A life worth emulating

A life worth emulating
Dr Tan Lai Yong with Mr Xiao Weicheng, 25, a farmer-turned-village doctor he has helped train - one of nine serving 10,000 people. In 1996, the Christian doctor uprooted his family from a comfortable life in Singapore to move to rural, mountainous Xishuangbanna and over the years, he has been a provider, running clinics and giving local farmers basic medical training to become "barefoot" doctors.

Dr Tan Lai Yong ("'Wandering saint' of Singapore"; last Friday) is a most remarkable Singaporean. We should emulate his humility and outlook on life.

After years of working in the accounting line, I took a leap of faith and ventured into pre-school education.

I faced disapproval from my parents and bafflement from others who could not understand why I gave up a promising career in a major multinational corporation for a lowly paid job in the pre-school industry.

They thought I should be building up my financial nest egg for my family, with three young children and two aged parents.

After completing my specialist diploma in early childhood education, I worked as a pre-school educator for seven years.

During that time, I learnt many invaluable lessons that I would never have learnt in a big corporate environment. It is satisfying to know that I made meaningful contributions to the lives of young children.

Though I recently rejoined the accounting profession, as the low pay in the pre-school industry made it impossible to support my family in the long run, the experience helped me to discover more about myself.

Life is too short to live regretting what one should have tried but never did. I am glad to have been given the opportunity to take that journey.

Right now, I am happy living in an HDB flat in a convenient location, so that I do not need a car.

I hope my children are happy, and that they will give back to society when they grow up.

Dr Tan's life is a timely reminder to pause and reflect on our pursuit of the five Cs.


Teo Tze Wei


This article was published on April 9 in The Straits Times.

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