Active HomeTeamNS volunteers and active fathers

For HomeTeamNS volunteers Mr Kamlesh Ramchand and Dr Lim Kai Toh, the blend of work, helping others and family commitments is occasionally chaotic, often fun, and always fulfilling.


When Dr Lim Kai Toh’s youngest son, Henry, was in kindergarten, he eagerly raised his hand when a teacher asked his class if anyone wanted to volunteer to build a dancing dragon.

“He’s very generous in terms of volunteering,” Dr Lim laughed, adding that the project quickly became a whole-of-family affair: “We got a box and made it a 3D dragon, which turned out to be quite a nice model – with a winking eye, and things like that. That’s one of the little memories that have really stayed with me.”


Dr Lim (right) and his family celebrating son Sean's (second from right) team's victory in the 2023 Singapore Young Physicist's Tournament. Photo: Dr Lim Kai Toh

Like father, like son: Dr Lim is also a long-running HomeTeamNS volunteer. He is a member of the HomeTeamNS Audit Committee, where he reviews internal and external audit findings with other members twice a year to ensure good governance, and the REAL Run Organising Committee, which meets once a month planning and preparing for the race leading up to the annual REAL Run in October.

“As a committee, we try to engage our member base in terms of coming up with a few engagements, pre-runs and trainings,” he said. “I’m a medical doctor, so I provide a little bit of expertise and consultancy with regards to medical coverage.”

In addition to Henry, now eight, Dr Lim and his wife have Sean, 16, Howard, 14 and Jaden, aged 10. Weekdays and weekends are often spent taking turns chauffeuring the boys to school and enrichment activities – Howard and Jaden are both competitive swimmers – and ensuring that Howard, who has mild autism, gets the support he needs to keep on top of his studies at the School of Science and Technology, Singapore.

Similarly, Mr Kamlesh Ramchand, an Executive Committee member at the HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir clubhouse and an active reservist troop commander at Bedok Police Division, rotates the child chauffeuring duties with his wife. They take turns waking up early to send his two eldest, Tanya, 11, and Pia, 10, to school, while the other parent takes Divina, aged 5, to kindergarten.

His girls are also busy with enrichment activities. Besides academic classes, there are Sunday morning Jiu Jitsu classes for Tanya and Pia, who also bowls for her school team and attends regular training sessions.

“I’m the logistics guy at home,” said Mr Kamlesh, who also wears strategic management and decision-making hats in his Executive Committee role at HomeTeamNS Bedok Reservoir.

He added: “I believe in being of service to the kids so that they are enabled to pursue their dreams. I demand effort over results, and I do my best to ferry them around and expose them to opportunities and new experiences.”


Both HomeTeamNS volunteers admit that their careers are no longer the main priorities in their lives. Instead, their families come first.

“Fatherhood has made me stay at home a lot more,” reflected Mr Kamlesh. “By nature, I’m a nomad, I like to go out. I’ve become more homely over the years – because I have more reason to stay at home. In addition, my very colourful language has started rubbing off on my kids, so I have been reprimanded on several occasions by my wife to watch my ‘French’!”

Dr Lim says that being a parent has made him less selfish and more patient. Formerly a corporate-level officer who travelled 40 per cent of the time for business, he changed his career path to be more present for his children.

“I do see a lot of resemblance between my boys and myself, and it makes me cognisant that you cannot do what you like – sometimes you have to be a good role model. But overall, it’s worth it to see your child progressing, growing and maturing – and hopefully, they will be successful in time to come.”

Agreed Mr Kamlesh: “It’s very important to be a positive role model for your children. Kids relate to the world through the examples we set. How we relate to our parents, how we spend our free time, our commitment to family and work – they are always watching.”

To model his daughters how to juggle work and volunteering commitments while still making time for family, he does his best to join them in picking up new skills that they’re interested in: “It’s things like abacus, or the Rubik’s cube, or coding. I may not be as good as them – no time! – but they truly respect the effort and initiative.”  


Despite their busy schedules, Dr Lim makes it a point to connect with his sons by getting them to accompany him on weekly runs, swimming together, and making paper crafts with Henry.

“I would say hey, it’s boring for me to be running alone, so come and help Daddy,” he said. “From my volunteering with HomeTeamNS, I know they also have a lot of activities over the years – not just for NSmen, but also our family members. For example, I brought the boys along to the opening of Adventure HQ at HomeTeamNS Khatib so they could try rock climbing. Two of them were a bit afraid of heights, but everyone had fun during the rappelling part.”

On Mr Kamlesh’s part, he often lets his children take the lead in deciding what daddy-daughter activity they want to do, such as playing chess or trying out new foods such as frogs’ legs.

He also enjoys bringing his girls out on one-to-one bonding trips to nearby destinations. Recently, he brought Divina to Langkawi.

Besides giving his children a chance to enjoy sightseeing and other touristy activities, he says that the trips often are a lesson in character-building. On her trip, Divina learnt to be far more independent: “I made her do all her stuff herself – like showering, eating on her own instead of being fed – so that in her mind and at her level of confidence, she knows she can do these things by herself.”

On weekends in Singapore, he likes spending time with his family at HomeTeamNS clubhouses.

