|Distance view of Orphanage in Batam run by a Singaporean|
Recently, I changed to a day shift taxi driver after six years as a night shift driver. Perhaps a divine voice reassured me that I had made the right decision in my shift change, as I was rewarded with meeting an exceptionally benevolent man on the very first day of my day driving. It was a day I will never forget for a lot of reasons.
Here is my true story.
This Tuesday, around ten in the morning, a booking came in to pick someone at a Hillview Avenue condo. Standing alone at the lobby was a skinny local Chinese man in his late-fifties. He wore a blue striped short sleeve shirt and a pair of pants in light beige color; both were neatly ironed. He looks ordinary and was smiling as I rolled into the lobby. Beside him were about ten cardboard boxes. With him giving me a helping hand, we had no problem loading his stuffs into the boot and back seat of my taxi.
As he gingerly seated himself beside me, he politely told me in pure Teochew to send him to HarbourFront...ferry loading bay. He must be a trader with business in Batam, I told myself. As I drove along, I asked him in Hokkien, "How is business in Batam". His answer was an astonishing revelation of sort.
"I don't have business in Batam anymore" he answered slowly. And after a long pause and looking straight into my eyes like a psychiatrist carefully examining his patient, he eventually continued "I used to co-own and run the biggest shipyard in Batam. After we sold our shipyard to an Arabian company, I'm now semi-retired.
"What are those boxes for" I asked with tongue in cheek.
Again, with some reluctant he answered, "Goodies for kids in Batam"
At that point, many questions floated in my mind. "Why is this rich man, who lived in a condo and once owned and run the biggest shipyard, is now sending goodies to children in Batam. If this delivery is not for business, then what?" For fun-fair or charity?
I was intrigued and wanted to know more but I reminded myself to be tactful with my queries as he wasn't much of a conversationalist and perhaps age had made him taciturn.
After much careful deliberation, I asked "Are the goodies for poor children in Batam"
On hearing my compelling question, his sleepy eyes brighten up and he spontaneously answered "Yes, I run an orphanage in Batam for charity and these goodies are for "my kids" there. If you want to know more of my orphanage, you're welcome to join me in my next trip there this coming Saturday.
I was shocked at his impromptu offer. Can I believe what he said, a total stranger?. The only way to find out is to accept his invitation and follow him to his orphanage in Batam which I did yesterday.,
Wow!, here we have, a true blue pioneer Singaporean who built his wealth through sheer hard work and is now contributing back to the society in Batam, particularly in making a difference in the life of many orphaned kids there. Why he did that? What kind of orphanage he runs in Batam? What kind of a person is this remarkable Singaporean who run his orphanage out of his own pocket money, without donations, whatsoever. What are his personal motivations and views of the kind of society and government we have in Singapore. And many more.......
I'll answer these questions in my next post as I've urgent personal matters to attend to right now. Meanwhile, here are two photos of the Batam orphanage run by Mr. Chua.
|Courtyard inside Orphanage|