Saturday, July 20, 2013

Almost Lost

Poverty kills, and it almost killed an innocent baby during the 70s when Singapore was beginning to develop herself as a nation. At a time when needs were plenty and resources scares. Thankfully an invisible hand was able to reach far and deep to save. 

The story is about a couple with 6 children and the young wife is now pregnant with the 7th.  Already struggling to make ends meet, the news of another pregnancy was unwelcome.  The couple consulted an illegal physician who then prescribed some chinese herbs to abort the child.  It turn out that something went "wrong", or should I say went right.  The abortion was unsuccessful. Back in those days, abortion clinics are not easily accessible. If it has been so, there would be no story to tell.

The mother had no choice but to carry the baby to full term. Against all odd, a cute baby boy called Kek Hin was born.  Unlike most babies, Kek Hin was not delivered at a public hospital.  Instead, he was born at home with the help from his grandmother. It was a difficult labour.  He was pale and breathless when delivered into the hands of his grandmother. His parents recalled that it was a miracle that their son survived the ordeal.

That’s not all to the story. Kek Hin’s parents decided to sell him to a rich couple who desperately wanted a boy to carry on their family name.  The amount for adoption was discussed and the day came to exchange the baby for some cash.  Kek Hin’s eldest brother Kek Kong, 13 years old at that time, prevented the transaction from taking place.  He challenged his parents saying that he would kill himself on the spot (jumping down from the 12  floor rental apartment) if they so decide to go ahead with the selling of his little brother.  He told his parents that he would quit school in order to go out to work and buy milk for Kek Hin.

Years went by, and the family struggled to make ends meet. The mother had to work many jobs.  She worked as a house cleaner in the morning. In the afternoon, she cleans at a factory.  At night, she has tons of laundry to wash, children to discipline and school homework to supervise.  Her days were long and hard.  With sunken cheek and wearied body, she awakes every morning, talking along with her the youngest son, Kek Hin, to the many places she went to do cleaning.

When the boy was ten years old, Kek Hin’s second brother Kek Eng brought him to join a community group with other children.  They had games and fun every week.  There, the volunteers gave free tuition to many needy children like Kek Hin.  Most children love to go to the centre not because they could get free tuition, as many were not at all interested in studies.  They went because it was there where they felt loved.  The volunteers loved and cared for each child as though they were siblings, part of a family. 

More then 3 decades have passed since the day Kek Hin joined that group. It was there that he  experienced kindness and the power of unconditional giving. Today, his parents are in their 80s and has 18 grandchildren and a great-grandchild. Kek Hin has a master degree in social work and pursues a works close to his heart; serving the underprivileged people.

Well, Kek Hin is Michael, founder of Tea Talk.