Story and photo by Chai Xin Yi, Republic Polytechnic, School of Management and Communication

Photo Caption: Glynn Maung preparing an Asian cuisine for the staff members of Red Cross Home for the Disabled.

From a distance, music can be heard coming from the kitchen. As I approached closer, two chefs worked in sync to prepare meals for the residents at 7am.

I was at the Red Cross Home for the Disabled, which houses 100 residents that are unable to care for themselves due to various disabilities. Some are brought into day care for the assurance that their loved ones are well cared for. However, there are also those who are without known families. Others have been there since they were children. These residents have different food diets that the chefs have to take note of. There are four main diets - soft diet, porridge, puree and tube feeding.

Soon after my arrival at the home in Lengkok Bahru, the Chief Chef, Glynn Maung Kan Min, arrived.

As I watched him cook on the line, he tasted each time he seasoned the dish. When asked about the standards of each dish, Glynn laughed and quipped, “I always tell my staff that if you don’t want to eat the dish, what more those who are unable to speak for themselves?”

Despite his strict and specific instructions for his staff, the 41-year-old listens to their opinions with interest. He treasures the importance of staff welfare as well as feedback in order to improve and plan for the future.

Donated food, which comes from private individuals and organisations at various timings are greatly appreciated. More so is the need for consistent donated food items, be it fresh, frozen or canned food. Donated food is always thoroughly inspected and labelled according to expiry dates and whether it is halal certified or not. Since serving healthy food to the residents is the kitchen’s utmost priority, Glynn meets up with dieticians every six months to refine his menu.

As we chatted in between his slicing and dicing, he recounted many phenomenal experiences when he was working in restaurants and hotels overseas. Going to Europe and working at Michelin-star restaurants has allowed him to learn the essence of presenting quality food while Asian culture influences the colourful outlook of each dish.

Listening to him really made me feel as though I was there with him, witnessing every moment that he made in the kitchens he worked in. It felt so surreal that I was talking to a chef who has an incredible knowledge of various cultures and experiences.

On the difference between a glitzy international kitchen and a relatively sparse one at a rehabilitative home, Glynn said, “Both kitchens are the same. Just that Red Cross food is donated, so it would be difficult to follow recipes. Thus we would improvise often to make use of it.”

Once lunch was prepared and cooled to room temperature, he personally sent the food to the different wards. Every door that he went, the residents’ mood seemed to lift and they show a keenness to engage with him. Whenever I went into a ward, I was overwhelmed by the change in atmosphere.

However, Glynn’s advice resonated within me, he affirmed, “I feel that our food is appreciated more because of their genuine smiles.”

From there, I composed myself and put on a smile and interacted with the residents as I followed Glynn around. Despite communication barriers, I held hands with them and felt the connection through their smiles as my heart filled with warmth.

Glynn chose this path after a personal realisation. He explained, “As I have worked in top restaurants, cafes and hotels in Switzerland and Singapore, I realised that regardless of social status, people are still wasting food. So I decided that I’m going to make use of my culinary skill by giving good food to the less fortunate.” And now, he hopes more people will take the same path.

“I hope more people will know about Red Cross Home for the Disabled and be willing to help out,” he encouraged.

8 March is International Women’s Day! We are featuring 6 #WomenInRed as we pay tribute to the incredible women in our movement and recognise that gender balance impacts our humanitarian work. Let’s #BalanceForBetter!

Ebenazer William SHOP

Meet Ebenazer William, a volunteer at SHOP+. After serving 47 years in the education service, she now volunteers at SHOP+ at Red Cross House every Wednesday.

“Men and women have to work together to serve humanity as each of us have our own gifts. For example, from my experiences at the shop, I can say that there are many instances where “brute” strength is required to move things etc. At other times, a woman’s touch is needed, in terms of counselling women and children, or cooking food for distribution.”

Kartini Saat Community Resilience

Meet Kartini Saat, who works in our Community Resilience department, finds joy in supporting people on-the-ground.

And what does she think about gender balance? “Gender balance is important in humanitarian work. It empowers and ensures equal participation of both men and women in leadership, and decision-making to address different humanitarian needs.”

Pragyan Paramita Das FoodAid Volunteer

Meet Pragyan Paramita Das an ElderAid and FoodAid volunteer. She has passion to serve the elderly and was one of our pioneer group of volunteers who supported the Foodaid service.

“ I believe in gender equity – so long as this is exercised, automatically gender balance is achieved in the process.”

Shirley Ng Blood Donor Recruitment Programme

Meet Shirley Ng from our Blood Donor Recruitment Programme. She was inspired to join the team after she witnessed her mother undergoing platelet transfusions when she battled with cancer. It was then that she realised the importance of blood donation and how blood donors can save lives by giving blood regularly.

What does she feel about gender balance? “To me, I feel that all genders should be given equal opportunity to serve humanity. Different genders can fundamentally bring in very different angles and concerns that can help to improve our understanding of the work we need to do, and how we can better serve the segments of society. This is also in line with one of our guiding principles: Universality - sharing equal responsibilities and duties in helping each other. “

Andrea Ang FAOW

Meet Andrea Ang! She volunteers her time serving as a community first aider, at national and community events and as a First Aider on Wheels. She finds joy in meeting new people and providing first aid treatments to casualties.

“Gender balance is very important in our humanitarian work. To make the casualty feel more comfortable and at ease, we ensure that a female first aider treats a female casualty and a male first aider treats a male casualty. This is because the injury or wound could be at a more private area near the abdomen or thighs. Often, these casualties are already traumatised by what they went through. Such things can go a long way to help them feel more comfortable.”

Adrienne Family LifeAid

Meet Xu Shu’En Adrienne. She visits low-income families and reads to the children as part of our Family LifeAid programme. The smiles on the children’s faces when she comes by their houses, is what drives her to keep volunteering her time.

Her thoughts on gender balance? “Women have as much to contribute as men. There should be no differentiation between genders when it comes to caring for the less privileged in our society. What the world needs is just more love and kindness all around.”