Singapore

Cabby sends stranded boys home for free

These six ordinary heroes made a difference to other strangers’ lives. Their heartwarming deeds are celebrated in the ongoing Good Man Good Deeds Good Rice campaign collaboration between Chinese evening daily LIanhe Wanbao and Tong Seng Produce’s rice brand SongHe. In their name, Tong Seng will donate 500kg of SongHe rice and 60 litres of canola oil to their charity of choice.

"Uncle, we only have 10 dollars, is that enough for a ride?"

Those were the words from three frazzled Secondary Four boys who were rushing home for dinner.

Noticing their anxiety, Mr Goh Khee Thye, 49, immediately told them to hop into his cab. The boys, who boarded at Singapore Zoo, told Mr Goh that they had missed their shuttle bus and had only $10 between the three of them.

They asked if he could send them to Khatib MRT station so that they could go home for dinner as promised to their parents.

Touched by the boys' obedience, Mr Goh sent them to their homes in Sembawang instead.

The Comfort Delgro taxi driver explained: "The fare came up to $17.50 and they wanted to go up to their homes to get the outstanding amount, but I told them not to. I wasn't planning to take money from them anyway and asked them to hurry home for dinner."

He was pleasantly surprised to learn that one of the thankful boys had written in to Comfort Delgro to praise his deed.

The student, Brian, called Mr Goh a "very special cabby".

"$17.50 is quite a sum of money. With competition from private-hire cars, it's even more difficult to earn a living.

"He went the extra mile without charging us a cent. Even though we tried giving him the money, he rejected it and told me, 'it's okay, you're students, this $10 means a lot to you, use it for your pocket money tomorrow, I also have children, I can understand how difficult it is for your parents to earn the $10 to give you'."

He added that the incident has changed his perception of taxi drivers, whom he used to think were unfriendly and always in a rush.

Mr Goh said: "These are all small things, if I can help, I will. I don't think about getting anything in return. I've also been on the receiving end of help, so when I can, I try to help others."

He added that he occasionally would waive taxi fares for elderly passengers going for their hospital appointments.

His generous persona and service spirit earned him the Thumbs Up Award from ComfortDelGro.

And his good deed did not go unnoticed by Lianhe Wanbao readers either, who chose him to be featured in the Chinese daily.

Mr Goh's charity is the Bishan Home for the Intellectually Disabled, which has been helping intellectually disabled youths integrate into society since 1999. The organisation has helped 132 people thus far.

An accidental start to a lasting friendship

When Mr Alvin Ho's car got hit by another at a traffic junction, he did not react in a way most would.

The 34-year-old fitness instructor and owner of a tech start-up had been on his way to a morning meeting at Kaki Bukit on Sept 7.

When he went to check on the damage to his car, he realised that the driver who hit him was an older man who appeared pale and sick. The man apologised profusely and Mr Ho noticed that he had a bile bag attached.

He said: "It reminded me of my late mother-in-law who had passed away of pancreatic cancer. She carried a bile bag with her as well."

When Mr Ho found out that the 65-year-old man suffered from stage four cancer and was on his way to a medical appointment, he decided to drive him to his medical appointment.

Mr Ho said: "Uncle has stage four cancer and just underwent surgery and chemotherapy. He was feeling unwell the day before but thought that he could take himself to the doctor. But he suffered a dizzy spell and knocked into my car."

Even though the man told Mr Ho to go for his meeting, Mr Ho insisted on staying through the appointment.

He even bought breakfast for the man and asked that he be treated earlier, leading nurses at the clinic to think that they were father and son.

Although the man offered to pay for the damage done to his car, Mr Ho refused.

He later took the man home and also drove the man's vehicle, which had been left at a carpark, back to his home as well.

The two developed a friendship after the incident, and Mr Ho even had a meal with the man and his family.

Mr Ho's deed was noticed by MacPherson MP Tin Pei Ling, who posted his story on her Facebook page on Sept 8.

Mr Ho's alma mater, Nanyang Junior College, later shared the post, which has since garnered 1,600 likes and 109 shares.

Mr Ho's charity is the Bishan Home for the Intellectually Disabled.

He brings food and smiles to old folks

Residents and staff at Sunlove Home can tell when Mr Govinda Lien, a forex investor and longtime volunteer, drops by.

Mr Lien, 61, is accompanied by the aroma of food, which he never fails to bring with him when visiting each month.

He pays for the meals and his "menu" includes chicken rice and food prepared by his wife.

The residents' smiles more than make up for the hassle of ferrying 200 to 240 packs of food for the home every month, and these smiles have kept him motivated as a volunteer at the home for the past 15 years.

Representatives at the home are grateful to Mr Lien, who they say has made the residents feel loved. As some of them are single old folks, abandoned by family or suffering from diseases, Mr Lien hopes to bring them joy via the smaller things in life.

He also regularly volunteers overseas, such as in orphanages in Cambodia.

Although his youngest son has Down syndrome, Mr Lien encourages his children to volunteer as well.

He said: "Contributing as a volunteer gives me far more happiness and fulfilment than simply donating money. I want to share this happiness with my family so I bring my children volunteering every weekend."

As his father passed away early, Mr Lien had a difficult childhood. His mother struggled to make ends meet.

