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It’s the end of the year and everyone is compiling their top 10 lists of 2022.
How do you pick a favourite story? For me, it’s like trying to pick a favourite child: They are all special.
In our daily hustle, we don’t always have time to hear about other people’s lives. And when we get to catch up on social media, we sometimes get bogged down by negativity or the latest online scandal that’s happening.
So that’s why our mission on The Pride is important. If you’re going to read something today, have it inspire you, not drag you down into the doldrums.
We tell stories of mental wellness: Not just self-help lists or how to be kind to yourself, but about real people doing real things to help others: Like secondary school teens setting up a self-help website for youths called PeacePod; or a ground-up movement that set up a free 1-to-1 counselling service for those who need mental wellness support.
We tell stories of community: Of what to do if your neighbour is a smoker? Or how Singaporeans are still finding the kampung spirit in their neighbourhoods. Or of how a couple, Shen and Sam, set up a café in Potong Pasir that has become the neighbourhood gathering point.
We tell stories of Singaporeans who fly our flag overseas: Like Randall Chong, who created Books Beyond Borders to help Nepalese children have a proper education. Or of Rudy and Bao Yan, who went to Ukraine to help those suffering the ravages of war.
We tell stories of special-needs children and adults: Of little Isaac’s special bond with his preschool teacher Huda, of Andreana’s relationship with her sister Audrey. Or of Shalom’s mission to raise awareness on special assistance dogs in Singapore, despite his own challenges.
Every one of these stories has inspired me, and I’m so glad that we got to share them with you.
Here are some of our favourite stories from The Pride team this year!
I’ve come a long way in my mental health journey.
I’ve always wondered, as I grew older, how different things would have been if I had someone in my younger days to guide me; to tell me that the thoughts in my head were not as scary as I painted it out to be, now that I know better.
Writing my article was my attempt to do so. It felt like healing for my inner child.
I think many of us deserve to give our inner child a sense of closure to our past as well.
It sounds odd, but I’d definitely recommend everyone to write a letter to themselves from time to time – it’s a lot more therapeutic than it sounds!
When I joined The Pride, I really wanted to be able to share the stories of the “invisible” people living in Singapore. Then I met Elaine and Sophie.
Elaine’s three-year-old daughter Sophie has Netherton’s syndrome – a rare debilitating skin condition that affects 1 in 200,000 babies. It leaves the sufferer with flaky and raw-looking skin that is prone to infections.
Our skin is the biggest organ in the body, and it is the first thing others notice about us. This means that people with rare skin conditions often get treated differently for their appearance.
Meeting children with rare skin conditions and hearing from their caregivers gave me a new insight into their physical, financial, and social challenges.
Despite judgment from strangers who don’t know the full story, these brave individuals persevere through their struggles for their loved ones. Meeting them taught me a lot about being compassionate and not making assumptions.
This story was particularly meaningful to me because my brother has special needs. After reading my story, my mum told me that it made her cry, but in a good way.
I hope that reading this story would help other caregivers feel less alone too!
I’m going to be greedy and add two stories to my list!
My favourite story is a piece I wrote on job-hopping and what it means to the millennial mind.
It meant a lot that I was able to share my views on normalising the new perspective of working: Work to live, not live to work.
When the pandemic forced everybody to work from home, it made everyone realise that it is possible to be productive even at home.
Our time off work should be cherished and intentional. We shouldn’t feel guilty if we do not work beyond our job scopes. Instead, we should be empowered to work smart during allocated work hours.
When quiet quitting (I honestly hate this term) became the talk of the town, it not only validated my views, it also showed that most working adults felt the same as I do. Kindness should be mandatory in every workplace culture. Life is already tough; we can work hard and be kind and compassionate at the same time.
But my real favourite story is Christine’s article on Asyiqin, who fell 16 storeys three years ago and survived.
Even more amazingly, Ash turned her suffering into something inspirational. It took five operations and more than a year of physical therapy to get her back on her feet. But today, Ash is a fitness instructor with a brave new perspective on life!
It’s an honour that Ash trusted The Pride and Christine with her story, considering that she hid the truth from those who know her for the longest time (in her Instagram highlights, she said she told most of her friends it was a motorcycle accident).
Ash is truly inspiring and brave. I love how she was so raw and real in talking to us. I hope her story will be a glimmer of hope for many who are struggling on their own mental health journey.
August this year was extra special for me when this Korean drama about a lawyer with special needs popped up on my Netflix suggestion list. It got me hooked and I wasn’t the only one!
After watching the series, I wanted to advocate about the importance for people on the spectrum to have the freedom to decide they want in their lives.
Personally, Attorney Woo is the perfect embodiment of the theory of attraction. Our moods manifest the outcomes we want in life. I loved how the series showed me how opportunities can emerge when our attitudes to life are right.
It’s all about how we manage stressors as it comes — and we can always find beauty while sailing through the storms of life. Thank you, creators of Attorney Woo, for reminding us that in everything, we should always be hopeful. Here’s to the next season!
