Make-A-Wish Singapore aims to grant 2,000 wishes to benefit more critically ill children

Make-A-Wish beneficiary Jovan Chow with his mother Cheng Hae Yong. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - When he was 14, Jovan Chow was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia, a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow.

The teenager could have lost his will to fight the cancer. But he did not allow that to happen.

"I was just focused on recovering and wanting to go home to my family, and resuming my normal life," said Jovan, now 17.

The leukaemia survivor is now determined to help children who have cancer, but with his own special way.

An online gaming enthusiast, Jovan organised a Valorant gaming tournament last year to raise $4,721,which he donated to organisations that support children with cancer.

It was Make-A-Wish Singapore that helped make his fund-raising tournament a reality. The non-profit organisation strives to improve the lives of children with cancer or other critical illnesses, and enhance their quality of life.

After fulfilling the wishes of more than 1,700 critically ill children over the last 20 years, Make-A-Wish Singapore has announced a new 2,000 wishes target on its 20th anniversary on World Wish Day 2022 on Friday (April 29), to help more children living with critical illnesses and their families.

It has not set a time frame for the 2,000 wishes to be fulfilled.

Local digital media company SGAG is partnering Make-A-Wish Singapore this year to support that aim. It will help produce content such as videos on social media to encourage Singaporeans to refer suitable kids to the organisation.

Ms Michelle Tan, general manager of SGAG, said: "We want to raise more awareness for the life-changing wish experiences Make-a-Wish Singapore can create for their beneficiaries and be part of this inspiring journey of restoring hope for children with critical illnesses and their families."

Qistina Aisha, a 13-year-old who had a heart condition since birth but has since recovered, was unaware that she could tap the Make-A-Wish organisation to make her dream of flying a plane come true.

Her father, Mr Ashiq Osman, 50, was initially dumbfounded when his daughter's cardiologist advised him to reach out to the organisation.

"We didn't know if she qualified (for it), and we thought that many other terminally ill patients were more deserving," he told The Straits Times.

"But we decided to do it after the nudge from her cardiologist who said, 'She's gone through so much since birth, why do you not think she is deserving of joy and happiness?'"

Make-A-Wish beneficiary Qistina Aisha with her father Ashiq Osman. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Aisha fulfilled her wish when she was taken on a behind-the-scenes tour at Singapore Airlines' training centre and got the opportunity to use a flight simulator.

Dr Jeremy Lin, vice-chairman of Make-A-Wish Singapore, said one of the many misconceptions about Make-A-Wish is the assumption that it grants wishes only to terminally ill, and not critically ill, children.

Noting that the organisation is now focusing on correcting such misconceptions, Dr Lin said: "We are reaching out to the healthcare workers because they are the ones who have to get it right, so they can explain it to parents. We are also trying very hard to explain through social media.

"With medical advances, more children are surviving critical illness. So we are evolving our wish to be branded more like a recovery wish rather than a dying wish."

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