Kamlesh and his family at HomeTeamNS-JOM Balestier last Halloween. Photo: Kamlesh Ramchand

HomeTeamNS facilities are the perfect places to bond. Pia celebrated her birthday at Action Motion,” he recounted. “It’s an interactive ninja warrior type of thing – very fun. I would recommend that you don’t send your kids in by themselves – go do it with them!”

At the end of the day, whichever activities you choose to engage with your children in, it’s most important to be present as a parent, advises Dr Lim: “The pace of life in Singapore is so fast – it’s tearing everyone apart, and without knowing it, there are things in life that you miss. Just being there with your kids is a significant aspect of parenting, as well as listening to them so that they will know that they can always reach out to you.”

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In The Force

An NSman’s tale of growth

LTA (NS) Sean Loh reveals how his father’s mentorship helped him throughout his National Service (NS) stint.



LTA (NS) Sean Loh was the Full-time National Serviceman (NSF) of the Year in 2021. He credits his success to his father, whose mentorship helped him to face the challenges of NS. This also helped LTA (NS) Sean discover the true value of personal growth as he became a young adult. Perhaps most importantly, it forged an unbreakable bond between LTA (NS) Sean and his father.


LTA (NS) Sean Loh receiving the Best in Knowledge Award during the 21st Rota Commander Course (RCC) Closing Ceremony.

When he was a child, LTA (NS) Sean fondly remembers his father’s captivating tales from his NS days – the tough training, the challenges faced, and the unyielding spirit of the men who face these challenges head-on. During his NS stint, LTA (NS) Sean quickly realised the parallels between his father and himself, as they went through this phase as young men. Both had experienced similar trials and he was glad that he could count on his father’s guidance.

LTA (NS) Sean credits his father’s mentorship, as it has helped him to realise the importance of dedication and the pride of serving others well.

“My father’s guidance played a pivotal role in helping me navigate the challenges of NS. He taught me to view every trial as an opportunity for growth and to remain dedicated to every task, no matter how demanding,” he said.


LTA (NS) Sean experienced a gamut of emotions during NS – joy, apprehension and even sorrow. Throughout, his father offered heartfelt advice and a listening ear. When the opportunity arose for him to defer his NS to further his studies, his father advised him to continue serving as a Rota Commander at Kallang Fire Station. LTA (NS) Sean is glad that he had listened to his father’s advice.

“This was invaluable as it gave me extra time to reflect upon my passions and aspirations. My experiences in the fire station opened my eyes to the impact of saving lives and helping others. It ignited a burning desire within me to continue this mission throughout my life, aspiring to become a doctor and heal those in need,” he added.

For all young men about to embark on their own NS journey, LTA (NS) Sean advises them to face each challenge fearlessly, and to believe in themselves and their goals.

“Adversity is the spark that ignites our growth, and every experience, be it good or bad, has the power to shape us into the best version of ourselves,” LTA (NS) Sean said. He also believes in the importance of people expressing themselves openly. While this may make one vulnerable, this also helps one to discover the people who matter most in life.

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Lifestyle On The Edge

Parenting in the metaverse: Building a digital family life

The metaverse offers plenty of immersive experiences, from world-building platforms to popular kids’ games. But what is it actually and how can parents join in the fun?



If you’ve been seeing the term “metaverse” more often but don’t know what it means, you might want to ask someone aged below 16. Just as millennial-era childhood was defined by the rise of the Internet, Generation Z – and their younger siblings, Generation Alpha – are fearlessly exploring the metaverse. But what is it?

Think of the metaverse as a purely digital world where people can play, socialise, work and carry out numerous activities using avatars to represent themselves.

These avatars can be enhanced through technologies such as virtual reality (VR), where VR headsets like the Meta Quest 2 allow users to immerse themselves in a metaverse game platform. Users can also use augmented reality – where they use their phones to scan items around their real-world surroundings to accumulate points in a metaverse shop or game.

Big things are in the works for the metaverse. Mr Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook – which rebranded itself to Meta in 2021 – announced his vision of the metaverse, in which people use augmented reality glasses to “see” and hang out with their friends at concerts or play basketball. Last year, the LEGO Group announced a partnership with Epic Games to build an immersive and engaging digital experience especially designed for children in the metaverse.

While that’s still some way off in the future, there are plenty of existing games and educational activities for families to explore the developing metaverse with their kids.


Your child might tell you that they’re “playing Roblox”, but they’re doing much more than just playing a game.

Roblox is a digital platform where users can create their own games and play others’ games, as well as use in-game currency – called Robux – to purchase items for use or decoration within the games.

The platform’s user-friendly game development tools make it easy for younger participants to build their own games, which often focus on simulated real-world experiences like school or caring for a pet. Parents can guide their kids in creating these experiences and use the opportunity to discuss the topic at hand – such as responsible pet ownership – or use Robux to explore budgeting. 

An older game, Minecraft appeals to LEGO fans who enjoy the platform’s base concept of making items, buildings and more using blocks. In survival mode, players have to look for food, fight off enemies and build defensive structures, while creative mode allows players to use the game’s resources and tools to create whatever they want – such as entire cities, replicas of movie settings, spaceships, castles and more.

If your kids enjoy a long-term project, one enjoyable family activity could be to work on building their dream house in Minecraft. Let the little ones take the lead and be amazed by their creativity.


If you’ve invested in VR headsets for the family, there are fun, kid-friendly games that can be played together.

