by Bryan Lim on

When 55-year-old security guard Thomas Lukose collapsed on Sept 12 while on duty at Gleneagles Hospital (GEH), his family was slapped with a $78,000 bill that saw them appealing to the public for funds via GIVE.asia.

His family attempted to transfer him to the National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS) as his insurance only covered him for subsidised care but there wasn’t an available bed at the NHCS and his condition was too severe for a transfer.

So Gleneagles Hospital went ahead to treat the patient, but only $13,500 of Lukose’s $78,000 bill was covered by work insurance.

On Oct 13, Phua Tien Beng, the acting chief executive officer for the Singapore operations division of Parkway Pantai, which Gleneagles is under, wrote to The Straits Times and said: “Having reviewed the case, we have decided that the hospital should cover his outstanding medical bills. It is the right thing to do. We regret the anxiety caused.”

The family managed to raise more than $24,536.90 on GIVE.asia and have promised to donate the amount to the “next person in need”.

Swimmers help raise record amount for SAFRA’s Swim for Hope

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The divers of the Naval Diving Unit who collectively swam 15,000 laps on Sunday, Oct 22. Image source: Facebook / SAFRA

In just three days (Oct 20 to 22), 210,901 laps were swum and $155,372 was raised – the highest amount since Swim for Hope’s inception in 2011. It was an increase of more than $50,000 over last year’s $101,400.80.

An annual charity drive, Swim for Hope was held at five SAFRA clubhouses – Yishun, Mount Faber, Jurong, Toa Payoh and Tampines – and saw the participation of more than 2,000 swimmers, mostly operationally-ready national servicemen and their family.

Among them was Quah Boon Long, 54, an eye doctor who had his eye set on hitting 1,500 laps. He achieved it on Sunday (Oct 22), the last day of the charity drive.

Adjunct Associate Professor Quah, who practises at the Singapore National Eye Centre, told The Straits Times: “Being in the pool just gives me a sense of peace, relaxation and happiness. Over the last three days, knowing that every lap I swam contributed to charity motivated me to push on.”

The funds were raised through registration fees, sponsorships, sales of merchandise, general donations, donations from companies, and were also pegged to the number of laps swum. It will be distributed equally to four beneficiaries: Aquatics Heart and Hope, Singapore Disability Sports Council, Rainbow Centre Singapore and Singapore Armed Forces Care Fund.

Celebrating Deepavali with the spirit of giving

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The team of Lighting Hearts Lighting Homes waiting on the volunteers and drivers. Image source: Facebook / Lighting Hearts Lighting Homes

A grassroots initiative, Lighting Hearts Lighting Homes is an annual effort to deliver Deepavali goodies to beneficiaries across the island so they get to enjoy the festive cheer. Initially reaching out to needy Indian families when it started in 2013, the initiative now includes beneficiaries of all races, and will take place during major holidays like Hari Raya and Christmas.

This year, the team raised more than $110,000 and enlisted the help of 550 volunteers to pack, bake and distribute food and other provisions to more than 1,000 beneficiaries around the island. The distribution happened on Oct 14.

One of the volunteers, 41-year-old relationship manager Harvinderjit Singh, along with seven childhood friends, moved gift bags filled with rice, oil and other necessities into a lorry. Each bag weighed about 15kg.

A physically daunting task, but they told The Straits Times that the effort was “worth the knowledge that the bags would be on their way to more than 40 beneficiaries from the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore”.

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Delay on the tracks, but no delays when it comes to being honest

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Natthapon Asswisessiwakul (left) with Mr Faisal. Image source: Facebook / Natthapon Asswisessiwakul

Some will remember the fear, the anxiety and insecurity when we lose our wallets. And we’re Singaporeans who are familiar with the lay of the land and where to turn to for help.

Now, imagine losing your wallet in a foreign country. That’s what happened to Natthapon Asswisessiwakul, a Thai tourist who was here on a one-day business trip. In his Facebook post, he described the incident as a “nightmare” because he dropped his wallet immediately after reaching Singapore.

When all hope seemed lost, an SMRT train driver whom Asswisessiwakul identified as Mr Faisal, managed to find the former’s wallet and passed it to the staff on duty at Tanah Merah station. Asswisessiwakul concluded in his Facebook post that Faisal’s actions “make me really trust the country of Singapore” and he expressed a “million thanks” to SMRT for their “great team”.

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Bring the community spirit back – starting with 1,000 towels

As part of the South Central Community Family Service Centre’s first I Wish You Enough movement, a group of residents across Redhill, Henderson and Lengkok Bahru estates have banded together to rekindle the kampong spirit with 1,000 orange hand towels.

The aim of the movement is to encourage neighbourliness and promote a sharing and giving culture amongst the residents. Residents in the three estates have been hanging towels on the front gate of their homes since the start of October. The towels symbolise support for neighbourly acts of goodwill. Seeing these towels on their neighbours’ doors tells residents that they can approach them for help, sparking a culture of friendship and caring within the community.

Faridah Rashid, 45, who is part of the main organising committee, told The Straits Times that it is not about grand gestures, but rather, simple acts of kindness. She said: “Anyone can show their support by hanging their own towels on their doors. Our orange towels are just a spark.”

In a fitting show of the kampong spirit, residents whipped up their best home-cooked dishes for a mass potluck session at the initiative’s celebratory event held on Oct 21. The get-together also featured a family food trail and even a flash mob dance performance by the residents.

Given the firm friendships forged, one can be assured that the spirit of neighbourliness is likely to live on even after the towels have come down.