Caregivers to sick children awarded in special ceremony at Mandai Zoo

Ms Revel B. Tomas (left) has been helping Ms Li Bao Yu (right) take care of Ang Mei Qi. Ms Tomas was one of the caregivers recognised for her efforts by local charity Club Rainbow on Sept 14, 2019. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Several caregivers of children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses were recognised on Saturday (Sept 14) for their hard work, conviction, and resourcefulness.

A total of eight caregivers and two siblings of children with chronic illnesses received awards from the local charity Club Rainbow, at the Mandai Zoo.

The event, with the theme "Celebrating Heroes", was the fifth edition of the awards ceremony for Club Rainbow, a local charity that supports children with chronic and life-threatening diseases. It witnessed the most recipients since it was inaugurated.

"The award is dedicated to these caregiving heroes who inspire others to be resilient in the face of challenges. Most importantly, we want our caregivers to know that they are not alone in their journey and we will be there to support them along the way," said Dr Sashikumar Ganapathy, President of Club Rainbow.

On Saturday, six recipients were given the Exemplary Caregiver Award and two were presented with the Commendable Award. Two siblings received the Exemplary Sibling Award, to thank them for their kind actions and selflessness in the face of their sibling's chronic illness.

One of the caregivers was Madam Chan Fui Lee, 51, mother of 16-year-old Cheong Chel Sie, who suffers from a chromosome disorder and autism.

Chel Sie's illness has slowed her mental development and her physical health. In her early years, she was also in and out of hospital and needed feeding every two hours.

To care for her daughter, Madam Chan quit her job as a sales and marketing manager when Chel Sie was fifteen months old.

Madam Chan also told The Straits Times that she struggled to cope at times with her daughter, who would sometimes scratch, kick, pinch, or headbutt her.

"My husband and I are still finding solutions to minimise and handle this behaviour. But what is rewarding is that we have learned to be stronger people, and we have learned a lot throughout this process," said Madam Chan.

"I worry about the future and what will happen when we are not around," she said, adding that they were saving up as much as they could for Chel Sie's future.

"I do what I can to care for her, and to bring her up and teach her whatever I can, so she can be more independent in the future," she said.

Ten-year-old Charmeine Lee Kai En was one of the two recipients of the Exemplary Sibling Award.

She cares for her seven-year-old brother, Bryan Lee Kai Jie, who suffers from cerebral palsy and an intellectual disability.

Charmeine helps her parents to babysit her brother when they are at work, and volunteers to help bathe and feed him.

"I play with him and if my parents are out, I take care of him and watch him when he's playing with his soft toys and watching TV. He likes music and I like music too," said Charmeine, who is a student at Hong Wen Primary School.

She added that she learned over time that her brother was strong and very brave, in spite of his disability.

"I want my brother to be like me next time, so we can go out together, eat, and not worry about him," she said.

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