Even though I had to spend Christmas without the presence of my late wife for the third year running, I was not alone when a handful of Good Samaritans rallied around me and brought me for meals and presented me with gifts. They all made my Christmas so special, so meaningful.
Some of them read of my loneliness through my press articles and were deeply moved, while others felt it necessary to give from the heart, which is the true meaning of Christmas. They all fully understand that recreation is so important for those who are lonely.
There was Raymond Ong who treated me to a lovely lunch at the Singapore Recreation Club, while Lawrence Quek and his wife Grace Goh brought me for a pre-Christmas dinner at an upbeat restaurant in Somerset Road. Playing with their lovable kids was such fun as I adore children. Jolene and husband Aaron treated me to a pre-Christmas breakfast before they went on a holiday.
On Boxing Day, Michael Png and some of his friends brought pastries and sang Christmas carols in my home. My youngest brother Terrence makes it an annual tradition to give me some cash during the yuletide season.
At the opening of the new year in January, I can look forward to an invitation to have a meal of my choice at a café run by a European lady who recently became my friend on Facebook. Such Good Samaritans can so easily make Singapore achieve its goal of being a caring, gracious, compassionate and inclusive society.
Reaching out to the needy lifts the human spirit. Even though there will always be people who prey on individuals’ prosperity and kindness to get money through unethical means, it should not in any way discourage us from helping the needy. This was so well expressed by reader Miss Lee Kay Yan in her letter” (“Don’t let fear of scams stop us from helping others”, The Straits Times, Dec 24, 2016).
In opening our hearts, we need to distinguish between those who are in genuine need of financial assistance and those who seize the opportunity to make a quick buck. The less fortunate in our society should not feel ashamed to reveal their heart-wrenching stories and seek help as there will always be kind-hearted people who will be moved by those who live in the shadows of life. The media has been doing an excellent job in raising awareness of the marginalised in our society, and through this medium, many are getting the help they so badly need – and that includes having a decent meal.
There are thousands of people all over the world who go through hardships and sufferings, yet accept it as part and parcel of life. Take for instance in the Philippines, where typhoons continue to damage homes and wreak havoc to the Filipinos leaving many of us to wonder how they were going to have a Merry Christmas (“Strong typhoon Nock-Ten is set to hit Philippines on Christmas Day”, The Straits Times, Dec 23, 2016) We can all do a little to give back to society – pay it forward, so to speak. For my part, someday when the opportunity arises, I would love to go and teach English to children of poor families in the Philippines because having a good education is necessary to build a strong foundation in life.
The Buddhists believe that the greatest gift that can be given to humanity is when we share our true stories and give good advice and support to help others.
RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO
PROFILE OF THE WRITER
Raymond Anthony Fernando is a motivational speaker, poet, author, trainer, songwriter, freelance television actor, ghostwriter, media celebrity, regular newspaper forum page writer and an advocate for the mentally ill.
He is a volunteer with the Institute of Mental Health. The author of 32 books was married to Doris Lau Siew Lang, herself an author of 8 books. Doris was called to the Lord in April 2014. This Model Caregiver 2007 and Mental Health Champion 2010, who is born on Valentine’s Day, has contributed 31 years of service to the public sector, 15 years of experience in public relations work, and received several awards and commendations from government organisations.
Raymond attributes his success to his beloved wife, Doris, who has always been his greatest inspiration.