• Tan Elise

A tribute to all Fathers

Especially to mine, for all your sacrifices for my sister and I. Happy Father's Day!

I dedicate this post to my father because I wouldn't be the person I am or where I am without him. My father isn't perfect and I guess, is deeply misunderstood all the time as well, because of his temper and what I would say, eccentric personality. Growing up, to be honest, I do have a 'love-hate' relationship with him, as he is so wise and inspired me so much, yet I was also psychologically affected by some of the things he did. Nevertheless, I'm grateful and thank my father for the sacrifices he chose to make for us. He made hard decisions, often putting us before himself, so that we may have better opportunities in life compared to him and that we may break out of the poverty cycle we might otherwise be trapped in.

My father chose to do a shift work job at the airport as a ground crew but sacrificed his hearing and his own sleep

My father only completed primary school education because his parents have 10 children and they simply could not afford his education. He qualified for Chinese High School but he didn't have the chance to study. He started working at a very young age, to help supplement their family income and often had to stay with his relatives who were more well off.

According to my father, he tried over 30 jobs, ranging from painting to other odd jobs, before he finally settled in his job in airport ground handling services when I was born. He chose this job because it earned him the highest income and enabled him to provide enough for our family. For the next twenty years, he did the same thing, but his hearing suffered as a result, because his work environment was extremely noisy. The extent of his hearing damage was quite profound as he had to undergo two ear drum operations.

Although he worked at the Changi Airport, he traveled almost daily from where we lived, Bukit Batok or Choa Chu Kang (the west suburban area of Singapore). It was a journey that lasted nearly 2 hours each way. He would sleep on the MRT and sometimes even knocked his head against the window or wall because he fell so deeply asleep. He chose to sacrifice himself because he thought it would be good for my sister and myself to stay near our relatives. I'm grateful he did that because what I remember fondly of my childhood were memories of playing with my cousins and hanging out with my aunts and uncles.

Because of his hearing issue as well as consistent lack of sleep, my father is short-tempered and would flare up at my mother and myself quite often when I was growing up. To be honest, I grew up in fear of my father. But now that I'm grown, I would empathize with him and I'm grateful for his sacrifice.

My father spent his free time with us and coached me in ways he could so I may excel in my studies

I'm glad that despite the difficult life he led, my father did not turn to gambling, alcohol or drug abuse. In his free time, he would spend most of his time with us, bringing us out or coaching me on my school project or for my examinations. My father would coincide his leave with our examination period and make sure that the house was conducive for us (yes interestingly, he did housework like sweeping and mopping the floor daily so that we had a clean environment.)

I recalled that when I was in Primary six, there was a school-wide competition in which we need to create 3D models on styrofoam board. I can't remember what the topic was but I recalled building miniature houses using satay sticks and dried leaves that resembled kampung houses. I won the competition because the houses were intricately built (thanks to my father's good handicraft skills) and that my father taught me to build electric circuits so that my board had 'lamps', which were embedded light bulbs with switches. Thinking back, I had no idea how my father knew how to wire up the electric circuit as that was not taught in primary school.

In secondary school, I qualified to sit for 10 subjects for my O'levels examinations and I remembered vividly that my father told me he could only afford tuition fees for only one of the subjects. I had to choose between these 10 subjects and chose English, which was one of my weakest. My Chinese language was the other weak one.

Fortunately, my father took the time to teach me how to write Chinese essays well and in particular, expository essays. Though he only had primary school education, he had self-taught himself Chinese by reading newspapers daily. If I recalled correctly, my grades for my Chinese essays improved from B3 to A1 in a few months, under my father's guidance. I had no idea how he learnt how to write well or quote Chinese proverbs and idioms on his own. But I'm glad he spent the time to guide me, because I managed to score 8 distinctions. I recalled well that I was quite envious of my friend who was able to afford tuition fees for all 10 subjects.

I'm grateful for the sacrifices and the choices he made so that my sister and I might have a better chance in living a life much better than the one he led.

There were other burdens he took on upon himself, such as helping his siblings solve problems such as financial issues.

I would like to take the opportunity to celebrate Fathers who make the sacrifices like my father did so that their children can realise the fullest of their potential and live out their fullest destiny.

Thank you Dad.

Makan for Hope Festival and Join me to give low income families with children with special needs a helping hand

I'm fundraising for Fei Yue Community Services and the funds are going to deserving beneficiaries such as low-come families with children with special needs to pay for their speech and occupational therapies. I can't imagine the sacrifices the fathers of these families would need to make, to put food on the table and, to pay for the speech and occupational therapies as well.

If you are an aspiring entrepreneur (include students or professionals who are interested to join the startup/ tech industry) or already working on a startup business, join a virtual roundtable session by leading venture capital partners and seasoned startup founders and learn + network + dine + do good as well.

Find out more on www.makanforhope.org or register directly with 33% off using promocode Partner_MFH2021 on https://www.eventnook.com/org/mfh-festival-2021.

If you wish to simply donate, you may do so on https://www.giving.sg/campaigns/makanforhope2021

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