Lecturer continues to 'teach' in death

Family members, friends, relatives, doctors and medical students sending off the four Silent Mentors at a special ceremony at Universiti Malaya.
PHOTO: Lecturer continues to 'teach' in death

KUALA LUMPUR - Vietnamese lecturer Maria Ly Lan Phuong dedicated her life to teaching and nurturing the young, and it will continue even after her death.

The 53-year-old, who died of lung cancer, became the first non-Malaysian Silent Mentor to have pledged her body for medical training and research.

"My mother had always gone out of her way to help others, especially in education. She believed that even when she is dead, she could still contribute to society (thus she signed up for the programme)," said her daughter Dinh Phuong Mai, , who is currently studying for her Master in Management at a private university here.

Born in Vinh Long, a small city in the Mekong River Delta, Ly held a Master of Business Administration from the University of Brussels, Belgium, and Master in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from the University of Canberra, Australia.

She had also worked as the human resource manager at Petronas Carigali Vietnam and was the director of Unesco Heritage Programmes but spent most of her time lecturing at universities in Vietnam.

In 2006, the mother of two girls and a boy was diagnosed with cancer. She successfully underwent treatments but suffered a relapse four years later.

Ly came here to be with Mai in 2012, and opted for palliative care.

Joining her at the eighth Silent Mentor Workshop at Universiti Malaya here were three others - voluntary worker Ng Poh Imm, 54, housewife Lee Siew Lan, 48, and financial planner Tan See See, 47.

All four Silent Mentors, who died last year, were sent off in a simple yet elegant ceremony attended by their loved ones, relatives, friends, doctors and medical students yesterday.

Lee, a pancreatic cancer patient, overcame family objections to show them the real meaning of giving and sharing.

Her selfless move eventually inspired her husband Kor Toong Ngee and son to also sign up for the programme.

"I wish that my contribution will bring the world closer and let everyone see that a simple deed of giving could make a big impact in the lives of many" were her final words.

Ng's son Yeoh Soo Ming said: "My mother had taken it as a challenge from God and fought with great courage and strength, and had consistently encouraged other cancer patients to be optimistic."

The Penangite, who had breast cancer, left behind a note for the medical students who would benefit from her contribution: "Hope this fragile body of mine will be of use to you to fulfil your dream of becoming a good doctor ..."

Nearly 500 people have signed up for the Silent Mentor programme since it commenced in 2012. For details, visit silentmentor.org.