By Charmin Nahar
Chua Weicong hasn’t had an easy life.
His dad, the sole breadwinner of the family, passed away when he was 14, leaving Wei Cong’s mum to try to make ends meet.
With her being busy all the time and unable to spend much time with them, he and his older brother had to survive on their own from a young age.
Weicong has another challenge that he had to deal with growing up. He has ADHD.
But today, the 27-year-old hasn’t let his difficult childhood hold him back from his passion to help people. In fact, the tough times have given him a soft heart to help children from needy families or special-needs kids who, like him, are struggling with conditions like ADHD and autism.
“I understand their situation,” he tells The Pride, “when I was young, I went through a similar experience, having people looking down on you because you’re different.”
“Since I was young, I have struggled with ADHD and my family background wasn’t easy.”
After his dad died, Weicong says that he struggled with his identity and values. He was also bullied at school because he was different.
He admits that this led him to hanging out with “the wrong crowd”.
But something happened that turned things around.
Depressed and struggling with self-identity, Weicong was invited to a friend’s house. His friend’s parents welcomed him with open affection — with a hug and a kiss.
“I felt love I’ve never received before. And I knew that many youths (like me) would not have felt that kind of love before.”
That inspired him to do something about it — to pay forward this kindness to others.
Later, Wei Cong discovered his passion for helping children when he watched a documentary on human trafficking and went to India to find out more. There, he saw children undergoing all kinds of suffering and was shocked when he was told by his guide that half these underprivileged kids won’t survive into adulthood.
To his surprise, even in their difficult surroundings, the kids were happy and full of hopes and dreams. He tells The Pride: “One of the kids even told me that he wanted to be a reporter.”
His volunteer journey
Back in Singapore, Weicong, who works as an executive caregiver at a daycare home for seniors, started volunteering with Singapore Prison Fellowship in 2017.
A friend had told him they needed some volunteers to work with children from low-income families or who have parents who have been incarcerated. Some of these children have special needs as well.
He wanted to help these children as there was a worry that without proper parental guidance, they might go down the wrong path in life.
To his pleasant surprise, Weicong discovered that he got along well with the children and even went the extra mile to create activities to build relationships with them.
With his bond with them, he could also take on the role of a disciplinarian because he could be stern and make sure that even with ADHD, these children would complete their activities properly.
He says: “With the kids, I feel like I understand them.”
Weicong’s similar background with the children has also allowed him to open up and share with them how he got through his difficult times.
He adds modestly: “I tell the youths to hold on a bit longer and to see the things around you. Every life has a purpose and meaning. People get sucked into the negative that they don’t even see the beauty in life”
Weicong believes that kindness is a two-way street. He recounts how when he was younger, he never really felt a connection with those who came with an attitude of how they were there to teach him something that he needed to know.
Instead, he said the ones who really connected with him are those who came and said, “okay, let’s learn something together.”
Weicong recounts how many of his teachers would keep telling him what he was doing wrong, but the teacher who changed his life told him, “I also had a problem with reading when I was a kid. I had the same problem as you have.”
And that approach really opened his heart. That is why he is still looking to learn something from the children that he mentors.
“Sharing someone’s pain, sharing that journey, can be a really beautiful thing,” he says.
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A simple act goes a long way
Weicong’s volunteer work has also made him a more empathetic person.
He recounts how one of his kids was being difficult and Weicong started to judge him based on his actions. But later, he noticed how that boy quietly helped a senior with a task. “I learnt to be more patient and not judge people too quickly.”
Another time, he got bothered by an uncle “who was blasting music on his radio”. Instead of showing his annoyance, Weicong complimented the uncle on how good his music sounded and before they knew it, “they were dancing in the lift”, he laughs.
That act of kindness helped him realise that it is possible to make a difference in someone’s life with a simple gesture.
He explains: “Doing something good does not have to be big, it can be simple. Small things like saying hi can really change someone’s day. It makes a huge difference.”
“I think when you help people, it brings you back to your humanity. It brings you back to (asking yourself) ‘what are you here for?’”
“Kindness to me is not about recognition, it is not about achievement. It’s like breathing air. It should be part of our lifestyle every day.”