Raleigh Singapore started organising overseas projects since 1996, beginning with Operasi Raleigh Batam in the Riau Islands. In Raleigh Singapore’s inaugural overseas project, volunteers dug a reservoir to provide fresh water for the village community, refurbished a school and built an access stairway down a cliff to the beach to allow children safe access among other things. Operasi Raleigh Batam II was launched in 1998 as a second instalment of the successful venture.
Since then, Raleigh Singapore has organised overseas projects in Tibet, Myanmar and most recently, Mongolia. Learn about our venturers’ experiences here:-
Operation Amar Sain 2022
Raleigh Singapore (RS) and Raleigh Mongolia (RM) came together once again for OAS 2022, this time with a focus on raising awareness on the cultural and sacred landscape of the Amarbayasgalant Monastery. The monastery has a rich history stretching over 300 years and has been nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, the level of awareness and support for cultural preservation could be significantly enhanced.
OAS 2022 is part of the World Heritage Volunteers (WHV) initiative launched in 2008 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The WHV initiative encourages young people to undertake concrete actions and to play an active role in the protection, preservation, and promotion of World Heritage sites. To increase cultural awareness of the monastery, the team set up information boards and created an information treasure hunt game to provide visitors a fun and interactive way of learning about the monastery. OAS 2022 also included another focus area of waste management. OAS venturers set up the monastery’s first waste sorting bin and created an educational video as well as a promotional billboard to encourage recycling.
Operation Vannakam 2010
Led by Tan Bee Tin, this expedition built on its ties with the CTRD to continue an extension project for the hospital in Nilgiri Mountains. The team of 28 venturers assisted local experts to help in part of the construction work required to equip the hospital with additional facilities such as X-Ray, ECG, scanning facilities, kitchen and dining hall, staff quarters, guest house, and compound wall.
Operation Tashi Deleg 2001
Operation Tashi Deleg, led by Wong Yuen Lik, was a 39-day expedition combining community work with youth development based in the rural village of Song Duo, 230km east of Lhasa, Tibet. The 110-strong group was divided into two teams, with each team spending three weeks at high altitude in Tibet from May to June 2001. During the expedition, volunteers worked with the locals to upgrade existing accommodation blocks and construct a new school building for the nomadic children in the vicinity of the village.
Operation Tashi Deleg is a joint effort of Raleigh Singapore with the All-China Youth Federation (ACYF) and Tibet Youth Federation (TYF). The expedition was conceived after the expedition leader Wong Yuen Lik and volunteer Kee Mui Hong went on a reconnaissance trip with the ACYF where they visited five possible sites. They decided upon Song Duo and began the half-year preparation leading up to the project. The project was supported by the National Youth Council, DBS Bank and Shaw Foundation.
For ten full days, the small village of Indra Nagar, in the Nilgiri Hills of South India, was bustling with energy with a small and cosy team of volunteers. With the help of skilled villagers and four European CTRD volunteers, the seven seasoned Raleigh volunteers focused on the tasks at hand and completed the building of toilets during their stay in Indra Nagar.
The centrally located community hall was an ideal location as the project HQ, where the volunteers ate and slept. Due to the close proximity with the villagers' homes, social and cultural interactions with the villagers at the community hall and at their homes were daily affairs.
With the community spirit riding high, ten toilets were fully completed by the end of the project and the foundations of the other 15 toilets were fully established. In keeping with their tradition, a small celebration was organised by the villagers just before the team's departure. Tokens of appreciation were exchanged but gestures of friendships and camaraderie left a much deeper imprint on everyone. It touched our lives as much as it touched theirs.
Operation Amar Sain 2019
OAS 2019 was the second joint effort between Raleigh Singapore (RS) and Raleigh Mongolia (RM) in Burenselenge bag (village) of Selenge soum in Bulgan province. OAS 2019 was completed successfully, achieving our goals of supporting the villagers to improve their resilience under changing social-economic situations by introducing eco-friendly composting toilets and repairing the local clinic building, which was highly appreciated by the villagers.
The team, together with the locals and the medical volunteers, also organised a health screening for the villagers. To slow down desertification – a key concern in Mongolia – the team planted 800 seedlings over two days. The team also conducted English lessons through games and activities with the village children. As Singapore’s National Day coincided with the trip, the Mongolians showed their hospitality by celebrating Singapore’s birthday and sharing their traditional food and dances with the team.
Operation Vannakam 2009
This service expedition to India was first organised by Raleigh Society in partnership with the Centre for Tribal and Rural Development Trust (CTRD Trust). Operation Vannakam was a two-phase expedition to India organised by Raleigh Singapore. More than 50 volunteers, led by Daniel Tan, worked together with local masons and villagers to construct a hospital for the tribal community in the Nilgiri mountains in Tamil Nadu. Villagers had to travel at least 50km to Sulthan Bathery for quality check-ups prior to the construction of the hospital, or to Mysore which is 120km away or Coimbatore which is 200km away, involving high travel costs which the impoverished communities could not afford. The social and cultural backgrounds of the villagers also influences them to not seek medical help readily from the faraway hospitals. Volunteers for Phase 1, from 16 May to 5 June 2009, completed the foundation work and started laying the bricks on the left wing of the hospital, while volunteers from Phase 2, from 31 May to 20 June 2009, completed the brick-laying and started work on the roof.
Inner Mongolia 1999
In the late 1990s, Raleigh Singapore was offered an opportunity to work with the All China Youth Federation (ACYF) to organise an expedition in China. Encouraged by the earlier successes of the two expeditions to the Indonesian islands of Geranting and Bertam, Raleigh Singapore volunteers were keen to explore an expedition of a bigger scale and longer duration, with more experience under their belts. After a recce trip in 1998 with the ACYF, we selected Qigetu, Inner Mongolia, China as the site for the expedition.
