Children and people with special needs prove that regardless of age or limitation, everyone can do their part for charity.
|CN PHOTOS: Michael Chan|
The sound of young voices singing reverberated from television sets all over Singapore as 30 children from YoungTalents, an arm of City Harvest Community Services Association, took to the stage in the opening act of the Thong Chai Charity Night.
Telecast live on Channel 8 from MediaCorp’s TV Theatre, the children, aged between five and 11, joined Campus Superstar 2009 winner, Jarod Lee, 15, and runner-up, Ai Jia, 16, to perform the fundraiser’s theme song, “Shou Hu”.
The star-studded TV fundraiser also featured international superstar Jackie Chan, and Hong Kong singer Wakin Chau. But these stars were not the only stars that night.
Also pitching in to raise funds that evening was a group of 11 individuals with special needs, representing RAYZ, a department of CHCSA that caters to the intellectually-challenged. Their simple sincerity, seen in the expressions on their faces, touched many hearts as they used sign language to accompany veteran artiste Zhuang Xue Fang as she rendered her evergreen hit, “Gan En De Xin”.
Performing alongside them were contestants from MediaCorp’s Channel 8 reality show, Super Mummy, who were moved by what these special needs people could do despite their challenges they. “I really admire them; they picked up the tune in no time,” said contestant, Natalie Lee, 35.
This can-do attitude towards doing their part for the community regardless of age or ability lies at the heart of YoungTalents’ and RAYZ’s involvement in Singapore Thong Chai Medical Institute’s first-ever television charity show.
“We have received a lot from the community, so when there is a chance for us to do something in return, we should definitely take that opportunity,” said Santhi Singaram, program coordinator for RAYZ’s item. “Sign language is something that they are skilled at, so that was their gift to the show.”
The program coordinator for YoungTalent’s item, Constance Yong, echoed Singaram’s sentiments. “We want to ensure that we don’t just perform, but in whatever we do, we are giving back to society,” said Yong.
Other performers who did not let their limitations hinder them from making a contribution included physically-impaired dancing duo, Ma Li and Zhai Xiao Wei, as well as singers Ricky Hsiao and Kelvin Tan, both blind.
The Chinese dancers each lost a limb in devastating vehicle accidents. Even though Ma is missing her right arm and Zhai, his left leg, their heartfelt determination in overcoming their handicap is an inspiration to all, especially those who are physically-challenged. Donations poured in as the pair effortlessly careened around the stage, cleverly using Zhai’s wheelchair and crutch as props.
Hsiao, a Taiwanese singer-songwriter, and Tan, winner of Project SuperStar 2005, also impressed studio audience and TV viewers with their flawless solo and duet song items.
The strength of the human spirit expressed in these performances resonates well with CHCSA and STCMI as both organizations share a steadfast commitment to the community at large, irrespective of race or religion.
CHCSA espouses an ethos of extending practical demonstrations of love, especially to the marginalized of society, which includes the elderly, the young, the intellectually-challenged and the physically-impaired.
STCMI was started as a charitable clinic in 1867 and has been serving people by providing free medical consultation and traditional Chinese medicine for over a hundred years. The television fundraiser was held as part of efforts to expand the institution’s 33-year-old building at Chin Swee Road, housing its clinic, as well as to upgrade its medical facilities and equipment.
The theme song, “Shou Hu”, meaning “watching over,” aptly reflects STCMI’s work in partnering with the public to watch over patients in need, helping them towards recovery. The song was specially composed for the event by SuperBand 2008 runner-up, Da Feng Chui, with lyrics penned by solo artiste, Lin Jiayu.
“The song is about the challenging life that patients lead,” said Lin, 25, contemplating the words of the ballad. “If everybody can do their part in love, every patient will eventually see their rainbow,” he continued.
Da Feng Chui’s keyboardist, Estella Sia, 27, added that they hoped the song could, “encourage the patients, and also thank their parents, caregivers, and [STCMI] on [the patients’] behalf.”
Speaking about their involvement in the show, 29-year-old lead singer of the band, Zhen Liang said, “If foreign artistes like Jackie Chan and Wakin Chau can travel here just to perform for charity, all the more we should be helping our fellow Singaporeans.”
Concurring with him was young singing champion, Lee. “I don’t mind doing more charity shows because it can help more people,” he quipped.
The international guests who showed support for the event, apart from Chan and Chau, included TV star Michelle Yim and singer Sky Wu.
Renowned for his kungfu flicks and Hollywood crossovers such as Shanghai Knights, Chan, who is also STCMI’s charity ambassador, announced during the show that he was personally donating S$100,000 to the institution’s cause.
Being in such fine company, the YoungTalents found themselves starstruck. Flash bulbs went into overdrive as the friendly actor obliged the children and special needs people with a photo opportunity backstage.
Many of the YoungTalents will remember the evening because of the celebrities they got to meet. RAYZ client Jun Quan, 23, was excited to have had a chance to interact on stage with one of the night’s host, local actor Mark Lee.
Quan, 23, told City News, “I am so excited to meet all the actors and actresses in MediaCorp.” A big fan of celebrities, Quan endearingly refers to himself as Jay Chou, after the Taiwanese pop idol.
For others, participating in the show marked their maiden appearance on national television. Asked why the night was special, 5-year-old Ephraim Tan from YoungTalents gushed, “Because I got to appear on TV!”
By the end of the three-hour event, S$7.23 million had been raised for STCMI from members of the public and corporate donors.