Horizon Worlds allows Meta users to gather virtually and explore different areas, play interactive puzzles and games and socialise with others on the app through your avatar. Users can even create their own worlds.

Learn to cooperate with Cook-Out, an award-winning multiplayer cooking game for up to four players – though it can also be played solo – in which you work together to make and serve up virtual sandwiches for enchanted creatures. Prepare for frantic movements, excited squealing and lots of laughter.

To encourage family fitness – who says gamers don’t exercise – challenge your kids to a round of Beat Saber, where you slice block-shaped musical beats with a pair of light sabres, while avoiding bombs and missing notes. Party mode allows you to compete with each other, all while enjoying the game’s soundtrack of pop hits from teen favourites like Billie Eilish and Lizzo.


Young creatives will have fun collaborating with siblings or parents in VR sandboxes like Virtuoso, which provides a range of unique musical instruments for users to explore. The virtual music stage empowers both little learners and experienced music students alike, as they can create music in real-time, jam with others and even record their own songs to share.

If you have a budding Picasso in the house and don’t want to have oil paints smeared over all your surfaces, Vermillion takes the mess out of painting. Users get a VR palette with features like custom tutorials, realistic colour mixing and the rich impasto texture of oil paints, and are also able to paint together with up to four people. (This includes sharing palettes and painting on each other’s canvases, so it’s best to lay down some ground rules before a sibling fight breaks out.)


Not all of your kids’ favourite artistes or bands will come to Singapore to perform, but you can take them to a virtual concert in the metaverse.

Both real-life pop stars like Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber and completely virtual idols like South Korean girl band MAVE have held metaverse concerts, making their live performances accessible to fans all over the world, no matter where they live.

VR viewing experiences aren’t just limited to concerts. Baobab Studios won an Emmy for their VR-powered film Baba Yaga, which gives viewers the opportunity to become the main character in a fairy-tale world, where they must go on a quest to save their mother’s life and extract a cure from the witch Baba Yaga (who is played by Kate Winslet, in a cast stuffed with well-known Hollywood names). Cheer your child on as they venture into a forest, interact with the film’s magical characters and help them work through the decisions that will influence the story’s outcome.



Before purchasing a game, ensure that it’s rated appropriately for your child’s age. While Roblox is extremely popular with primary schoolers in Singapore, it’s actually recommended for those aged 13 and up if played without parental supervision, while Minecraft is ranked safe for kids aged 8 and above.


It’s best to do your own research on how game platforms are structured and what features they offer. For example, sandbox builder game Fortnite has two versions, Battle Royale and Save the World. Fortnite: Battle Royale involves 100 players fighting it out until only one remains. This means the online voice and text chat can connect your child to strangers and expose them to profanity or inappropriate speech. To prevent this, disable the chat function completely, or limit your children to playing only with people they know in real life.


Don’t be afraid to discuss openly the dangers kids might fall prey to, such as online grooming, scams and account hacking. Having the right knowledge will empower your children to keep themselves safe, and keeping the lines of communication open will ensure that they’ll come to you first if anything happens.



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Close Up

Focused on his family

Fatherhood has changed LTC (NS) Muhammad Rashid Ramli’s approach to life and leadership.



Fatherhood is a milestone in life that can forever change your perspectives. For proof of this, look no further than LTC (NS) Muhammad Rashid Ramli. Although the 39-year-old has always wanted children, he was surprised at how his two sons — aged seven and two — have altered his leadership style. 

As the Unit Commander of 14A Public Shelter and Resilience Unit (PSRU), LTC (NS) Rashid leads about 100 personnel to oversee the maintenance and management of public shelters. These personnel ensure that public shelters remain fully functional during national emergencies. “It’s a tough job and we expect a lot out of our personnel,” he says. “But now that I’m a father, I’m also more empathetic to their needs: As NSmen, we juggle various responsibilities such as work, family, and our NS commitments. It’s not easy and I want our men to be able to enjoy time with their loved ones, while doing their part for the country.” LTC (NS) Rashid demonstrates this empathy during his unit’s bi-annual recalls.


For LTC (NS) Rashid, time with his family is especially precious, given his grueling duties as an Airport Emergency Officer. Hisweek begins with two day shifts that last from 8am to 6pm, followed by two-night shifts that keep him working from 6pm to 8am, before he can have two days of rest. While emergencies at Singapore’s airports are rare, his team consistently trains and prepares for any crisis that may arise.

The long hours and tough trainings are challenging, admits LTC (NS) Rashid. “But it’s worth it — I get the same sense of purpose that I do from my NS role.” Therefore, he is fortunate that he could count on his wife, a homemaker, to help take care of their children. “Things at home would not be so smooth without her,” he shares. When he first met her nearly 10 years ago, he was drawn to the fact that she also cherished family life. “I grew up in a large family, so I’ve always looked forward to having my own family. Meeting my wife and realising that she shared the same views towards family really helped to seal the deal,” he adds with a laugh.


After a recent family visit to the Yishun Fire Station Open House, LTC (NS) Rashid saw how both his sons were fascinated by how a fire station was run. “They met firefighters and paramedics and learnt about how we deal with emergencies.” he elaborated.

