BENEFITING: FRIENDS WITHOUT A BORDER
EVENT DATE: Oct 22, 2017
When I started running marathons and races more than 10 years ago, I never once imagined I will one day use them to raise funds. And ever since I started my voluntary and charity work in the early 90’s to-date, it has always been associated with doing pro bono PR work helping the arts and adults. Not with children, not with hospitals.
Isn’t it marvelous how the serendipity of life creates amazing outcomes. Having worked in healthcare (working with hospitals in Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam), and now in education (working with entitled millennials), it has helped me re-set life’s priorities.
Last year, I had the privilege of personally canvassing for funds, visiting the Lao Friends Hospital for Children, listening to its executive director and witnessing how the parents and nurses care for the children when I ran the Luang Prabang Half Marathon.
And once again, it proved something that I had always reminded myself – in helping others, you actually learn and benefit more than those you have helped. This year, as I write this, I learnt that the running is no longer all about me, my fitness, my sense of ‘wow’ as I de-stress, my passion. It’s all this, and more. It is channeling my privileged life, to something as basic as providing healthcare to poverty-stricken Laos. The Laos government is supposed to provide free healthcare for every child five and below, but it is rarely the case. Children make up 38 per cent of the population in Laos and 74 out of 1000 children born will not live past age five. They typically die from treatable diseases such as diarrhoea and pneumonia. Only USD46 is spent per capita on public and healthcare in Laos (compared to over USD2, 700 in Singapore).
What a different world I live in, where MBA is a huge industry, premium milk powder price is debated in parliament, and heck – even tuition for PSLE is a big business.
Give a tiny fraction of what you have, and help that kid, who one day, might just be that ‘’leader of tomorrow’’ (as we say in business schools) graduating from a highly-ranked university, to pay it forward.
Perspective, as they say. Perspective. It is challenging, but rewarding, as my art teachers told me just last week.
While running is not everyone’s cup of tea, I believe everyone can participate in this worthy cause of funding a hospital to treat children – something we take for granted in our countries. So, please do support me and donate generously. Let me do the running, and I let you contribute in another way.
Thank you for sharing my learning journey and passion with me.
The hospital is funded by NGO Friends Without A Border, founded by renowned photographer Kenro Izu in 1996*. The hospital provides free basic paediatric care to all Lao children 15 and below. *Friends Without A Border is committed to creating a healthier future for the children of South East Asia. It adopts a three-part model of holistic care – treatment, education and prevention. In 1999, it built and opened Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap, and Lao Friends Hospital for Children in 2015.