For Charity

The Cause

Tan Tock Seng Community Charity Fund

Through climbing Everest in 2012, I will also be raising funds for the Tan Tock Seng Community Charity fund for needy patients.

Many middle income families can manage day-to-day expenses. However, if one member falls seriously ill, they would have difficulties coping. Sadly, many of these families are not eligible for welfare assistance because they belong to the ‘sandwich class’ (Not rich enough to afford medical bills yet not poor enough to qualify for public assistance). The TTSH Community Charity Fund steps in to provide the necessary assistance when other avenues of help are insufficient or not available.

The TTSH Community Charity Fund was set up in 1995. Driven mostly through the generosity of donors, the fund aims to give aid, whether financial or in kind, for the care of needy patients. It provides help for essentials such as medical services and treatments, drugs, equipment, and assistive devices. In addition, it also helps to continue home care services and complete necessary caregiver training.

The Charity Fund at TTSH has come up with many programmes that have a proven track record. Some of them include programmes for the elderly, and for patients with chronic diseases. Such patients suffer from complex and recalcitrant conditions which need constant medical care, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, peripheral vascular diseases requiring amputations, heart failure, stroke and even cancer. There is always a need to ensure that the Charity Fund has the ability to continue its good work.

Although the Singapore public healthcare system is robust compared to most developed nations, it is not a panacea. This is where individual efforts hope to make a difference.

I hope to help replenish these funds in his own small way; to allow the patients and their families to finally reach the tops of their mountains of struggle.

Each of my 5 main climbs especially my climb up Mt Everest will represent the struggles that these patients and their families face. Each mountain that I summit will represent the day to day hurdles that these patients have to overcome, things that many take for granted. I hope that in by planning my efforts this way, I will be able to reach out to donors, who can see that with every milestone I overcome during my journey, their donations will go to someone who needs it.

My fund-raising series of climbs is called “No Mountain Too High”.

I want to make it clear that that contributing the charity fund and contributing to my climbing expenses are 2 separate entities. Those who wish to contribute for my climb can do so without contributing for the charity fund and vice versa. In addition, in my own capacity, I will be footing the expenses of my climb as well as contributing to the charity fund as much as possible.

To date (Feb 2012), I have managed to raise a total of almost SGD $30, 000 for the patients of TTSH.

Medical Clinic in Phortse, Solokhumbu, Nepal

I also hope to do some medical mission work at a poor Sherpa village in ‘Phortse’ in the Everest region of Nepal for a month before climbing Everest.

None of the great Himalayan ascents accomplished by the westerners would have been possible without the great skills and fitness of the Sherpa people of the Everest region. Even by risking their lives to help their climbing clients to reach the top of mountains, their yearly income is below the national average of that of the Nepalese people. Furthermore, Nepal was ranked 32 amongst the world’s poorest countries in the UN 2010 Human Development report. Afghanistan was the only other Asian country poorer than Nepal. The nearest medical centre from this village is 1 day’s walk away. Many choose not to visit the clinic even in ill health as they’re too sick to walk for a day. For the extremely sick patients, they will have to be carried on stretcher to the nearest medical centre (set up by the Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation) and heli-evacuated to the nearest proper hospital in Kathmandu (the capital of Nepal), 136km away.

I am in the process of acquiring medicine and medical equipment for the village. I also hope to make this clinic in the village more self sustainable once I leave by passing on as much medical knowledge to an under trained ‘Doctor’ (a nurse with 18 months of ‘doctor’ training) who has been recently posted to the village to help with the problem of lack of medical care.

I will be leaving to the village in early March 2012. I hope to set up a proper medical facility before I leave for my Everest expedition in April 2012. Another doctor, and friend of mine, will be taking over the clinic for another 2 months while I’m away on Everest. Together we hope that we can at least make a small difference in the lives of the sherpa people of ‘Phortse’ who have toiled through the many years serving the needs of climbers from all around the world. Its about time more climbers give something back to them.

School in Aahale, Gorkha, Nepal

The village of Gorkha is something very close to my heart. When I was in secondary 3 in Raffles Institution, we were the pioneering batch of students from Singapore who did an overseas community service project in the village in 1999.

We started raising funds through cash and kind from the beginning of the year. It involved the team if teachers and students collecting old books, stationery, clothes and even had us making durian cakes and washing cars. When we eventually got to the school which was 150+km west of Kathmandu sometime in the middle of December, we performed miscellaneous projects such painting the school, setting up a library system and building a garden and toilet for the school. We conducted an English day camp, art competition and even had cultural exchange programs. We planned and executed a Singaporean style camp fire and the Singaporean students had a home stay visit in the Nepalese student’s houses for a day or two. This was my 1st time in Nepal and my 1st encounter with the mountains. One could say that this was my 1st inspiration to climb.

When I was there I realised how unfortunate and poor the people from the village were. Something that I remember clearly was that the children used to keep the shiny glossy labels from medicine bottles as decorative items as there were no coloured print materials available. They would guard these labels very closely show their friends in school on how pretty their own ‘label’ was.

Another thing that I remember was that the whole village had only one water pump which could only work for 1-2H in the morning and for the same period of time in the evenings. Thus the locals would have to walk as far as 2km and queue up at this single water pipe every day to collect water; and yet none of them complained and everyone was proud of this water pipe. It was as though it was the village’s tourist attraction because every single home stay family brought its Singaporean guests to take a look at this water pump for some reason. This just brought to light how fortunate we were back in Singapore and made me appreciate the simple things I had and taken for granted.

With my Everest title sponsors keen in helping a school, I thought it would be great to return back to this school after 13 years to continue rendering service. One thing that I hope to achieve during this trip back to the school is to take snapshots of the children and their families and hope to print the photos on the spot and give it to them via a compact portable photo printer due to their lack of coloured printed materials available. Me and my sponsors are now in the process of tying down the details of this exciting project which will take me to the place where it all began.


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