SINGAPORE (Sept 14): Fifteen-year-old Adam (not his real name) lives in a one-room rental flat with his mother, two other siblings, and a 3-year-old niece.
His mother, now only 38, works at a fast food chain to feed the family as the sole breadwinner. She is divorced from Adam’s father, who is incarcerated.
Coming from a broken and lower-income family, Adam is just one example of many youths-at-risk that are often “invisible” in Singapore – the setting of the Crazy Rich Asian movie.
Now, a new campaign aims to make the struggles of the poor in Singapore visible through the medium of black and white photography.
(Main photo above): One of the images in the campaign, featuring Nee Soon GRC MP and ACRES founder Louis Ng at Adam’s one-room rental flat. Photo: imaginem and The Salvation Army
In partnership with imaginem, a social start-up for photography, The Salvation Army Singapore is launching a new campaign titled ‘Making the Invisible, Visible’.
Taken by renowned lensman Aik Beng Chia, poignant photographs of well-known personalities are captured at the homes or frequented locations of The Salvation Army’s beneficiaries, such as Adam.
These personalities include MP and ACRES founder Louis Ng, The Food Bank Singapore co-founder Nichol Ng, and actress Cynthia Lee MacQuarrie.
All photographs in the campaign were inspired by true stories of needy beneficiaries helped by The Salvation Army Singapore.
“imaginem was founded with the goal of challenging society to think deeper about social issues. Through the medium of black and white photography, compelling stories about the lives of others can be shared with many,” says imaginem co-founder Lu JiaQuan.
Together with the generous support of well-known Singaporean personalities who have lent their support to this campaign, we can make the stories of the invisible in our society known”, he adds.
The ‘Making the Invisible, Visible’ campaign was first inspired by a similar campaign done by The Salvation Army Finland. The Finnish project, which was a roaring success, featured famous individuals posing as homeless people.
These included former Rovio Entertainment chief marketing officer Peter Vesterbacka, better known as the “Mighty Eagle” of the Angry Birds mobile phone game, and former Finnish president Tarja Halonen.
“I was very happy to learn that imaginem and The Salvation Army Singapore took the initiative to start a conversation about poverty in Singapore through the ‘Making the Invisible, Visible’ campaign, raising greater awareness about those who have less than us,” says Vesterbacka, who had shared the idea with Lu.
‘Making the Invisible, Visible’: The Salvation Army’s Major Hary Haran (pictured right) deep in conversation with imaginem co-founder Lu JiaQuan (left) and Angry Birds’ former marketing chief Peter Vesterbacka (centre). Photo: Stanislaus Jude Chan
“The Salvation Army participated in this project proposed by imaginem with the belief that the campaigns’ thought-provoking visuals will help to shed light on the plight of the unseen in the community,” says Major Hary Haran, the Salvation Army’s territorial secretary for personnel in Singapore, Malaysia and Myanmar.
“These black and white photographs evoke empathy and bring a new level of social awareness of the hardships faced by the less fortunate in Singapore society. Through our programmes and services, we want to continue making a positive impact on the lives of our beneficiaries,” he adds.
The Salvation Army Singapore is aiming to raise $150,000 in donations through the ‘Making the Invisible, Visible’ campaign, which will go towards transforming the lives of their beneficiaries through its social programmes and services.
A public exhibition for the campaign is expected to be held towards the end of the year.