Causes Week 2017: Bonding over swopping tales of life under Japanese occupation and trips to Legoland

Dayna Shanaia and Ang Peng Hong are part of an inter-generational book project called Live A Legacy.
Dayna Shanaia and Ang Peng Hong are part of an inter-generational book project called Live A Legacy. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - A language barrier and an almost 80-year age gap did not stop Primary 2 pupil Dayna Shanaia Maha and retiree Ang Peng Hong from co-writing a book about the importance of being happy.

As part of an inter-generational book project called Live A Legacy, Mandarin-speaking Mr Ang, 86, filled the first five pages of a blank book with colourful drawings and a personal story. The story was translated into English, and then passed to Dayna, eight, who wrote and illustrated the last five pages of the story.

They met for the first time last week. With the help of a translator, Mr Ang read Dayna's story about her sleepover and trip to Legoland in Johor. Later, he told her about his own childhood. "When I was 13, I sold firewood during the Japanese Occupation to help my family."

Live A Legacy is led by Air Amber, an organisation that involves children and youth in community projects. The project, which was featured in The Straits Times Causes Week last December, is funded by St Luke's ElderCare and will involve about 400 of its beneficiaries.

The project aims to bring together about 500 pairs of seniors and young people aged 25 and under in Singapore. Since its inception at the end of last year, about 200 books have been completed. The co-authors range from six-year-olds to those in their 90s.

The books will be compiled and made available in public libraries.

Air Amber co-founder and chief executive Suraj Upadhiah, 28, said: "We put forth a space where they (seniors and young people) are on an equal footing. They both have equal opportunities to give to the other: I give five pages, you give five pages."

One participant in her late 80s penned a personal story, adding her own drawings of dresses from a boutique she used to run. Said Mr Upadhiah: "It opened my eyes... Someone who has severe dementia remembered the past so well."

Her story will be completed by a former Lasalle student who will design a dress based on the drawings.

Live A Legacy is part of a larger initiative called Our Loving Population.


Under this initiative, Air Amber has rolled out Amber Bus, an experiential bus tour highlighting the many levels of poverty in Singapore, as well as two inter-generational spaces, Live Labs and Live Cafe, which opened recently at the St Luke's ElderCare centre in Ayer Rajah.

Causes Week returns this year for the sixth time, from Dec 4 to 10. Anyone with a story or cause to share can write in to be featured in The Straits Times.

To find out how to take part in Air Amber's projects, go to