Unsung good Samaritans make a big difference to society.
Who says people in Singapore are selfish and self-absorbed? Unseen and unheard are the many who labor to make the world a better place, one individual at a time.
Earlier in the year, The New Paper hotline rang off the hook, with offers of help, money and even groceries, after an article about a penniless widow with three mouths to feed appeared in the news.
Earlier this month, another story about Bryan Liu, a 4-year-old boy desperately needing a kidney transplant, attracted a slew of offers from concerned readers offering to donate their own kidneys.
To date, over 25 people have contacted TNP to offer their kidneys, and one of them was Richard Kwok, 33.
Kwok was moved with compassion when he read about Bryan’s plight. “I really cannot imagine how he is going to manage and undergo the treatment and medical condition all his life, especially since he is only 4, and has a whole life and dreams ahead of him to pursue.”
Currently, Bryan needs 10 hours of peritoneal dialysis at home nightly, and must regulate the amount that he drinks each day. His mother, Serene Ng, donated a kidney to him, but it failed when he was three. Neither his father, Victor, nor his sister, Charmaine is able to donate a kidney to him as they are of different blood types. Liu needs a donor who is O+.
Kidney donation has certain implications: you cannot subsequently donate to a family member, you only have one kidney left and there is a recovery period after the surgery. Despite this, Kwok was prepared to go ahead.
“To my own and family’s surprise, all these were not my top priorities at that point of time. The main thing on my mind was to see Bryan recovering and growing up normally like any other kid. Yes, the worries did set in eventually, but I do believe that when we contribute our best in doing good, God will take care of the rest for us. “I do not wish to deprive Bryan of a new lease of life due to unforeseeable personal reasons.”
This is not the first sacrifice Kwok has been prepared to give to others. The business development manager from Thomson Medical Centre went on a relief mission to Haiti in January this year.
“Honestly, I do not regard my actions as altruistic, as I feel that much more could be done on my part to contribute to the quake victims. I guess as believers in Christ, we just want to help the less fortunate as much as we can. At that moment of time, to me, the best way to do so was to use my knowledge and skills as a medical relief worker. It just pains and affects so much to see so many lives lost, injured left to die, and the sick being unattended to.”
Unfortunately, Kwok was not a donor match for Liu.
Kwok is not alone in caring for the less fortunate. Singaporeans from all walks of life are doing their part.
Youngsters doing their bit
Crystal Wong, Simone Lim, Zheng Xiao Han and Jessy Zhang, all Secondary Four students of Nanyang Girls High School, started Beyond ‘10, an initiative to raise funds for Beyond Social Services which runs preventive, restorative and developmental programs and services aimed at combating delinquency among the youth.
Over the course of eight months, the four girls built a team of 15 students from various schools across the island to help them run the project’s highlight—a two-hour concert featuring song and dance performances by other youth volunteers. During the months before the concert, the group sourced for sponsorship, merchandisers, and volunteers for their weekend street sales and donation drives.
“We faced many challenges as we lacked experience in most of the aspects involved in the fundraiser. We had to be creative with the resources we had and think of ways to raise funds, gather sponsors, coordinate volunteers and source for merchandise,” said Wong.
In spite of these challenges, each weekend saw over 200 donation tins filled, and in total, the group managed to raise S$3,000 for BSS.
A heart for fellow-man
Maria Fe Yee, 50, a real estate agent, has made it a point to help fellow Filipinos who are working in Singapore. “They are my own people,” she explained, “If I don’t help them, who will?”
Once, she met a group of Filipinos who were stranded in Singapore after a dishonest employment agency promised them jobs, took their money, and left them to fend for themselves in a foreign land. Upon knowing this, the big-hearted woman instantly offered her home to them as they searched for jobs. She met all their needs, even selling her jewelry to help send them home.
In a more recent incident, Yee was shopping for Converse shoes when she felt a sense of compassion toward the salesgirl who was attending to her. “I don’t normally go around offering money to people. But I felt that I needed to give her S$100. I was very surprised at my own action, and even more surprised when she suddenly hugged me tightly.”
It turned out that the salesgirl was still training on the job, and only received S$500 a month as allowance, and had to use S$150 for transport. “I asked her, ‘Only S$350 a month, how do you survive?’ She told me that she also had to send money back to the Philippines to support her mother.” The salesgirl’s mother was widowed, and had to support her second daughter.
Individuals like Kwok, Yee, Wong and her group of friends are doing what they can to make this society a better place, not just for themselves or their loved ones, but also for the stranger next door.
Imagine what our world would be like if each of us puts in a little bit of effort to do the same.