Couple who lost child start nonprofit to help other kids

Above: Mr Sandeep Singla and his wife Neha Wilson at the grave of their late daughter Zarouhi (left).
Above: Mr Sandeep Singla and his wife Neha Wilson at the grave of their late daughter Zarouhi.PHOTOS: MARK CHEONG, SANDEEP SINGLA
Above: Mr Sandeep Singla and his wife Neha Wilson at the grave of their late daughter Zarouhi (left).
Mr Sandeep Singla and his wife Neha Wilson at the grave of their late daughter Zarouhi (above).PHOTOS: MARK CHEONG, SANDEEP SINGLA

A couple who lost their infant daughter to a rare liver disease last year have started a nonprofit organisation to help other children battling life-threatening illnesses, and their families.

Mr Sandeep Singla and his wife Neha Wilson set up Bless a Braveheart in memory of their daughter Zarouhi, who died shy of her 10th month last September.

She was born with biliary atresia, which affects one in every 15,000 infants and can be deadly. Mr Sandeep had donated part of his liver to her in a failed transplant last August, and a Straits Times story a week later, on his desperate plea for donors, drew more than 200 e-mails.

But she developed a severe blood infection, and died after battling the infection and organ failure for weeks.

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"We like to believe she's in a better place now - she went through a lot of pain going in and out of hospital, and no parent wants to see her child going through that," said Ms Wilson.

"Every day when I take a shower I see the scar from the surgery and think of Zarouhi," said Mr Sandeep, a general manager at Shell.

The couple, both 35, visit her grave at Choa Chu Kang cemetery every Sunday.

Work for Bless a Braveheart, a private limited company which they co-founded with Mr Sandeep's colleague Andy Teo, also helps to keep them busy.

"We couldn't save our own child, but we want her legacy to stay alive and other kids to be helped," said Mr Sandeep.

The nonprofit aims to raise funds for needy children who are patients at the National University Hospital, where Zarouhi was treated. The couple also hope to connect families going through similar ordeals through its website. Bless a Braveheart was set up last November but the couple have put on hold plans to attain charity status as they lack the expertise and resources to manage one.

Instead, the organisation will be raising money ad hoc through its website and donating the funds periodically to NUHS Fund Limited, which will direct it to children in need of financial aid.

After living in Singapore for about two years, the Indian nationals will be relocating to the Netherlands for Mr Sandeep's work, leaving Mr Teo and another director to handle the nonprofit's operations here.

The couple will be returning in September to mark the first anniversary of Zarouhi's death and make Bless a Braveheart's first donation. They are hoping to grow the team, and are seeking volunteers.

Said Mr Sandeep: "We've had immense love and care from people here - this country is full of people who have stepped forward to help."

•To donate, volunteer or seek support, visit www.blessabraveheart.com.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 04, 2017, with the headline 'Couple who lost child start nonprofit to help other kids'. Print Edition | Subscribe