The “Extraordinaire Caregivers” of Singapore

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Acts of compassion happen all over the world, and Singapore is no exception. However, what makes Mr. David Lang, Ms. Janet Koh, and Ms. Naina Shah recipients of the Extraordinaire Caregivers Award is that they have cared for their respective beneficiaries with great personal self-sacrifice-be it time, money or effort- they have willingly embraced and shouldered the burden.

Mr. David Lang has cared for his 3 special-needs children for almost 30 years. Suffering from Niemann-Pick disease type C, his children are paralyzed and require intensive care as their cognitive and physical functions have degenerated. Bedridden, tube-fed and breathing through tracheotomy tubes, taking care of them is a perpetual job. Mr. Lang, luckily, receives help from his wife and 2 caregivers. Furthermore, $7000-$10000 is needed per month for their care. Despite the obvious challenges, Mr. Lang unwaveringly presses on. “Life is valuable. It’s a gift from God,” he said. “I feel joyful as long as I can see them smile.”

Ms. Janet Koh gave up her rice bowl and quit her 30-year tenure as a secretary to care full-time for her mother, Madam Ng Sook Cheng. This is because Madam Ng was uncomfortable with being cared for by a domestic helper, and Ms. Koh, being the filial daughter she is, acceded to her request. Furthermore, she is the only one out of her siblings that is single and as such, decided to assume the mantle of being her mother’s primary caregiver. Madam Ng has benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, making her prone to dizziness, fainting, and falls. Furthermore, she is confined to a wheelchair and has dementia, making caring for her as an untrained caregiver a rather monumental task. However, Ms. Koh has tackled the task valiantly, attending over 30 caregiver workshops over 3 years. Ms. Koh says:” Caregiving can be very rewarding. I’m learning new skills and starting a relationship with her – she seems like a new person – all over again.”

Ms. Naina Shah, 61, is a caregiver to her elderly parents. She retired from her small business in 2015 to care for her bed-ridden father who suffered from cancer, heart disease, and stroke. After his passing in 2017, Ms. Shah has continued caring for her mother who has asthma, high blood pressure, and knee issues. “As parents, they have done so much for us. Now, it’s our duty as children to do it.”

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