MR TAN LAI HOCK (LEFT), TAXI DRIVER
"I often see patients coming alone for their appointments because their caregivers are too busy to accompany them. It is selfless of Mr Tan to sacrifice his time and income to help Mr Lim. I was overwhelmed by his kindness towards a fellow human being."
— Lakshmanasamudram S Mohanram, Ophthalmic Investigation Specialist, Singapore National Eye Centre
I have been a taxi driver for five years and 85-year-old Mr Lim Chong Khim is my regular passenger.
We met three years ago when he called for a taxi and I picked up his booking. When we reached his destination, he asked if I could wait for him to finish his errand and send him home. I agreed because I was not in a hurry and sympathised with him as he had difficulties walking.
On the ride back, Mr Lim shared that he lives alone in his rental flat, and asked if I could assist him on his regular errands and ferry him to his medical appointments. I thought about it and agreed.
From then on, Mr Lim would call me whenever he needs help. I know his routine well by now. About once or twice a month, I will accompany him to the bank, to get a haircut and to buy groceries. Each trip can take up to three to four hours because Mr Lim is not able to move quickly due to osteoarthritis. I have asked him to get a wheelchair which he had declined many times.
Whenever Mr Lim has a medical appointment, I will accompany him as well. After driving him there, I wait with him in the clinic till we have collected his medications. Each medical appointment can take up to four or five hours. I will also help him with translations as he only speaks Mandarin and Hokkien, and has trouble communicating with the nurses or doctors.
Mr Lim does not share much about himself or his life, but I have come to understand his needs. Sometimes, when he has special requests such as cravings for fried Hong Kong noodles, Tiong Bahru Pau or fried carrot cake, he will call me to ask if I could buy them for him. Every Lunar New Year, he will want a carton of Mandarin oranges, as well as a specific brand of chocolates which is not easily available.
Today, I am happy that Mr Lim has accepted the offer to get a wheelchair. With the wheelchair, it is much easier for me to fetch and bring Mr Lim around for his monthly errands.
My philosophy in life is very simple: I believe that kindness begets kindness, so we should try to do good while we can. I do not think that what I do for Mr Lim is extraordinary. However, Mr Lim once said to me: “I’m very lucky to have met you.”
The annual Singapore Health Inspirational Patient and Caregiver Awards honour individuals for their strength, courage and resilience in the face of health challenges, as well as outstanding patient support groups that have provided invaluable support to patients and caregivers.
Each year, our winners continue to inspire us with their ability to overcome adversity. Their experiences provide valuable learning for the doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and other healthcare workers.
This year, SingHealth recognises 27 winners who, amid the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, continue to motivate healthcare professionals to deliver better care and inspire many others with their zest for life. Read their inspiring stories
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