I got to watch the Diverse Abilities Dance Collective (DADC) in action at this year’s Purple Parade. They danced an awesome choreography to a medley of pop, hip-hop, and K-pop hits and had me cheering like it was the finals of a dance competition rather than a street performance.
They were so awesome that a week after, I visited the Inner Reflections exhibition at *Scape. This photo exhibition was special for me because it featured DADC dancers who have Down syndrome.
I especially loved the symbolic 3 interwoven threads that ran throughout the exhibit, marking the extra chromosome that babies born with Down syndrome have.
The photos resounded with pride and strength from these special needs dancers; celebrating their means of expression as a way to interact with and advocate to people from all walks of life.
I was so inspired by these dancers that I got back into the dance scene; I hope to perform with the same carefree spirit as they have!
My favourite story of 2022 was on the the Purple Parade in October.
This story is something I hold close to my heart because it has many firsts for me — my first major event with SKM, my first photo essay on The Pride, my first time at Purple Parade… the list goes on!
I’ve covered other major events like National Day as a photographer so I’m used to the hustle and bustle and organised chaos that go with these occasions.
Still, it filled my heart to be able to share about an event so important and significant for so many people with special needs.
This story is something I will remember for a long time. Having the freedom to express the event in pictures did not even come close to how I really felt at the event that day – you should attend next year’s Purple Parade in person!
My favourite article is one that I wrote on Melvin Ong in October.
His story was not only shocking, but inspiring. I went through so many emotions meeting him and writing this story; I’ve never experienced something quite so viscerally before.
We’ve all read stories of rags to riches; of people who hit rock bottom and recover. This doesn’t apply to Melvin – his story is one of tragedy upon tragedy. Yet, he has found more peace than most people I know.
He may not live to see his 30s, yet he feels as though he has already lived the fullest life.
In our interview, he admitted to me that he wasn’t the best son, brother or partner throughout his life. He spent a chunk of his life hiding from his problems and he still regrets much of it. He was filled with anxiety and rage towards himself and the world.
And yet, he has taken everything, and chosen to let it go.
In the face of death, Melvin had to learn to accept the things he couldn’t change.
There is something admirable about being able to come to terms with the harsh realities of our world, giving in to the plans of the universe but not giving up on trying to live his best life.
His life is so compelling that after my article came out on The Pride, other media outlets also picked up his story.
Meeting Melvin and telling his story changed me. I hope those who read about his defiant courage in the face of death would be just as affected as I was.
Singapore is only 700 sq km, yet home to over 5.7 million people. It is the second most densely populated country on the planet – ranking only behind Monaco, which has a mere 40,000 citizens in comparison.
With very little space for wildlife, our nature parks are home to many species. Bringing them to life through photographs is impressive. Finding these shots in urban Singapore is even more amazing.
That’s why my favourite story on the Pride this year has to be the feature we did on acclaimed local natural photographer and videographer Jayaprakash Joghee Bojan.
Watching high quality nature programs can uplift people’s moods, reduce negative emotions, and help alleviate the boredom associated with being isolated indoors.
I hope reading about and watching Jaya’s amazing wildlife shots bring positivity to Singaporeans. It certainly did for me.
Choosing a favourite article is difficult, especially when each one has given me the chance to share stories of people from different walks of life. So I’m going to be greedy and say that my favourite story of the year is a video series — Everyday Elderly!
Too often, we tend to view our seniors as just elderly folk and forget that they have lived through decades of history, accumulating captivating stories that are just waiting to be told.
Writing for this series gave me the chance to sit down with these seniors and hear about their lives and passions — and how it has led them to where they are today!
From Uncle Jeffrey, the third-generation owner of a Chinese cultural shop, to Uncle Winston, whose love for antique collection began with toy cars, to Auntie Elsie, who has tended to the same stamp collector’s shop for almost 60 years, each senior has their own fascinating insights, and it was a joy to have the chance to share them with the rest of the world!
My favourite story this year was a first-person account of the life of a foreign domestic worker in Singapore.
Too often, we take our helpers for granted. We depend on them to take care of our families so that we can live our best lives, yet we often forget that they have hopes and dreams too.
Reading about how Michelle had to give up her dreams to care for her family hit home for me. And reading it in her voice made it so much more real.
This is a story of a person who deserves to be heard, and not taken for granted.
My favourite article on The Pride this year was probably the one about the Migrant Workers, from the Portraits of the Pandemic video series that I produced and directed.
More than just telling their stories, doing the series made me feel like I got to know people from this community deeply, and they were real people — friends — more than just numbers on the news.
It brings me hope to know that in our new normal, some of our migrant friends have found community here and settled into Singapore and making it their second home.
That means we’re doing something right, and I hope we’ll continue to do so!
Other stories you might like
What about you? What’s your favourite story on The Pride this year?
Also, if you have your own story of growth to share, or an experience of kindness, whether as a giver or a receiver, share it with us. Your story may help to lift others up and inspire them to be greater!
Here’s wishing all readers a very blessed Christmas and a happy New Year. We’ll see you in 2023!