the community and Mother Earth.

Being a Village of Inner Peace, we seek to love and serve all in need.

Thus, with these in mind, Kampung Senang began its meaningful work with projects such as the recycling of mobility aids, and continuous effort to raise awareness on holistic wellness in Singapore. All our centres serve natural and organic vegan foods to people under our care. We promote the intake of wholesome food that is produced organically and/or natural products without any chemicals.

As part of our holistic wellness promotion, our Social Enterprise – Eco-Harmony Global Network, organised an annual interactive Holistic Wellness Symposium (HWS) to promote holistic living and reach out to more people in the region. The 3rd HWC ‘For Love, For Health, I Take Charge’ on 30 August 2011 brings together a distinguished panel of experts, holistic practitioners and environmentalists to share their specialised knowledge on various ways of healing to attain holistic wellness. The tickets are now available for sale.

Buddhism in Action

‘Promoting holistic living is a way of life & our life purpose’ – Me and my husband are both Buddhists. In fact, my husband has now left the family and became a monk (lama). Buddhist philosophy guides our work at Kampung Senang.

To put Buddhism into action will be the providence of selfless care for all beings, whether related or visible, to all we can reach out to. In our daily life, we also have to be mindful of our thoughts, speech and actions, to be compelled with gratitude and compassion. With the clarity of mind and wisdom, we work towards contributing to the release of suffering for all beings. Buddhism has provided us with the strength and the faith to continue our meaningful work in Kampung Senang, in the midst of all the challenges we faced.

To do so, I must commit to my inner calling of promoting Holistic Living and have the courage to enrol others for support. My life is anchored by a clear sense of unique simple purpose – To showcase that Holistic Living can be actualised in the simplest form of ‘Kampung Lifestyle’ and community service sectors which ultimately leads to Eco-Harmony and Mind-Body Harmony for all (both visible and invisible beings).

I did not have a wealthy family background. My husband and I were both working class professionals. Our children were still schooling when both of us decided to leave our career and go for our calling.

We made a choice, work full heartedly for it and our ‘serve all, love all’ wishes came true, one by one despite the financial constraints. We realised, when we radiate pure love, we receive even more love!

I will be Running for Kampung Senang in the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2011. Please support me by donating to Kampung Senang.