40 years between photos for couple

Mr Khoo Piak Choon and Madam Qui Jok Poh with their wedding photo - the only formal picture they had of themselves together until Mr Kelvin Lim (far left) took their portrait for the Home Nursing Foundation.
Mr Khoo Piak Choon and Madam Qui Jok Poh with their wedding photo - the only formal picture they had of themselves together until Mr Kelvin Lim (far left) took their portrait for the Home Nursing Foundation.ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

Home nursing service project takes portraits of patients with loved ones

Until recently, the only formal photograph that Madam Qui Jok Poh had with her husband, Mr Khoo Piak Choon, was taken more than 40 years ago on their wedding day.

Now, the couple, both in their 70s, have a new photo together, thanks to an initiative by the Home Nursing Foundation (HNF).

Since August last year, the voluntary welfare organisation has been working with photographer Kelvin Lim to take portraits of patients with their loved ones.

During the Chinese New Year week, the foundation delivered framed prints of these photos, enlarged to around A4-size, to the families.

The project, called Portraits of Love, is aimed at giving patients something to treasure and take their minds off their illnesses.

"When we visited them, we noticed that they tended to have very few photos," said Ms Agnes Ho, manager of communications and development at HNF. "Whatever pictures they had were treasured by them."

FOR A GOOD CAUSE

I have no money and no talent to contribute, so I don't mind letting them use my photo to raise funds for the people who are more needy.

MADAM LEE KUEN KUEN, 85, giving approval for her picture to be used in a photo book for charity

Madam Qui, 75, said: "We're too busy with other things and we're old. We haven't taken a photo in many years."

Ms Ho said that they met some initial resistance from older patients, who thought that they were having funeral pictures taken.

Those who were won over, however, got the royal treatment as the foundation enlisted the aid of volunteer make-up artists to help their clients look their best.

"For many of them, it was the first time they were pampered like that," Ms Ho said. "They were very happy."

The HNF provides home-based nursing, medical and therapy services for those who are too ill to leave their homes for treatment.

In its financial year that ended March 2015, the HNF served about 4,500 people, many of whom have chronic problems such as kidney failure or diabetes. A total of 45 of them have had their photos taken so far.

Mr Lim, 45, who runs his own photo studio, volunteered his services. He said: "I've been doing charity work, but I'd never really been in touch with beneficiaries in this way. When we visited, we realised that every one of them has a lot to say."

He photographs the HNF patients in their homes.

The HNF is planning to compile the photos into a book and sell it to raise funds. It is also working with the Agency for Integrated Care to organise a photo exhibition at Raffles City Shopping Centre from April 22 to April 24 to raise awareness of the work the HNF does.

Madam Lee Kuen Kuen, 85, who lives alone in an Ang Mo Kio flat, said: "I have no money and no talent to contribute, so I don't mind letting them use my photo to raise funds for the people who are more needy."

In her portrait, which sits prominently on top of her fridge, she is striking a pose with a handheld fan and beaming at the camera.

Asked if she liked it, she smiled and said: "Are you serious? How can I not like it?"

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 25, 2016, with the headline '40 years between photos for couple'. Print Edition | Subscribe