Such outings are a regular fixture for the family, who try to spend as much time as they can together. Their favourite haunts are water theme parks, such as Wild Wild Wet and beaches, where they can enjoy each other’s company while staying active at the same time. “That’s important for my wife and I,” he reveals. “With two boys, there’s lots of running around, so we need to have the stamina to keep up with them!”

As Father’s Day has just passed, we asked LTC (NS) Rashid how he had celebrated the occasion. “For our family, every day is Father’s Day, Mother’s Day and Children’s Day,” he declares. “We don’t do anything special because we already make an effort to spend time together whenever we can.”


Here are some unique ways to have fun with your Dad — whether you’re a father, son, or both!

Feel like a Masterchef with a cooking class. Dads usually have a ravenous appetite, so this is one way of spending time and enjoying a decent meal together. D’Open Kitchen offers halal cooking classes.

Give back to the community. There are plenty of causes that would benefit from an extra pair of hands. Find your calling and support a cause that’s close to your heart.

The Specialist Obstacle Course is a staple for NSmen but few would have done it with their dads. Try the next best thing together: a treetop obstacle course that pits you against your father — all in the name of good fun.


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Club Buzz

Celebrating the Everyday HERoes of HomeTeamNS

At the relaunch of its Everyday HERoes campaign, HomeTeamNS staged a fashion show to celebrate the contributions of wives and mothers of Home Team National Servicemen on Mother’s Day.



HomeTeamNS relaunched its Everyday HERoes campaign – which was first launched in 2019 – with a new collaboration with fashion brand SHEIN. Through a runway show modelled by Home Team Operationally Ready National Servicemen and their mothers and wives, HomeTeamNS highlighted the unwavering contributions and support of the latter to their sons and husbands.

The occasion was graced by Ms Sun Xueling, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Social and Family Development. In her heartfelt speech, Ms Sun said: “Men and women work in partnership with each other. So, as we celebrate the heroes in our lives, and in this case, celebrate the heroic, brave and good deeds of our men from the Home Team, let us not forget their wives, their mothers, all the women around them who have made their work possible.”


WO2 (NS) Lim June Liang and Florida Liew
COL (NS) Jorge Lau and Angie Yee
CPL (NS) Sharne Jerhn DTA Sulaiman and his Mum
MAJ (NS) Mohd Rozaiman Bin Rosidi, Siti Nurbaya Ahwan and family
MAJ (NS) Mohd Shabirin Bin Ariffin, Noorita and family
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The Everyday HERoes Fashion Show accentuated the themes of empowerment and inclusivity, recognising the important contributions of mothers and wives in their sons and husband’s National Service (NS) journey.

The ladies were invited to select and model clothes from the SHEIN collection with their husbands, sons and families. The handpicked pieces was featured on SHEIN’s digital platforms as part of a new partnership between HomeTeamNS and SHEIN.

SHEIN Singapore General Manager, Leonard Lin said: “This Mother’s Day, we are happy to collaborate with HomeTeamNS to honour and celebrate the important women in the lives of the Home Team National Servicemen. The collaboration is a meaningful opportunity for SHEIN to support and empower women and their families. We are glad that the participants were able to handpick items from SHEIN’s collection that showcased their personalities and unique styles on the runway. As a global lifestyle and fashion e-retailer, there is something for everyone at SHEIN, including fashion for men and kids, as well as home and living essentials.”


In commemoration of Mother’s Day, SHEIN Collection Bracelets were presented to the mothers and wives of National Servicemen who attended the event. This new partnership and the campaign will offer HomeTeamNS members and their families access to more fashion, lifestyle, and recreational offerings.

“As we welcome more partners onboard, we will expand our offerings that cater to the varying needs and interests of our mothers, wives, and their families. We will continue to organise more engaging events and activities that aim to bring the families closer together and also some that uplift our ladies on a personal front,” said Ms Agnes Eu, Chief Executive of HomeTeamNS. 


The HomeTeamNS Everyday HERoes is a HomeTeamNS initiative that recognises the contributions of the mothers and wives of Home Team National Servicemen towards NS as a shared journey between family members. For example, mothers and wives play an integral role in sharing responsibilities and duties when National Servicemen answer the call of duty.

Under the initiative, mothers and wives of HomeTeamNS Ordinary members (with at least two years of valid membership), are eligible to apply for the two-year HomeTeamNS Family Membership at a fee of S$10 each and get 1,000 +HPoints (worth S$10) on your HomeTeamNS Rewards+ Programme. Mothers and wives who sign up or renew their family membership through the Everyday HERoes campaign can participate in giveaways with prizes worth up to S$6,000. Membership sign-ups will run till 30 Nov 2023. For more information on Everyday HERoes and other amazing perks, visit our website.

“Women have often taken on important and multi-faceted roles in the family. As moms, they take care of the household, raising and nurturing their children. As wives, they are partners to their husbands and provide emotional support, companionship, and sharing responsibility to the family, often while juggling work responsibilities simultaneously.”

Ms Agnes Eu, Chief Executive of HomeTeamNS

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Lifestyle On The Edge

Instagram makeover tips you need to know about

A home makeover to create an aesthetic vibe is easy with these inspiring tips on Instagram.



If you’re looking to remodel your home, the good news is that finding inspiration to create your dream dwelling is easier than ever. However, renovating your home to fit a specific theme – like Japandi or Industrial – can take a hefty chunk out from your savings.

