Amid the flood of online complaints about the woes of ride sharing, road rage, or public shaming, that pop up on our news feed on the regular, it’s refreshing to see heartwarming stories being shared.
So, when Facebook user Alvin Leong posted a shout-out to rally support for a Chinatown Complex stallholder, it quickly went viral, sending out ripples of good vibes that continue to reverberate today.
In his post, which received some 12,000 shares on Facebook, Leong said that the stallholder is one Mr Yoong, who sells bath and hand towels, floor mats, and handkerchiefs to support his twin sisters, both of whom have muscular dystrophy and are unable to care for themselves.
One of the sisters currently resides in charity nursing home Cheshire Home, while the other lives with Mr Yoong in a flat above the complex.
The 55-year-old is the sole breadwinner and has been operating the stall alone since his parents passed away.
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As Chinatown Complex is scheduled to be closed for renovation works from March to May this year, Leong explained that it will be tough for Mr Yoong and his sisters to survive without a source of income for three months.
Since news of his situation broke, people have turned up in droves to show their support, often leaving his stall laden with bags.
When I stopped by Mr Yoong’s stall last Sunday, it was virtually empty, save for a few unsold items that would no doubt be picked up in no time by the long line of well-wishers. Some left without finding anything to buy, but not before extending a hand to Mr Yoong and giving him heartfelt words of encouragement.
The quiet and soft-spoken stallholder said that he was extremely surprised by the overwhelming support and kindness of strangers.
“I never expected my story to go viral. It’s part and parcel of life to look after your family, and I’ve done so for over a decade now. No matter how tough or easy life is, it goes on,” he said.
Adding firmly that he doesn’t wish for public sympathy or donations, Mr Yoong went on to express his gratitude and appreciation for everyone who has come by, and said that he wants to carry on his livelihood as per normal.
Shooing me politely away with a smile, Mr Yoong then asked if I could try not to make a big deal about him in my story, insisting that all he has done for his sisters is just a matter of brotherly responsibility.
I replied that I couldn’t make such a promise because if it’s one thing his story and the virality of it has shown me, it’s that despite how easy it is to feel jaded by so much negativity on social media and dismiss it as a modern evil, it can also be used as a force for good.
If it weren’t for Alvin’s viral post on Facebook, I wouldn’t have come to know of Mr Yoong’s situation, and neither would the scores of kind-hearted people who’ve stepped up to help at first notice.
So, I’m really sorry, Mr Yoong – But as I’ve seen how social media can also do wonders to encourage kindness and compassion in us all, I’m putting out this piece about you now and hoping that it joins the ranks of feel-good stories that ought to be a more common sight on social media today.
PS: If you’re planning on doing some spring cleaning this weekend for Lunar New Year, Mr Yoong has just restocked his towels this morning!