10 November 2017 – Computing for Voluntary Welfare Organisations (CVWO), an initiative founded by Associate Professor Ben Leong and spearheaded by NUS Computing students, celebrated its 10th anniversary yesterday.
Speaker of Parliament Mr Tan Chuan-Jin graced the event and held a dialogue session on how students can use their diverse talents to serve the social and welfare services sector and the community.
Founded in 2007, CVWO partners NUS Computing undergraduates with Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) to serve the community through the development of IT systems.
The initiative, sponsored by GIC Private Limited, takes in 10 to 14 Computing students every year to spend three months during their term break automating and improving the efficiency of their partners’ work processes, which in turn enables VWOs to better serve the community and their beneficiaries.
More than 100 students have joined the initiative since its inception and they have helped nine partner organisations like YMCA Singapore, Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society, Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore, since then.
“For the VWOs, getting a vendor to digitise their operations can be very costly, and so CVWO comes in to meet the need to help our VWOs increase their workflow efficiency,” said Prof Leong.
“Also, being involved in CVWO helps students to gain real world experiences that they cannot find in the classroom,” Prof Leong added.
One such IT system developed by CVWO is a mobile application for the Lions Befrienders Service Association. Yuan Yuchuan, Year 3 Computer Science student and Project Team Lead, gave a demonstration of the Lion Befrienders’ mobile app at the event.
The mobile app, first launched in 2013, helped volunteers and the VWO to track house visits and the condition of the seniors.
Yuchuan and his team released a new enhancement in July this year that allowed volunteers to state the different moods and mental states of the seniors. Volunteers can choose from six different emoticons to represent the senior’s mental and emotional state. The new feature helps volunteers and VWOs to look out for long-term problems like depression.
This is also the first time Lions Befrienders will be using data analytics in their operation.
“To be able to contribute to the Lions Befrienders Service Association, and by extension, society at large, while developing the skills in my area of expertise, is an experience that I find extremely valuable,” said Yuchuan.
“Community Involvement Projects (CIP) usually impact a handful of recipients, but through serving in CVWO, you can help make the work of hundreds of people easier, which in turn will impact even more people,” added Yuchuan.
During the dialogue session, Mr Tan spoke about building a more compassionate society through volunteering in different ways, like developing technology, to help VWOs and community workers be more effective in their efforts. He also challenged students to volunteer their time, talent and skills, and to give to others.
“The whole idea of giving, it’s not just about the beneficiaries only, it is about the giver, and how it can touch the life of the person giving and caring,” said Mr Tan.
“In reaching out to others, when there’s an element of sacrifice, when you commit part of your life to the life of others, change begins to happen,” Mr Tan added.
'GIC is pleased to support CVWO, which empowers both students and the wider community for the long term through unique skills-based volunteering opportunities. We see this as very much aligned with our community giving beliefs and look foward to further collaboration," said Deanna Ong, Chief People officer of GIC.