Rather than following trendy renovation themes blindly – that could soon fall out of style and date your home – why not pick up some makeover tips from Instagram itself?

For a more wallet-friendly makeover for instance, you could spruce up your existing home. Some of these changes just need a new piece of furniture, while others guide you on fundamentals that you can apply throughout your home.


Putting a wall up can be a good thing, especially when it’s a curved one. These homeowners added a wall with a rounded edge to their main living space and it instantly elevated the feel.

Curved walls can help to soften the look of a space. It can serve as a design statement and add visual interest. They have strategically placed the curved corner at a central location, so it can transform the visual mood from multiple angles. And because the curve is only applied to the corner, the cost is reduced and occupies less space than a full wall. Plus, it’s safer if you have kids.


Architect Khai Toh believes that the best Insta-worthy shots work because of visual storytelling. You can do this in two ways: Adding a pop of contrasting colour to the existing home palette, or creating pockets of activity – like an armchair to read at.

The first is easy, and rather than just relying on furniture, consider items like paintings or a shelf of books to add dynamism to your pictures. Otherwise, you could also paint a single feature wall to add that visual interest.

The second works because the way the items are placed suggests an activity the homeowner partakes in. Khai explains: “What draws me into a picture is the used space; like half-open books or a pen by a sofa – as if someone had just left the spot”.


Photo: Rice Lab

This company shows off the variety of possibilities available today, including sophisticated designs that appear seamless with clever visual illusions. Textures – unlike colours and forms – are often overlooked when designing homes, and you can include them easily with the right kind of tiles, even if it’s just in one room. Whether placed on the floor or a wall, their addition can transform a space, giving visual and tactile interest just by adjusting some lighting.


Photo: Shutterstock

Combining two of the earlier points about colour and texture, a throw can instantly elevate your existing home setup. These mini decorative blankets might not make much sense in their original function in sunny Singapore, but they can serve another purpose – as an added layer of protection against dust, grime and sunlight.

A throw can be placed on a sofa, armchair, bed or even a side table to add a pop of personality, and with the many designs and materials out there, you’ll likely find one that speaks to you and fits your home. You don’t even need to buy proper throws. Experiment with mufflers or scarves to get the same effect without spending too much.


When designing a home, we can sometimes lose ourselves to a theme. Magazine and social media-inspired designs might be great but it can feel strangely cookie-cutter if it doesn’t align with your own lifestyle. For instance, a minimalist design theme might appeal to you but may not be realistic if you have three kids and a dog.

Don’t be afraid to inject your own personality with hybrid styles. A colourful dog bed or play station might be just what is needed to differentiate your white walls. Add your favourite sci-fi toy, crocheted cushion cover, vinyl record – these will give your home your unique visual signature.


Photo: @lighkdarkstark_studio @jannonkwan and @lemonfridgestudio

The right kind of lighting can really impact in a photo, and it does so in three ways. First, having dedicated points of lighting can quickly add visual points of interest as well as suggest areas of activity, like a standing lamp by an armchair. Secondly, you can quickly transform the ambience with different lighting temperatures, especially with hue-changing bulbs.

Lighting can be statement pieces themselves. In this example, the off-kilter lights adds levity to the space with their playful angles. If fixed lightings are too fussy, consider portable versions and LED lighting strips to tuck light into neglected corners for depth and interest.


Sometimes the best inspiration comes from places you already love and know. Where’s your happy place? Is there somewhere you go to that makes you feel particularly relaxed?

Why spend all that money at (sometimes) overpriced cafes when you can recreate the café vibe at home? This local design installed a wall seating on one side of the dining table to simulate a cafe, with side embellishments. So be it a spa or bar or hotel room, let your favourite hangouts become your source of inspiration.

Combine one or more of these tips to spruce up your home, and see how easy it is to make it more photogenic. HomeTeamNS members can shop for more chic inspiration ideas at HipVan and enjoy 10 per cent off when they spend a minimum of $500 there.

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In The Force

Our Role Model: A Father’s Day Special

This father, also a Citizens on Patrol volunteer shares why it’s important to be a role model for his children.



Portrait photographer Anne Geddes said: “Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.” On this special Father’s Day feature, Mr Shankar Tarakad, a Citizens on Patrol (COP) volunteer, shares his story of being a father and a Home Team volunteer.


As a COP volunteer, Shankar works with a team of volunteers to keep the area around River Valley, Havelock and Lower Delta safe. They patrol in groups of four or more, ready to answer any questions raised by residents. He shared, “The goal is to allow the residents to reach out to us when we patrol while keeping a visible presence of law, and keep Singapore safe.” Additionally, Mr Shankar also volunteers as a Crime Prevention Ambassador (CPA), which is also part of the Home Team Volunteer Network.


Shankar emphasised, “As a father, I believe children will learn by example when they see their parents stepping out to do something meaningful like volunteering. It allows them to see another perspective of life. This is something I truly believe in.” Since young, his children have witnessed their parents volunteering in many other organisations such as the Community Paying it Forward (CPF) and Samaritans of Singapore (SOS).

Through his volunteering efforts, his children learned that there is a positive impact in helping the community.

His son, Anshul Shankar, who is currently serving his national service with the Singapore Civil Defence Force, as well as his daughter, Anusha Shankar, mentioned that their parents passionately spend their free time volunteering and share with them their voluntary work experiences. In turn, they understood the importance of giving back to the community and being involved in their neighbourhood and society.