"We had the help of social welfare then, so we could get by. Now it is time to give back to society," he said.

The semi-retired Mr Lien plans to do more charity work and aims to donate at least half of his savings when he is older.

Mr Lien's charity is Sunlove Home, which was set up in 1987 and is currently helping around 200 mentally ill patients.

Cancer survivor turns ambassador to give back to patients

Former businessman Thomas Lee, 67, once walked the corridors of Singapore General Hospital (SGH) as a patient.

The colorectal cancer survivor is now back - but as a patient ambassador.

Since 2011, he has been visiting the cancer wing to encourage colorectal cancer patients.

Mr Lee discovered his colorectal cancer in 2008. He underwent surgery soon after and kept the disease under control.

Unfortunately, he experienced a relapse two years later. He was greatly motivated by the words of the patient ambassador who visited him then.

After he recovered, he decided to give back and become a patient ambassador himself.

As part of his duties, he visits SGH twice a week with a fellow ambassador to share his experiences and answer any questions that patients might have.

He even set up a group chat in a messaging application so that patients can ask him questions any time of the day.

He said: "Some people are too shy to ask sensitive questions or forget to ask doctors something, so we step in to help."

He added that patients are also more willing to listen to him as he is a cancer survivor.

"Nurses try and talk them into going for surgery but they can be stubborn and refuse. But they are more willing to listen to us because we are survivors. Sometimes, they agree to the surgery after we talk to them."

The outgoing Mr Lee, who also visits Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and Singapore Cancer Society, said he will chat and joke with patients who look gloomyto cheer them up.

"Fighting cancer is tough and I know not everyone is optimistic like me, but I want to do my part to encourage them."

Mr Lee takes patients on weekly walks and has even organised trips to Malaysia and Batam Island.

Miss Ong Choo Eng, a senior nurse clinician at SGH, is impressed by how Mr Lee is always thinking of new ideas to keep patients happy.

"He holds weekly karaoke sessions. Some of them don't speak much usually but get happy when they sing because they temporarily forget the pain."

"I am thankful for how he is proactively thinking of ideas and coming up with plans to help them. He is a delight to be around and is optimistic."

Mr Lee's charity is the local Sree Narayana Mission nursing home, founded in 1948, which cares for the elderly and sick and provides financial assistance to those in need.

Bringing the kampung spirit to his HDB flat

Mr Hamzah Osman is the ideal neighbour.

The 49-year-old architectural technician voluntarily pays for and personally decorates his Housing Board flat corridor and elevator lobby for holidays and festive occasions. The handyman also readily helps neighbours whose pipes or lights need fixing.

Mr Hamzah never shuts the door of his flat at Block 700B, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6.

Neighbours often drop by for a chat before heading home. He does not even lock his door if he heads downstairs to run errands, a throwback to the kampung days of the past.

His kampung spirit extends to helping his neighbours with all things big and small.

Mr Hamzah offered to keep vigil for his neighbour's father funeral three years ago, so that the grieving man could get some sleep.

That neighbour is Mr Michael Teo, a 48-year-old assistant manager who has lived on the same storey as Mr Hamzah for 15 years. "Although we are from different races and religions, he and his wife offered to keep vigil for us... Which neighbour would be willing to do that?"

Mr Hamzah said: "They don't have a lot of relatives and we are close to them, so we do what we can to help."

More recently, a neighbour's three-year-old son was trapped in his room and Mr Hamzah was asked to help.

He pacified the crying child through the door and he calmed down immediately, as though Mr Hamzah's presence was enough to reassure the child.

Mr Hamzah said: "I lived in a kampung when I was young and my father was always ready to help our neighbours. When I grew up I wanted to continue his spirit and bring the kampung spirit into the HDB."

Mr Osman's charity is the Bishan Home for the intellectually disabled.

Clerk is volunteer driver for elderly diabetic

Every six months, Madam Irene Tan has a date - with the diabetic Madam Sam Yock Yien. Although the two are unrelated, Madam Tan, a 53-year-old clerk, insists on sending the elderly Madam Sam to her routine hospital check-ups.

Madam Tan, who lives in Yishun, is an active community volunteer who got involved because she was tired of surfing the web at home. Her children said her volunteering has made her cheerier than before.

While planting at the neighbourhood park, Madam Tan met Madam Sam, who has to go for a check-up at Singapore General Hospital every six months.

Madam Tan learnt that Madam Sam had a hard time getting to the hospital - she found it hard to get cabs and difficult to get seats if she went by train.

She then offered to drive Madam Sam to the hospital.

"It does not take me five minutes to drive from my place to hers," Madam Tan said.

The two developed a warm relationship. One time, when Madam Sam felt an ache in her stomach, she called Madam Tan, who immediately rushed over with her son.

"I tell my kids, when your grandmother goes to the hospital, your auntie, your mother and our maid will follow. But Madam Sam is alone," she said.

Madam Tan attributed her giving spirit to her secondary school teacher who encouraged her to stay in school.

"My teacher told me when I have the ability to do so, I should help others as well," Madam Tan said.

She also gives out free bread and fruits to needy residents every Wednesday night at her residents' committee centre and leads residents in exercising on Sunday mornings.

Madam Tan's charity is the Sree Narayana Mission nursing home.

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