Are we so materialistic that we have to get something in return for everything we do?

Perhaps. I was asked by many well-meaning people if I was paid as the Young Ambassador of the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) Children’s Medical Fund (CMF). When I told them that I was just a volunteer, some of them went wild…
…Aiyah! How can you be so stupid? Don’t let them exploit you. Ask them to pay you!”

Others would look at me incredulously.

They must be thinking that I have got my gold wheelchair from the NKF.

Yes, I have a gold wheelchair but it is only a cheap gold-painted one which my parents bought for me. I repeat, it is gold-painted and not gold-plated.

Now, you will probably be thinking: “Mmm…he cannot be so good. He must be hiding something from us.”

Okay, I confess. I am doing it for selfish reasons.

I want to make a positive difference in the life of my less fortunate friends. I want to inspire compassion and care by example.

And I can get what I want by being the CMF ambassador. Thanks to the NKF for giving me the opportunity to play a part, albeit a small part, in helping to save and transform the lives of many chronically-ill children. I feel good knowing that I have helped someone. It is a special feeling as I know what it is like to be in need.

About two months ago, I was lying on the operating table at the National University Hospital. The surgeon removed some spare parts from my body which had nothing to do with my fat.

Before the operation, the doctor conducted a sleep test on me and found that I stopped breathing an average of 44 times in an hour in my sleep. It was indeed a revelation. All the time, I was thinking someone switched off the air supply to deprive me of a good night sleep or my mother was trying to suffocate me because she “slept” on the wrong side of the bed.

Anyway, I asked the doctor if the operation to remove my tonsils and more would be dreadfully painful for me.

The doctor replied: “Yah! It will hurt only when you get my bill.”

He is right. Although my parents are paying for my medical bills, it pains me to see them do so. They have to sacrifice a lot just to make sure that I am in good shape. I know I am chubby – obese by your standard – but isn’t round a good shape?

I am lucky. How about the other chronically-ill children whose parents cannot afford the high cost of medication for their illnesses?

Some children may be too young to understand the impact of their condition on their desperate parents. However, those who do are tormented by agonizing pain, extreme anxiety and absolute despair. They usually express their anguish in flowing tears and heartrending sobs.

It is within your power to help them so that they can cry less and dream more. By contributing to the CMF, you can reduce their suffering, give them hope and rekindle their spirit. The CMF cannot continue to help them without your commitment to the fund.

If you do not wish to contribute, I believe the greatest favour you can do for the CMF is not to discourage or stop others from doing so.

You will be doing grave injustice to thousands of chronically-ill children and their desperate parents, especially those who need lifetime support, if you say unkind things about the CMF without any basis or out of ignorance.

The CMF has to be strong to continue supporting its healthcare and rehabilitation programmes which include treatment, medication, public education, disease intervention and medical research.

More importantly, it has to be sound to give its beneficiaries peace of mind. More details on the CMF can be found on www.cmf.nkfs.org.

You can help. I appeal to you to help my less fortunate friends. They need you to save them from their misery.

If you ask me why you should help because it is not your business or problem after all, my response is: We are humans, not animals.

(This journal entry can be found in TODAY on 15 September 2004.)