Volunteer qigong instructor, 75, among those awarded for serving residents

Madam Ho Wai Hing has held free qigong sessions near her home in Yishun almost every morning for over 10 years. ST PHOTO: RYAN CHIONG
Nee Soon resident Ho Wai Hing leading a group of seniors at qigong practice. Madam Ho leads the practice, as well as brisk walking sessions, six times a week. PHOTO: NORTH WEST CDC

SINGAPORE - Come rain or shine, Madam Ho Wai Hing has held free qigong sessions near her home in Yishun almost every morning for over 10 years.

The 75-year-old has become firm friends with the participants, some for as long as a decade. “My friend told me she’s glad for this group that I started; it makes her happier,” she said in Mandarin.

But her sessions aren’t just for the people she knows. She also invites elderly residents passing by to join in, and others join through word of mouth. Her group has about 40 participants so far.

“It’s good for our health. I encourage the elderly to come out of their homes and join us,” she said.

For her efforts, Madam Ho was given a volunteer award on Saturday, along with 76 other people and 54 organisations that have served the North West community.

The annual awards are given out by the North West Community Development Council (CDC) to recognise those who have made a difference to residents’ lives.

Another awardee was Mr Gary Aw, who has spent the better part of his Saturdays mentoring at-risk children for the past seven years.

“All these hours (put in) are really nothing compared with other hours spent lying on one’s bed, reading one’s phone, or maybe even working. It’s really nothing much,” he said.

Under the Kids Champ Club programme by New Life Community Services, Mr Aw mentors children in skills such as public speaking. He also conducts other activities which help them develop confidence and cope with their emotions.

The 52-year-old, who works in real estate, finds meaning in guiding them onto the right path.

Recalling a mischievous eight-year-old whom he mentored, Mr Aw said he got impatient with the boy as he would always lie: “So if he said 10 things, we wouldn’t know how much of it was actually true.”

But he tried to understand the boy’s thought process and what he was going through at home, then slowly tried to change his behaviour, “not by lecturing him but by talking to him, because he’s got enough nagging from his parents already”.

Mr Aw felt very touched when the boy wrote him a letter after he graduated from the programme three years later and thanked him in his graduation speech.

Mr Lee Wei Yung, a commercial litigation lawyer, also received the award for volunteering with Pro Bono SG and helping North West residents.

He said pro bono work, where he offers free legal advice and represents clients on occasion, has allowed him to make a difference in his 15 years of service.

He recounted a case of a man who lost his wife to cancer, and had to raise a six-year-old daughter with global developmental delay on his monthly salary of $500. He faced the prospect of going to jail for traffic charges, which would have made him unable to care for his girl.

Mr Lee Wei Yung, a commercial litigation lawyer, serves as a volunteer at Pro Bono SG, supporting needy residents in the North West District with legal advice. ST PHOTO: RYAN CHIONG

Mr Lee helped him work out a more manageable fine of a few thousand dollars, which he could pay by instalments.

The 59-year-old, who worked as a senior officer in the Singapore Police Force before he practised law, said that pro bono work gives him a sense of fulfilment.

“You’re doing right. You are serving justice – it’s not just for money,” he said.

“I think when we serve people who don’t have the financial means to engage lawyers, it gets the message across, especially to the juniors, that you are in a position to make changes in people’s lives. It’s whether you want to or not.”

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