ST 12 Days of Christmas Surprises: Day 6 winner thanks his uncle for raising him

The Day 6 winner of the inaugural The Straits Times 12 Days of Christmas Surprises contest is Mr Jaykay Zhan. -- ST GRAPHIC
The Day 6 winner of the inaugural The Straits Times 12 Days of Christmas Surprises contest is Mr Jaykay Zhan. -- ST GRAPHIC

Ever since he was three, Mr Jaykay Zhang has looked up to his mother's eldest brother as a father figure.

His parents had left him in the care of his uncle, Mr Toh Seng Kee, back in 1992 - and never came back for him.

Till today, Mr Zhang has no news of his parents. His relatives also would not reveal details about them.

His uncle, nevertheless, has always raised him as his own child, providing him with an education and often treating him to his favourite meal of fried dough sticks and soya-bean milk.

To express his deepfelt appreciation, Mr Zhang, now a 24-year-old freelance designer, had nominated his uncle to win a prize in the inaugural Straits Times 12 Days of Christmas Surprises contest.

As the Day 6 winner, Mr Toh, a cleaner in his 60s, will take home an Asus Nexus 7 tablet, courtesy of our presenting partner Standard Chartered.

Adjusting to life without his parents was hard, Mr Zhang revealed, especially when he was still in school and had to endure events such as meet-the-parents sessions.

Thankfully, the constant support of his uncle and his family - Mr Zhang has three older cousins aged between 29 and 35 - helped alleviate some pain.

"Like my cousins, I started calling my uncle 'papa' and my auntie 'mama'," Mr Zhang told The Straits Times, adding that his uncle had "changed his life".

In an e-mail entry submitted to the Christmas contest, Mr Zhang wrote: "My uncle is more than a dad, he is my everything."

When told about the prize, Mr Toh said: "I am not very good with technology but I am happy that we won the prize.

"I'm just doing what an elder will do - to take care of the children."

Together with our presenting partner Standard Chartered, this paper is giving one mystery gift to one reader a day until Dec 24.

Tech gadgets and household appliances worth $6,000 in total will be given away as part of The Straits Times Appreciates Readers (Star) series to reach out to readers and the community.

To take part, just tell us in not more than 40 words: "Why my loved one or I deserve to get a gift from The Straits Times."

E-mail your entry to stxmas@sph.com.sg and include your full name, NRIC number and cellphone number. The contest is open until noon on Dec 23.

audreyt@sph.com.sg

To check out readers' entries as well as up-to-date stories on Christmas, please go to www.straitstimes.com/st-christmas-2013