She is all about caring
Student healthcare pioneer becomes first woman to receive tabla! Community Champion Award
Ask Dr Uma Rajan what she does for a living and be prepared for a very long answer.
Known for her pioneering work in student healthcare in Singapore, she also served as director of eldercare in the Ministry of Health.
Now, she is a consultant for healthcare, Indian arts, heritage and culture.
But if you wanted to shorten the answer down to just two words, it would be "helping people".
"Caring for others was part and parcel of growing up for me," said Dr Rajan.
"I spent my pre-school years in India and lived with my extended family that was very supportive and loving, sharing a very close relationship.
"I learnt that happiness shared is doubled and unhappiness shared is minimised."
Yesterday, the 75-year-old doctor received the tabla! Community Champion Award, making her the first woman to receive the award in its five-year history.
The award recognises a deserving member of the Indian community who has done outstanding work with the less fortunate in Singapore.
When asked how she felt about being the first female recipient of the award, Dr Rajan said: "I feel very happy for women, and it gives a different perspective to the award."
She added that her desire to help those around her began when she was just a child.
During the floods in Potong Pasir in 1954, Dr Rajan followed her doctor father around to help.
"When my dad pulled a body out of the flood, I realised that natural disasters are beyond our control but you can teach people how to deal and cope with them," she said.
During Dr Rajan's years in student healthcare, she implemented a new student health record system - the health booklet, which documents a child's growth from Primary 1 to pre-university.
She said: "The health booklet is for healthcare staff, teachers and parents.
"It documents the physical, mental, behavioural as well as the educational status and issues in students, thereby enabling totality of student healthcare."
Dr Rajan's passion for helping others does not stop with children.
Making good use of her wide network of friends, she arranged to get free spectacles and hearing aids for the young and old alike, who are visually and hearing impaired.
And as the vice-chairman of Siglap South Community Centre's management committee, she launched several educational programmes for children. She arranged tuition classes for Primary 6 children who are poor learners and sourced for a donor to pay the tutor.
Through her work with the elderly, Dr Rajan feels that she is able to understand the issues they face.
"The issues of the ageing population and of caregivers tear my heart," she said.
And it is this caring spirit which Mr Patrick Jonas, editor of tabla!, said that Dr Rajan is being recognised for.
"She is the perfect role model for today's youngsters who wish to serve the community with the talent and means at their disposal," he said.