From harvesting vegetables to crafting wood: Kampung Kampus offers space to learn and play

Rachel Phua Channel NewsAsia 18 Feb 17;

SINGAPORE: Away from Singapore's cityscape is new community space where residents can take part in "kampung-style" activities like harvesting vegetables, crafting wood and creating mud bricks for simple construction works.

It's called Kampung Kampus, which opened on Saturday (Feb 18) at the former Bottle Tree Park at Khatib. It is run by non-profit group Ground-Up Initiative (GUI), as a space where people can learn and play.

For instance, a permanent workshop will be built for Touchwood, a social enterprise under GUI that specialises in craft works. There will also be other DIY craft studios and a new camping site for schools and companies to hold overnight group events.

The opening of the 26,000 sqm centre on Saturday is the first of three phases. Construction of the second and third phases of Kampung Kampus is expected to start from 2018 and will involve the building of spaces such as a bamboo gallery and refurbished kampung-style huts.

It is hoped that the new centre will encourage more Singaporeans to participate in environmental and social projects, and “get in touch with their roots," said founder of GUI Tay Lai Hock.

This is also in line with Singapore's drive to get more Singaporeans to engage in social projects, said Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee during the launch.

“Hopefully, this will in turn kickstart more projects around Singapore to promote active participation in social causes but more importantly, that we feel it is our responsibility to grow these social causes,” said Mr Lee.

This is particularly important for a globalised and digital world, Mr Lee added, where Singaporeans are looking for and succeeding in opportunities outside of the country.

“We need to counter-balance this with a deeper sense of rootedness. Our roots must run deeper … and it can never only be an initiative the government leads. In fact, civil society, communities, volunteers, all play an important part in helping Singaporeans find their feet and to find their identity and to grow it and evolve it along the way,” Lee added.

So far, GUI has spent S$1 million on the new sites, and the financing was partially sponsored by local construction companies, the non-profit group said.

- CNA/xk

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