Volunteering 'worth the effort to touch someone's life'

SINGAPORE - Engineer See Hai Shu was born deaf due to rubella, but she has not let her disability get in the way of her volunteer work.

The 38-year-old has spent more than 20 years helping out in various ways - from hosting deaf visitors from abroad to taking frequent trips to less well-off countries to lend a hand.

On a trip to Myanmar last year, she spent a week talking to deaf teenagers in the hope she could inspire them to excel in their studies.

"People do not seem to be very aware of the deaf community just yet, or the problems they face," she said, when asked why she carves out the time to help others.

"It would be good if we can encourage more people to learn sign language so we can communicate with them."

On Saturday, President Tony Tan Keng Yam singled out Ms See and her colleague Janson Lim, 42, who offers free hairstyling services to the needy, as inspiring examples of volunteerism.

"It's not a one-way street - the givers get as much as the recipient. All of them feel this has made their life more worthwhile," he said at defence and engineering company ST Engineering's Family Day event, held in conjunction with the President's Challenge Volunteer Drive, on Saturday (July 22).

Ms See is an engineer with ST Marine while Mr Lim is an engineer with ST Kinetics.

Dr Tan, who launched the President's Challenge Volunteer Drive to encourage volunteerism and raise awareness of various social service needs in 2012, said volunteerism is especially important in "this period of radicalism, when something may happen in Singapore".

The drive aims to get 10,000 volunteers a year, and about 7,000 have already stepped forward so far.

"By building up our bonds… we strengthen our social fabric, so if something happens one day in Singapore, our fabric will not be destroyed," he said.

At the event, ST Engineering chairman Kwa Chong Seng presented Dr Tan with a $1 million cheque, which will go to beneficiaries under the President's Challenge.

About 50 beneficiaries from Reach Community Services Society, Touch Community Services, Boys' Town and CampusImpact were also present.

Ms See, who was serving as a befriender to the beneficiaries, urged Singaporeans to help out in whatever ways they can.

"If you have some free time, use it to help someone nearby. It is worth the effort to touch someone's life," she said.