It is not my intention, in this posting, to trumpet what we at The Online Citizen do. This post is simply to let you, our readers, know some of the things which we engage in behind the scenes. At times, we have been questioned and even criticized for not doing enough to help the people we feature in our stories.

As Chief Editor, I know some of these criticisms are borne out of a lack of information, perhaps on our part, but it is because those who work so tirelessly behind the scenes do not want their effort to be broadcast or made public. Indeed, over the course of the last three years, there have been numerous individuals here at TOC who did what they could to help those we interview or come across.

And there are many of these very special individuals whom I am immensely proud to work with – and to know as friends – as a result.

The work that we do involve meeting people, Singaporeans and foreigners, from all walks of life, in various circumstances. At times, it is heartrending to hear their stories, or to see and feel the hopelessness these people feel. And it is always a struggle to try and offer whatever little help we can afford, given the scarce resources we have. But we do try.

I would like to mention, for example, the individuals who worked through the night writing reports and editing videos of the plight of foreign workers, the homeless, the elderly and the disenfranchised, so that their stories are told and perhaps their situation and plight are brought to the attention of those who can truly help them.  For example, the homeless who were camped out at public parks and beaches now have temporary homes to live in after we brought their situation to the attention of the authorities. We were criticised by some quarters on the Internet for making things worse for these people, who were harassed by the authorities after we made their situation known.

But how do you not reveal their stories and circumstances when there are children involved? Should that not be the priority?

At times, we offer them help in our personal capacity.

While we will always try and do our part, I would like to ask our readers for their understanding as well. It is no easy task to do these things and they can be overwhelming at times. I know of my fellow TOC members who fall sick doing these things, who are anguished by these stories, but who wish to do more. Behind each story that you read here on this website are, at times, accompanied by emotionally-draining days and nights of speaking with and visiting with the people involved.

But as Chief Editor, my first and foremost responsibility is to the members of TOC and it has always been a constant struggle for me to make decisions which will affect both our members and the people we try to help.

Some of our readers see us as more than just a blog site, although I do not see TOC as such. We are bloggers, volunteers, ordinary Singaporeans who try and do our part to help our fellow Singaporeans and foreigners by telling their stories.

I have always struggled with the question of whether we should extend our help in other ways as well, bearing in mind that we are not a non-governmental organization which is able to have access to funding, for example. And whether we should extend ourselves beyond telling stories.

I am very proud of all TOC members who take it upon themselves to go beyond reporting on these stories – but in the end, there has to be a limit to how much we can and should do.

For now, I would like to say a public “thank you” to all those who have worked their socks off helping those in need on behalf of TOC. You know who you are.

And come Monday, some of us will be delivering packets of rice to some of the homeless folks we know.

This is what we do – the little that we can.

Andrew Loh

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