Mr Shankar with his family (from left): his daughter Anusha, his wife Anupama Puranik and son Anshul.
Mr Shankar with his family (from left): his daughter Anusha, his wife Anupama Puranik and son Anshul.


Shankar discovered by being a volunteer, it teaches him many valuable lessons in life such as:

  • Two-way street communication: You learn from people and you impart your knowledge to them at the same time
  • Widen your vision to the undiscovered: You learn more about the neighbourhood and the residents. Besides giving crime prevention advices, patrolling comes with many “perks”. For example, Shankar now knows which fruit shop sells fresher and cheaper products than supermarkets. He also discovered new food stalls that he now enjoys, such as the Char Kway Teow at Zion Rd.
  • Fulfilment in life: Your life will feel complete and meaningful by doing things that you are passionate about and at the same time, benefitting the community.

Shankar’s acts of kindness and generosity in volunteering showed us that life is more than just work and family. 

Get to know Mr Shankar better through a game of ‘This or That: COP Edition’.

Find out more how you can make a difference in your community. Volunteer with the Home Team Volunteer Network today! You can also check out our Instagram and Facebook Page, @htvolunteers, to learn more about the 11 schemes.

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Then and now: Lazarus Island

Lazarus Island, once a penal colony, is now home to Singapore’s first tiny house accommodation – as well as a host of fun activities on land and at sea.



Lazarus Island has long lain in the shadow of its more developed sibling, St John’s Island. But now it’s time for this hidden gem to shine among Singapore’s Southern Islands, and welcome visitors seeking sun, sand, and surf in an unspoiled setting.

Earlier this year, Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) announced that it was launching sustainable, ‘light-touch’ visitor activities on Lazarus Island, starting with Tiny Away Escape @ Lazarus Island, a uniquely small-scale accommodation operated by Singaporean tiny house ecotourism provider Big Tiny. More amenities and activities will soon follow, according to SDC.

No longer a well-kept secret among beachgoers and nature enthusiasts, Lazarus Island is ready to take its place in the sun. But how well do you know the island’s history, and what the future holds for it?


Before the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles, the Southern Islands of Singapore – and Singapore itself – were inhabited by the Orang Laut, or people of the sea. They called Lazarus Island Pulau Sekijang Kechil while the larger St John Island was termed Pulau Sekijang Besar.  

When the British arrived, the islands became collectively known as the St John’s Islands. It is thought that a corruption or mishearing of ‘Sekijang’ by the British resulted in the name St John, while the isolation hospital for contagious diseases built on Lazarus Island – termed a lazarette – gave the latter its name.

Another version of how both islands got their names states that two missionaries – named St John and Lazarus – on board Raffles’ ship were asked to disembark on the islands to look for water. St John was unable to find any water on the island he stopped at, while Lazarus found a spring.


In 1873, a cholera outbreak on the mainland killed 357 people, which led to the building of quarantine facilities on St John’s Island where migrants – especially those from China, who formed the majority – could be observed for signs of contagious diseases such as smallpox or cholera.

During the same period, Lazarus Island was home to several inmate confinement sheds that were later abandoned when a prisoner escaped. The sheds burnt down in 1902, leaving the island to function as a graveyard for quarantined migrants who passed away.

By the 1960s, Lazarus Island transformed yet again – this time into a radar base for civil aviation. A decade later, it was slated for recreational uses under SDC management.


Lazarus Island is currently a popular choice for families and individuals looking to reconnect with nature.

A short ferry ride (20 minutes from Marina South Pier, or 15 minutes from Sentosa Cove) followed by a stroll across the causeway between St John’s and Lazarus Islands will bring you to the latter’s beach, which some say is the best in Singapore. Its wide sandy expanses are perfect for activities like sunbathing, kite flying, and a game of beach volleyball. A row of trees also provide much-needed shade for picnics (be sure to bring enough food, drinks, and other necessities, as there are no shops yet on Lazarus Island).

Adventurous explorers will want to rent a bicycle at the Gogreen Southern Island Bicycle Rental to explore the island on two wheels, while those who prefer to explore the Lazarus Island lagoon can choose between kayaking and stand-up paddling.

As the island boasts a healthy reef eco-system, snorkelling and catch-and-release fishing are also fun options. If you plan to swim, do watch out for strong currents around the island’s coastline.


Tiny Away Escape @ Lazarus Island offers five Tiny House units for guests looking to reconnect with nature. These eco-friendly accomodations are powered by solar energy (PHOTO: Tiny Away Escape @ Lazarus Island Facebook page).

In the near future, more non-motorised water activities will be launched alongside other attractions such as overnight glamping experiences. But in the meantime, book yourself a little vacation at Tiny Away Escape @ Lazarus Island.

The five Tiny House units – which measure between 150 to 170 square feet – are decorated according to themes, such as unit 1900, which has a colonial black and white aesthetic, or unit 1960, which is inspired by industrial design. And yes – for those wondering, air-conditioning and wi-fi are included.

More importantly, they are powered by solar energy and feature eco-friendly features such as biodegradable shampoo and body wash, as well as high-tech food waste recycling systems, so that visitors leave almost nothing but footprints on the beach when they depart.

