MEMBER SPOTLIGHT – MARIEKE BINK
A glance at Marieke Bink’s demanding schedule and one will be even more impressed that she has any time for charitable work. But the role of founder (or entrepreneur!) is one that’s dearest to her heart. Inspired by her work as an healthcare worker, she kick-started Cycling Without Age, a non-profit organisation that aims to encourage mobility in seniors.
We sat down with Marike to talk about her organisation’s upcoming developments and how her charitable ambitions started.
1) Tell us about your Cycling Without Age and your inspiration.
As a Dutch woman I’m born to cycle, and I’ve been working in healthcare for over 20 years, mostly in home care and nursing home settings. Through the course of my work, I’ve seen and met a lot of seniors.
When I came across Cycling Without Age, I saw how a small gesture of offering a trishaw ride transformed the lives of the elderly. The rides were touching in so many senses; feeling the wind in your hair; taking in the smells of durians; the warmth of the sun on your face; talking with someone who takes you out; meeting old friends and making new ones. It brings back purpose and re-energises life, unlike sitting alone in a room or in a nursing home and seeing the days pass by, waiting for death to knock on the door. I was inspired to setup Cycling Without Age Singapore and aimed to give back to seniors in their last years of their lives.
Additionally, we can learn a lot from our seniors. The great stories that they have to tell – for instance, what they’ve been through – makes talking to them worthwhile and meaningful. With the trishaw rides, we’re essentially encouraging people to connect. Everyone benefits from the trishaw rises because that little act of kindness of every month puts a smile on faces.
2) Mobike or Ofo?
That’s easy! You’re asking a Dutch and our colour is orange. So… Mobike, of course.
3) As a mother and entrepreneur, how do you balance work and family?
Honestly, it’s hard. But I always find ways to achieve work-life-balance by spending quality time with my family. When I’m home, I’ll play games with my children, listen to them tell their stories, and enjoy meals together. During mealtime, I always make it a point to tell my kids that toys and hand-held mobile devices are not allowed. And as a mother, I try to be there for my children; important moments at school are blocked in my agenda. I’m also glad that I have a dedicated helper who helps out in my home so I don’t have to worry about household chores. Hence, I can focus on Cycling Without Age Singapore.
Oh, before I forget to mention, my husband also takes his fatherly duties seriously and spends time with our children. He’s a wonderful man and I’m thankful that there’s at least one parent to see through our children’s growing up moments.
4) Singapore’s population is rapidly ageing and in no time will the number of people above 65 years equal those under 15. Do you feel that there’s sufficient support in compared to other countries abroad?
Singapore’s rapidly ageing population is an eminent issue and we should always keep in mind that we’ve to support one another by staying active and connected with our communities. Research has already proven that social isolation and loneliness are more harmful than bad habits and diseases like smoking, lack of exercise, and diabetes.
If we, as individuals, choose to stay active and remain connected with the community, then we’ll be a healthier citizenry and thus need less support. Cycling on e-trishaws can be done by anyone, regardless of age. In the world our oldest ‘pilot’ is 83 years old. In Singapore, our oldest pilot is 71.
5) As a fellow community builder, how do you go about building a community?
Building community is all about giving a bit of your time and effort for a bigger cause. If every one of us can do our part, set aside time to reach out to the people within our social circle, I believe that the world will be a better place. And if I’m able to encourage people to start doing so, I hope can be part of the effort to make the world a better place.