SINGAPORE - Despite describing herself as "somewhat shy", a 13-year-old girl stepped out of her comfort zone to engage her school and write e-mails to strangers, eventually collecting more than $164,000 for the victim of an e-scooter accident.
Grade 7 student Sophia Chiam from St Joseph's Institution (International) started the crowdfunding campaign with the help of her mother in August after reading about Madam Ang Liu Kiow's plight.
In under two months, the fund for the 57-year-old accident victim received donations from 1,459 contributors.
Sophia told The Straits Times she was surprised that the crowdfunding campaign gained such traction.
"(Fund-raising) takes humility and sometimes a thick-skinned, brazen (and) forward approach, but when I reminded myself of the cause, I was able to despite being somewhat shy," she said. "It helped when total strangers stepped up and shared their thoughts and words of encouragement."
ST reported on July 26 that Madam Ang suffered brain damage after being hit by an e-scooter in 2016, and needs help to carry out activities of daily living. She also suffers from communication impairment.
In July this year, the court ordered e-scooter rider Nicholas Ting Nai Jie, 21, to pay $445,000 to Madam Ang after her husband sued him on her behalf. However, Mr Ting said through his lawyer that he would not be able to pay the sum, as he has no assets and was not covered by insurance.
Several concerned readers - Sophia and her mother, Dr Lisa Chen, included - wrote to ST offering to help Mr Leong Loon Wah, Madam Ang's husband and caretaker.
Sophia's family raised funds through SJI (International), her primary school, word of mouth and social media. They also publicised the campaign at the clinics under the Minmed Group as well as various eateries -Saveur, FrapasBar, MediumRare and Bread & Butterfly- owned by Dr Chen and her husband, Dr Eric Chiam.
In the 2016 accident, Madam Ang was hit by the electric scooter along a footpath in Pasir Ris. She hit her head on the ground when she fell, and underwent emergency surgery for bleeding in her brain.
She is now unable to speak, read or write and needs help with eating, dressing and using the bathroom. Doctors do not expect her to recover further from her disabilities.
Her husband, also 57, is a contract worker making $2,000 to $3,000 a month and the family has had to hire a helper.
Earlier this month, Sophia paid a visit to Madam Ang and her family after the crowdfunding closed on Sept 30.
Speaking to ST through his pro bono lawyer, Mr Benedict Teo from Drew & Napier, Mr Leong said that the money raised will help cover Madam Ang's recurring expenses for her medicine, physiotherapy sessions and for the helper's salary.
"I never expected such a large donation sum from the public. (I'm) very surprised that such a young girl managed to do so much (and also) by the number of Singaporeans who came forward to help," said Mr Leong.