“Every night, when the lights are out, I dream of becoming a scientist or writer so that I can effect change and make a positive difference in the life of others.”

That was one of my lines for…

…my performance in a musical presented by the Athenarts Performing Troupe.

The event: The launch of the annual President’s Challenge by President S R Nathan at the Jubilee Hall, Raffles Hotel, on May 26.

I was invited by Ms Rosemary Chng, the organiser of the event, to be part of the cast. Although I knew I had to take valuable time off from my preparation for the O level Chinese examination which would be held just after the event, I did not have second thoughts about accepting the invitation.

I attended rehearsal after rehearsal and missed some of my regular tuition classes. In addition to that, I had to spend time memorising and practising my lines and the lyrics of the beautiful song, Born to Sing. It was a small sacrifice I had to make to fulfil my aspiration of being a useful member of society by helping others in any way I can. Besides achieving my goal, I was glad that I could be part of the event because, by the end of the show, I gained so much.

Ralph Waldo Emerson was right when he said: “The greatest compensation in life is that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” I have been well compensated.

I got to meet the charming President and the gracious First Lady again. It is always a special privilege for me to be able to meet them.

During my involvement, I made many new friends. They were so nice to me that it was difficult for me to bid them farewell after the show. I hope our paths will cross again in the near future. Most of all, I saw for myself how hard the volunteers worked behind the scenes. Without them, the event could not have run so smoothly. They were truly the unsung heroes.

Those who have put in the hard work can take comfort that the funds raised through the President’s Challenge will benefit at least 49 charities. The number of beneficiaries may increase if the total amount collected at the end of the campaign is more than expected.

I hope that the amount raised this year will far exceed the $8 million target.

Playing my part as Today columnist, who writes to, among other things, make a positive difference in the life of others, I would like to appeal to you to support the President’s Challenge.

Please donate generously to the fund by calling 1900-112 1008 for a $5 donation or doing it online at www.pc2006.org.sg.

Going back to my introductory line, I would like to point out that it reflected my thoughts. The director, Ms Iris Koh, was kind enough to allow me the liberty to change the script for my role so that I could express my true self during the musical presentation.

Ms Koh also confirmed my belief that the handicapped can be included in most group activities if the organiser is ingenious enough. She choreographed the dance routine in such a way that I could “sashay” on the stage with the rest of the troupe. It was indeed a wonderful experience for me.

For those who know me as an ardent supporter of the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), I would like to state that I am still with the organisation. I am not a fair weather friend of the NKF, now known as the new NKF. Therefore, I have not jumped ship. From the bottom of my heart, I wish that all the past donors of the NKF who are no longer donating will renew their support. The patients need their help too. Things have changed for the better at the new NKF.

It deserves their support again.

And I urge those who have stopped their donations to be there for the patients by being forgiving and giving to the organisation. I mention forgiving because I still hear some people say that they have stopped donating to all charitable causes since the NKF saga.

I entreat them to forgive so that they can break the shackles of selfishness and revert to their true selves of caring for the less fortunate. There is no point in them handcuffing themselves in resentment and hate for the rest of their lives.

(This journal entry was published on 30 May 2006 of TODAY)