For Elijah Ted Ng, age is no barrier to making a difference.
Contributed By Christal Ong
At just 15, Elijah Ted Ng is probably one of the youngest social entrepreneurs in Singapore. His art business, Art With A HeART, was started with the original intention of funding his tuition fees. He earns his keep entirely by providing art auctions and services twice a month at his pushcart stall at VivoCity. As his business grew, Ng began to look for ways to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged children.
This year, Ng came up with an initiative, Project Vision 2011—Vision With A HeART. Project Vision 2011 is a five-year plan that benefits underprivileged children in countries such as Indonesia, China and Africa. This idea was sparked off during a learning mission trip to Jakarta organized by City Harvest Children’s Church when Ng was only 10 years old. Moved by the plight of the children living in dilapidated slums and poor living conditions, he realized that he was very fortunate living in Singapore and wanted to help the less privileged children in other countries.
Ng kicked off Project Vision this year with its first program: Project Vision, Love The Student. The objective of this project was to fit myopic children with proper spectacles so that they could see clearly in class and would not be disadvantaged at school. At the same time, this initiative supports the local optical businesses, bringing revenue into their home country. Ng was told that Medan was particularly receptive to this initiative.
During Ng’s birthday celebration with his relatives and friends in March this year, he took the opportunity to raise funds for this project by selling his own paintings. Guests could also “adopt” a pair of non-prescriptive spectacle frames at S$50 each—these were later prescribed for the needy children in Medan.
On June 16, Ng, together with his parents, traveled to Medan to carry out this project. Over three days, they worked closely with a team of workers from Indonesia Harvest Church, an affiliate of City Harvest Church Singapore, of which Ng is a member. The team from IHC had sourced for professional opticians to prescribe the lens for the children. To ensure smooth operations, the young beneficiaries were informed in advance of the project and free shuttle buses were also arranged by the team to bring them to see the opticians.
In all, 197 children in Medan benefited from Ng’s project: each received a free eye examination and a pair of prescribed spectacles of their choice.
“Previously, the children had to copy their classmates’ work as they couldn’t see the blackboard clearly. Now with the prescription spectacles, they can finally see clearly,” Ng said. Taking his cue from the Bible verse in Proverbs 29:18 that reads, “Where there is no vision, the people perish,” Ng firmly believes that these children deserve to have a future and a vision; and to know that someone cares for their needs.
At the opening ceremony of Project Vision in Medan, Ng’s effort caught the attention of the secretary to the sub-district head of Medan, who was impressed by the young man’s enthusiasm to help the children of Indonesia. News of Ng’s deed was published in the local newspaper in Medan.
Now home, Ng has been nominated as one of the top 10 youth in Singapore who are making a difference in the community. The top three outstanding youth will receive The Stars of SHINE Award. This award, organized by the National Youth Council and Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, serves to highlight and profile young role models as a source of encouragement and inspiration to other youths. In order to clinch the title, the nominees will need to undergo a panel interview with the organizing committee, and receive as many online votes as possible from supporters via Facebook.
Find out more at http://shine.nyc.sg/stars-of-shine/. Online voting is open from now till July 24. The awards will be presented at the SHINE 2011 Festival Closing Ceremony on July 30.
A Soule For Every Soul
Another youth role model nominated for the Stars of SHINE Award is Justine Lee Fu De, co-owner and co-founder of Soule. With a vision “to provide a sole for every soul,” Soule was birthed by Lee and two other friends after a humanitarian trip to rural China where Lee saw children who were so poor, they couldn’t afford shoes. Soule adopts a buy-one-give-one concept where for every pair of footwear sold, they will give a pair of school shoes to a needy child in China.