Many of our neighbours were poorer, and we could see how fortunate we were — although compared to other families, we could have been considered deprived too! While my parents could have cooked enough for ourselves and kept any leftovers for our next meal, they would often share with our neighbours. What my neighbours had most times was a bowl of porridge with black sauce. We shared food to go with that — extra vegetables my mother fried, and on festive occasions, black sauce duck, curry chicken, or ngoh hiang (a Chinese sausage) which my mom prepared.
I was very touched when my neighbours, expressed gratitude and appreciation towards my parents’ generosity. This was reinforced in 1973 when I was 23 and got involved in a gotong royong project with my university to clean up Kampung Geylang Serai. I was turned off by the filth and the stench, but that was quickly overcome by the overflowing warmth and immense gratitude of the kampung folk for our efforts. It was a feeling money cannot buy. Such simple acts, given from the heart without expecting anything in return, have very much shaped my outlook on service and charity.
I do not limit giving to money, or sharing food or things. It is also important to give time. This can translate into a lot of things that you can do, that you create and share — like expertise, knowledge and experience, which I have shared since I got involved in public and community service more than 20 years ago. I also spend time fundraising so that causes can be promoted and perpetuated. The act of giving starts with kindness and grace. These priceless human gifts cost little, yet can bring immense joy.”
— Lim Soon Hock, Chairman of National Family Council, Centre for Fathering, and President’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Award 2012 recipient