Operation Inner Mongolia took place from 16 May to 26 Jun 1999 led by Lee Yoke Wai in Phase 1 and Jacky Ong in Phase 2, involving about 50 venturers and eight staff in each phase. During the six weeks, venturers lived in tents and worked alongside their Chinese Youth counterparts to construct a Primary School to serve the Qigetu Village. Venturers also had the opportunity to go on home visits, trying horse riding and shepherding, depending on the family they visited. Some of the venturers also took up short teaching stints to introduce the local children to English. The entire team went on a local hike to the top of one of the mountains.
Operasi Raleigh Batam I 1996
Operasi Raleigh Batam or ORB as it is fondly know as, was conceived as Raleigh Singapore’s first homegrown overseas community service expedition in the region in 1996. Having acquired very active, motivated and passive volunteers who are Raleigh International Singapore alumni from 1986, we had the ability to mount our own expedition on behalf of Singaporean youth. The opening for ORB came through the Singapore Red Cross Society, which had organised a number of medical clinics in the Riau islands around Batam in partnership with Palang Merah Indonesia (PMI). The three-week expedition took place in August 1996. It was flagged off by then Minister of State for Information and The Arts, and Chairman of the National Youth Council Mr David Lim. The ferry was greeted by an extraordinary ceremony by the islanders, with song and dance, costumes and buntings. There was a lavish opening ceremony with many speeches, before we made camp in the compound of a local school.
Operation Amar Sain 2018
Operation Amar Sain (OAS) 2018 was the first joint effort between Raleigh Singapore (RS) and Raleigh Mongolia (RM) in the Burenselenge bag (village) of Selenge soum in Bulgan province. OAS was initiated with the aim of supporting the local villagers to improve their resilience under changing social-economic situations. OAS 2018 provided health/dental screening, as well as educational and environmental activities in Burenselenge bag (village). In addition, the team weeded sea buckthorn plantations to promote the growth of new seedlings. OAS 2018 continued to uphold the Raleigh spirit of adventure while meeting the objective of raising local community awareness on climate change and maintaining a sustainable and environmental way of living.
Operasi Yahowu 2005 -2008
Operasi Yahowu began in response to the Dec 26, 2004 tsunami that hit the west coast of Nias, an island off the west of Sumatra, Indonesia. This was the first time Raleigh was in a post-disaster region. We had sent recce teams over to Nias to work out a proposed freshwater distribution system for the villagers of Sirombu. Our local partners were PKPA (Pusa Kajian Perlindungan Anak), Centre for Study and Child Protection and YAKKUM Emergency Unit for the local reconstruction efforts.
In March 2005, an earthquake struck the region, killing 1300 people mostly on Nias, and levelling most of the capital Gunung Sitoli’s built infrastructure. The plans for the water sanitation project were thrown into disarray. Undeterred, Raleigh Singapore volunteers participated in the project ‘Child’s Play’ (from March to July 2005) to help the affected children cope with post-trauma symptoms. Three Child’s Play teams – who stayed in very tough post-quake camp conditions – brought cheer to the children staying at Internally Displaced People’s Camps (IDPCs). Volunteers helped to organise recreational sessions for the children, as well as getting them interested in their studies again by conducting academic sessions in English, Mathematics and Health Education in tandem with our local partner, PKPA.
Operation Mingalaba 1999
On the invitation of YMCA Singapore, Raleigh Singapore undertook a community project to build a community centre in a Shan village in Myanmar, in 1999. This project, led by Dr Chan Yew Wing, was in partnership and a collaborative effort with YMCA Yangon. With the aim to add a new dimension to Raleigh Singapore’s expeditions and create an overseas learning experience for disadvantaged youths, selected youths from Ramakrishna Home, Boys Town and SCAS were invited to join the expedition. For the first time, Raleigh Singapore expedition saw youths from privileged backgrounds working alongside the disadvantaged ones. This initiative also set the practice to include disadvantaged youths in future Raleigh expeditions.
As with all expeditions, Operation Mingalaba, faced its own set of organising challenges at every stage. The most daunting one was the sudden decision by the local authorities to deny us permission to proceed with the original plan of working in the Shan village. The abrupt change of project site just days before the arrival of phase 1 in Myanmar sent the advance team into a frenzy as they scrambled, with the help of local partners, to get Plan B into action by the time volunteers set foot in Myanmar.
A month and two expedition phases later, the combined effort of 100 youths with the local workers saw the transformation of a patch of bare land into a community centre for the local villagers in North Okkalapa, which is located within Yangon. Although North Okkalapa may not be the original site for the project, the objective of building a community centre was achieved. Locals benefit from the community centre, as a site for learning new skills learning such as English through free English lessons.
Operasi Raleigh Batam II 1998
Operasi Raleigh Batam (ORB) II, led by Dr Eric Tan, was jointly organised by Raleigh International Singapore and the Indonesian Red Cross Society in Batam. Two batches of about 100 people each, aged 17 to 30, spent a week on Bertam island, staying in tents. Pulau Bertam, only about the size of Sentosa, is 4 km south-west of Batam. It had been turned into a resettlement village for Orang Laut (sea gypsies) in 1986. The projects carried out included the rebuilding of a new community hall, the painting of the mosque and school, new walkways for stilt houses, a reconstructed spring and also a temporary clinic set-up during the two-week expedition on the island.