The BlockWalk is a Habitat for Humanity initiative aimed at serving others, loving our neighbours and caring for our world as God commanded. All photos courtesy of Habitat for Humanity Singapore unless otherwise stated.

Once a month on a Saturday morning, Josephine Montero, her husband Augustus and 24-year-old daughter Aeole Jasmine wake up early to take a walk around their neighbourhood.

They do not do it for the exercise or to chat with the neighbours. Instead, they pick up whatever litter they see along the way. The Monteros are part of the BlockWalk initiative by Habitat for Humanity Singapore.

For the Monteros, picking up litter in their community is a whole-family affair that includes their pet dog. Photo courtesy of Josephine Montero.

One Saturday a month, Habitat for Humanity volunteers walk their community to clean up their neighbourhood or favourite green place.

They do it where they live or where it is convenient for them. The hope is that if everyone picked up one piece of trash they see every day, Singapore would be a litter-free place.

The BlockWalk is a monthly affair where volunteers pick up trash in their neighbourhood or favourite green spaces to make our living environments better.

Helping the initiative be part of a communal activity, volunteers also connect with one another via Zoom throughout the activity. This allows the volunteers to encourage one another and build solidarity even as they care for their neighbourhoods in tangible and practical ways.

The work done is seen also as a service to the people around them, showing God’s love.

Said Josephine: “I used to think that our neighbourhood is clean because when I walk through it in the morning or evening, I don’t notice the trash.

“But when I started taking part in BlockWalk, I realise there is actually a lot of trash.”

A heart of service

Filipinos who have been in Singapore since 2007, the Monteros have always enjoyed volunteering.

Josephine likes to volunteer as a family because this is how she teaches her daughter to do to others as she would have others do to her. Photo courtesy of Josephine Montero.

“I always teach my daughter to do unto others what you want others to do unto you,” said Josephine.

When the family moved to Singapore, Josephine continued to look for ways to give back to society.

Volunteering is part of her way of bringing good and Christian values to the world. When she was still living in the Philippines, Josephine sponsored a child in the Philippines under World Vision for five years.

“In the Philippines, we are very poor. Good education is not available to everyone. I wanted her to have a better life through good education.”

The girl was in secondary school then and has since graduated.

When the family moved to Singapore, Josephine continued to look for ways to give back to society. She is a volunteer with the People’s Association and was involved in the POSB Passion Run for Kids. She and Augustus set up a game stall at a festival organised at the Run.

“We just wanted to help out.”

Stewards of our home

When the Covid-19 pandemic rocked the world and reduced physical activities to a trickle, Josephine sought other ways to volunteer. The BlockWalk caught her attention because it allowed her to volunteer regularly even when large-scale gatherings were not possible. 

“We see it as doing something to help others, as well as a family bonding activity.”

Some days, even when it is not a designated BlockWalk day, the Monteros walk around their neighbourhood and pick up the litter they see.

Now, the Monteros pick up litter not only on BlockWalk Saturdays but when they walk their dog as well.

“When we walk our dog, we also pick up the trash.”

The effort Habitat for Humanity takes to care for our living environment is part of their way of serving others.

On the Saturdays that they do the BlockWalk, they don their Habitat for Humanity tee-shirt. Those in the community now recognise them and their efforts.

“When we started, we didn’t have the t-shirts and people would ask us why we are doing this.

“Now, with the t-shirts, they don’t ask us anymore. Instead, they thank us.”

Each BlockWalk lasts an hour and yields three large black garbage bags of trash. The most common items they pick up are beers cans and bottles, and cigarette butts.

During the Circuit Breaker, used masks were the top item found lying around.

The hope is that if everyone in Singapore picks up a piece of litter every day, Singapore will be litter-free.

“Sometimes, three garbage bags are not enough. There is actually a lot of trash. The cleaners are doing a very good job but people are throwing trash after the cleaners clear the place.”

The effort Habitat for Humanity takes to care for our living environment is part of their way of serving others (Galatians 5:13), loving their neighbours (Matthew 22:35-40) and caring for the world as God had instructed (Genesis 2:15).

As the needs of the community are met, hearts will be softened and doors opened to the Gospel.

Creation care

Josephine said that being part of the BlockWalk has changed the way she lives and cares for the environment.

“Now, we are more aware of what is going on in the environment. In the past, we didn’t separate our trash. But now we are doing it and we make sure that we are throwing the recyclables into the recycling bins.

“When we are outside, we are conscious of throwing away our trash properly.”

The next BlockWalk will take place on:
August 27, 2022 (Saturday)
Sign up here.


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About the author

Christine Leow

Christine believes there is always a story waiting to be told, which led to a career in MediaCorp News. Her idea of a perfect day involves a big mug of tea, a bigger muffin and a good book.