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Youths launch 'Can Mah' initiative to help the vulnerable get groceries


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These youths created a programme linking volunteers to people struggling to get their supermarket shopping done during COVID-19.

Heading out to places that draw crowds can be especially challenging for vulnerable people in our community. For groups like the elderly, who are more susceptible to the virus, making the weekly grocery run could put their health at risk.

Wanting to do something for the community, five 18-year-old friends from United World College of South East Asia (UWCSEA) came together to launch Can Mah!, an initiative to help vulnerable people get their groceries.

Youth.SG spoke to Logan Sethu of Can Mah! to find out more about this initiative.

(Clockwise from top left) Logan Sethu, Rohan Punamiya, Gitansh Arora, Vivek Venkatram and Atishay Dikshit started working on Can Mah! in their last semester in school.

The recent graduates from UWCSEA were concerned when they first heard news of panic buying in supermarkets all over Singapore back in February. One article that particularly impacted the group depicted an elderly man surrounded by empty shelves in a supermarket.

"The article made us think of the people who fall between the cracks in society during times like these. We wanted to create a medium to help look out for these people. Not just the elderly, but frontliners too, or the disabled," said Logan, who is in charge of communications for Can Mah!.

Realising that these vulnerable groups needed more help to get their groceries and essential items, the friends came up with an idea to connect them with volunteers in their neighbourhood who were willing to help.

Developing their idea from scratch, however, was no easy task. Hearing of their challenges with the project, a teacher in their school pointed them towards partnering with GoodHood.SG. GoodHood.SG is an app that links people in the same neighbourhood together to meet up or help each other out. It aims to foster a kampung spirit in neighbourhoods in Singapore.

Seeing that their goals aligned, they pitched their idea to GoodHood.SG founder Nigel Teo, who was very excited to include Can Mah! into his existing app.

"It was a struggle initially, to try to get the idea off the ground and to try to figure out how we wanted the app to work, but finding our footing with GoodHood.SG took us in a more positive direction," said Logan.

The friends conducted multiple rounds of surveys, interviews and even coded the programme by themselves. They then worked with GoodHood.SG's team to get their programme integrated into the app.

Can Mah! provides an easy way for people to request help from their neighbours in getting their groceries.

On Jun 11, Can Mah! was launched as a feature on the GoodHood.SG app.

This feature allows vulnerable users to create a shopping list from a comprehensive list of groceries on the app, and make a request for others to help them with the shopping.

The team has been encouraged by the positive feedback from their peers, their former school and Singaporeans from all walks of life.

"We just launched a few days ago, and we have been actively collecting feedback and responses to develop more features. We really want to make it better," said Logan.

The team is hopeful that their initiative will last beyond COVID-19 and they are committed to working on it as they move on to further studies or National Service.

Logan said: "Although this idea was borne out of what happened during COVID-19, the needs of these vulnerable people still need to be met after the pandemic is over. We hope that our initiative will provide a lasting platform for Singaporeans to help their communities."

You can access Can Mah! by downloading the GoodHood.SG app on the App Store or Google Play.


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