If you’re taking the kids on a green vacation, why not let them get involved with a trash-picking activity? Organisations like Our Singapore Reefs often hold beach clean-up activities at Lazarus Island, but if you want to start your own clean-up, check out these useful guidelines from the Public Hygiene Council. Keeping Lazarus Island clean will ensure it remains a beautiful natural retreat for generations to come.


Planning to head south to Lazarus Island over the weekend? Here are some tips on how to be an environmentally conscious visitor.


In this case, the ‘B’ stands for bag, as in, bring your own bag for trash so that you can take your rubbish with you when you leave. Even better, bring several bags so that you can divide recyclables from waste as well.


If you’re disposing food waste, tie your bag securely and keep it out of sight. In addition, be sure not to leave even a stray food wrapper behind. The last thing you want is for the island’s resident macaques to develop a junk food habit – and to begin accosting visitors for more.


Similarly, teach your children not to touch wildlife. Creatures living in marine environments like the cone snail or jellyfish can deliver a nasty sting. To learn how to react when you spot common animals such as monitor lizards and snakes, check out this handy guide from the National Parks Board


A beach day with your favourite tunes blasting out from a portable speaker is undeniably fun, but when the volume is too loud, nature pays the price. With noise pollution, many animals cannot rely on their hearing to hunt prey or escape predators. It also affects the visitor experience and mental wellness of other people looking for some peace and quiet in nature.


Bringing home shells from the beach is also highly discouraged, as it disrupts the island’s fragile ecosystem. Besides being used as shelters by hermit crabs or even fish, shells play host to algae, sea grass and microorganisms, while birds use them in their nests. Instead of taking home a shell for memory’s sake, take a picture instead (the best part: you can take as many photos as you want).


For more ideas on eco-friendly activities that are fun for the whole family, click here.

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What I learnt from playing Honkai: Star Rail

Gamer Mary Wu reveals beginners’ tips, hidden features and how this massively popular video game can help you level up in life.


“As a “semi-retired” gamer girl with a busy IRL (In Real Life) schedule, I’m extremely selective about the titles I pursue in the virtual world. Of late, I’ve been plugged into the virtual worlds of HoYoverse, a Chinese video game developer known for open-world action role-playing game (RPG) Genshin Impact, and recently, Honkai: Star Rail, another RPG that was released in April.

It is a wonder the game doesn’t lag, with a deluge of gamers flooding its servers 24/7. According to reports, it has been a runaway success, and recorded over 20 million downloads in just one day. Many of these players include HoYoverse returnees like me, who were enraptured by the cute yet realistically animated characters, smooth gameplay (even on mobile), intricate storyline and easy-to-learn battle mechanics. Did I mention that the graphics are gorgeous?

But before you dismiss Honkai: Star Rail (available on PC and mobile devices) as another battery-draining, storage space-eating monster (you need at least 10GB), here are some life lessons I’ve gleaned from this surprisingly thoughtful masterpiece.”



“As with life, not everyone is on equal footing and we all want to start out strong, right?

I start my journey in Honkai: Star Rail as a disoriented Trailblazer who has no recollection of who they are. Rescued by a faction that goes on space missions (and that I eventually join), I discover that there is a mysterious power imbued within me. I’m intrigued by such “chosen one” plots, so let’s go!

An RPG with a “gacha” system – inspired by its namesake toy capsule vending machines – Honkai: Star Rail entices players to purchase in-game mystery items as they advance. You can obtain new characters and Light Cones (items that provide boosts) by spending tickets. The game calls this Warping. New players will get their first Warp for free, but the character they get is totally random. However, players can earn their tickets to roll for characters and Light Cones as they play – but of course, it would take a lot more effort and time.

Thankfully, in this game, rerolls for a better outcome are possible! There is a pity system, in which a player will be guaranteed a 5-star character after a certain number of rolls. So, players can technically save their tickets for a future character that they want through playing the game.

By the way, Patch 1.1 just dropped on 7 June, bringing you three new playable and strong characters, as well as other fantastic in-game items. This is why “gacha” style online RPGs never get boring.

Gamer Mary W didn’t get Bronya, but I got four-star Herta (pictured, middle).
I didn’t get Bronya, but I got four-star Herta (pictured, middle).

If you’re aiming for a top-tier, ultra-rare character like Bronya, time and patience must be on your side. She’s awesome not only because she’s a five-star character but also as she excels as a powerful support for the team, especially in the game’s late stage, when enemies are much stronger. One of her most sought-after skills is enabling your hard-hitters to have two turns per round. 

To reroll, not only do you need to create new game accounts, you’ll also need to keep replaying the lengthy tutorial (think, 30 minutes or more, depending on your gaming style).”


“I’ll admit that my impatience has gotten the better of me, in reality as well as virtual worlds. Having played other RPGs, I sped through Honkai: Star Rail’s tutorial and skipped as many stories as I could to save time (please don’t, the content is rich).

Did I tell you how many times my entire team got pawned on the battlefield? Sometimes, we lost to even low-level minions just because I didn’t bother to read or upgrade my characters and barrelled through the game, hack-and-slash style, using the auto-battle function.

While this is just a game with little consequence, playing Honkai: Star Rail reminded me that impatience and over-confidence won’t get me anywhere. I need to understand the situation before rushing in headlong, without a plan.

