Sunday, 9 December 2018

Jaycie Tay and John Shu - the Good Samaritans.

I have written this before. It's the story of the quiet Samaritans in Singapore. But here's the sequel to it. 

Jaycie Tay, 33, achieved what she had set out to do in the first place: a bachelor's degree (2:1) from University College Dublin, thru Kaplan Higher Education Institute. 

The road is long and tough for Jaycie with four kids in tow and two marriages that did not work out, all happening in her twenties. 

She admitted: "Given my background, I never thought I will be a degree holder. It's a dream come true."

But dreams don't come true just like that. Jaycie knew that turning dreams to reality is not a solo effort. 

Here's just a brief background.

Jaycie was introduced to drugs in her teenage years. She was sent for drug rehab at 18. She gave birth at 20. She quit her habit after the birth of her first child. 

But when her marriage collapsed, she returned to the habit to escape from the pain. Then, she met her second husband who was a drug addict too. They were arrested in 2012. 

Altogether, from the two marriages, Jaycie has four children. Two of them are with the first husband, and she takes care of the other two from the second marriage. 

Theresa Tan, the senior social affairs correspondent, wrote that: "during her second stint at the DRC, she resolved to turn her life around. She saw how other addicts lost everything they had - from material possessions to loved ones...She did not want that to happen to her."

With that resolve, that awakening however small at a time when she had nothing, Jaycie met John Shu in 2013 at a chance encounter in a bus stop. Perfect strangers and they chatted. 

John was a mechanic earning about $2k a month. Without hesitation, he gave her $6k from his savings to pay for her diploma in marketing management. 

At that time, John only had primary school education and Jaycie was a secondary two school leaver. 

Jaycie said: "I'm very thankful to John, who first gave me hope and helped me see the light."

After that, Jaycie also received a bursary from Yellow Ribbon Fund Star valued at over $20k.

Theresa reported that "after obtaining her diploma, she devoted her energy to getting a part-time degree, while juggling work and motherhood. Finding a place to live was also a problem - she and her children lived with a friend until she obtained a one-room rental flat from the Housing Board earlier this year."

In 2016, the story of John's generosity not only got him nominated finalist for The Straits Time's Singaporean of the Year, his deed also touched Jaycie's school Kaplan so much that they went on to sponsor John's daughter's poly and tertiary education. 

It was indeed a chain reaction of kindness sowed by one random act of kindness between strangers. 

Jaycie now "cherishes her new lease of life" and "dreams of a brighter future for her family."

She said: "Don't give up, there's always hope in life."

Lesson? Let's face it, this story does not happen to everyone. 

I recently spoke to an inmate who is pregnant with her tenth child and she is in her late thirties. Divorcee too, in for drug, has been on drugs for the longest time, and her background is highly complex. 

Some face tremendous odds and their circumstances are a great challenge to overcome. They are expectedly jaded and weary of how life has dealt a tough hand on them.

In the end, it is all the same: we are looking for enduring hope, someone to believe in us, a quiet and assuring presence that resonates, an act of spontaneous generosity and a timely shoulder to cry on. 

And Jaycie's struggles are a culmination of all those little things that come together at the right place and at the right time as fortuitous nudges that sets her trajectory advancing one small step at a time towards a brighter future. 

I draw strength from this story because story like that is easy to pen but what we do not see is the huge iceberg that lies beneath the water. 

Her daily struggles are real and what we see today, her milestones and successes, only come to her through sheer resolve and perseverance for herself and her children. 

I would like to think that she has moved beyond tears and fears to strength and hope, and from despair to resilience as life opens doors for her. Yet, the road ahead for her is still a long and challenging one.

I would also like to end by drawing strength too from people like John in Jaycie's life, and many anonymous people out there - as parents, friends and strangers - making their own differences in the lives of those they touch - be it for a moment, a season or a lifetime. 

I recall when people were crying everywhere during the terrorist attack of the World Trade Center (911), feeling lost and in total despair, one of those rescued reminded them to take their eyes off the carnage and look at the rescuers. Look at what they are doing and draw hope from their selfless acts. 

It is the same here: look at the actions of people like John and those who offer their lives for others, giving and sharing, instead of those taking and exploiting. 

Look at the acts of good Samaritans, let their stories inspire and rejuvenate us. 

Like fresh-water springs to our tired hearts, the rescuers, in their consistent and selfless ways, will set us reflecting on what truly matters in life. 

It will set us on points of inflection that would make for a kinder society, one that is not perfect but is perfecting, transforming and redeeming. Cheerz.

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