The importance of teamwork was another crucial takeaway. Your most powerful character can’t tank all the enemies alone, just as the most capable person can’t do everything on their own. It helps if you understand your character’s strengths and weaknesses, and figure out how your team would help make up for that weakness.

In addition, synergy is key. There’s no point combining four top-tier characters in a team if they can’t support one another. I needed a mix of the following: a main damage dealer, characters for healing and protection, and one that can execute an area attack.”


“You know those games that are so relevant, pop culturally speaking, it feels like you’re interacting with a friend? Playing Honkai: Star Rail, I’ve encountered references to the metaverse and —  possibly — Netflix animated series Castlevania, which players can banter about on a messaging system that looks like WhatsApp. It’s nice to have a game that stays on trend, and this is possible due to the frequent updates available to those with a stable internet connection.

I’ve also read about Easter Eggs such as (spoiler alert) the appearance of twins that pay homage to the movie: The Shining’s creepy sisters — definitely not looking forward to encountering them while playing at 3am!

So far, the game’s hidden surprises have amused me to no end. I wonder if I’ve invited weird stares on the MRT for giggling to myself. But why take things so seriously when you can have fun?”


Having spent a significant amount of my spare time engaged with Honkai’s heroes and riding its Astral Express (the space train that allows you to travel across galaxies), I can safely say that I regret nothing. Yup, it kept me up till 3am. My phone overheated on one occasion. And it took time for me to get used to the in-game terminology for the usual character boosts, skills and levelling up. But it was all part of a process that uncovered a new virtual world and levelled up my patience and determination.

If you’ll excuse me, I’ll get back to my game now.”


Back in her university days, Mary Wu spent time levelling up in video games instead of her studies (oops). Thankfully, she turned out okay and now has since evolved into a casual gamer who balances virtual reality with life and work.

Healthy gaming habits from Mary Wu

  • Minimise eye strain from screen time by looking into the distance every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds. It helps that Honkai has a pause button.
  • As a former hardcore gamer, I once stayed awake for 48 hours at a stretch. Don’t sacrifice your health like I did and remember to set a timer so you get enough sleep, have your meals on time and interact with your family.
  • Be mindful of your posture. When we are too caught up in something, we may slouch or “sit like a banana”. This could result in “text neck”, where the neck muscles are strained, among other issues.
  • Exercise self-control. If you choose to spend your hard-earned money purchasing virtual items and characters, set a budget – no matter how strong the temptation to splurge.

They say that old is gold – let the nostalgia kick in as you play classic games such as Street Fighter and Tetris with your buddies at our ManCaves at the Khatib and Bedok Reservoir clubhouses, which are equipped with game consoles.

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Lifestyle Shape Up

What is altitude sickness and how do you prevent it when climbing mountains?

Learn how to prevent the condition that has led to tragic consequences for mountaineers during one of Mount Everest’s most treacherous seasons.


In May, a Singaporean climber went missing after reaching the summit of Mount Everest. He was reportedly suffering from frostbite and altitude sickness when he got separated from his group. The news, which came amid a spike in fatalities on the world’s highest mountain, raised questions over whether a rising number of inexperienced climbers and guides led to this. What’s certain, is that another factor partially responsible for many of the deaths that occurred this year is altitude sickness.

According to American academic medical centre Cleveland Clinic, altitude sickness may occur in up to half of people who climb to elevations above 8,000 feet (2,440m). It is caused by ascending too rapidly, which doesn’t allow the body sufficient time to adjust to reduced oxygen and changes in air pressure.

Don’t ignore the signs

As mountain climbing becomes increasingly popular, being aware of the risks and red flags of altitude illnesses is key to a safe experience. The mildest form of altitude sickness — which can usually be treated by over-the-counter medication — is known as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), with symptoms that recall a hangover. This can deteriorate into High-altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE), a life-threatening build-up of fluid in the lungs, and High-altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE), a severe condition where there’s fluid in the brain. Such cases require immediate medical attention.

Regardless of your climbing expertise, all high-altitude adventures come at a risk of potentially life-threatening altitude sickness, points out Mr Vijay Kumar, director of SGTrek, an outdoor travel platform that offers mountaineering expeditions. “Even experienced climbers may fall victim to altitude sickness if they disregard proper acclimatisation practices or ignore their body’s warning signals,” he explains. 

With that being said, individuals at higher risk of developing altitude sickness include those with lung or heart conditions, pregnant women and climbers who live at low elevation — such as in Singapore.

Mr Vijay adds that in some cases, climbers may benefit from using medication like acetazolamide (Diamox) to prevent and reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness. However, it is important to discuss this option with a medical professional before use.

Never underestimate the mountain and its challenges, Mr Vijay cautions, adding that “the key to preventing altitude sickness is a gradual ascent, allowing the body to acclimatise to higher altitudes”. “Listen to your body and be aware of any symptoms of altitude sickness. If conditions or circumstances become unsafe, be prepared to turn back. The mountain will aways be there and your safety should be top priority,” he emphasises.  It is also important for people with medical conditions to obtain a doctor’s clearance before embarking on a high-altitude hike. 

Being physically and mentally prepared, and taking the necessary precautions during ascent can reduce your risk of developing altitude sickness. Here are more tips for ensuring a safer and enjoyable climb.

Sources from: WebMD, SGTrek, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Livestrong, and Cleveland Clinic.

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