The Heart for Volunteerism

Mdm Tan Geok Lian, Joan was a client who received help on physiotherapy sessions but now, she is a volunteer with SASCO@JurongWest for 3 years. Joan has inspired many others with her story.

7 years ago Joan had experienced excruciating pain in her joints that she can’t stretch her arms nor do basic chores such as changing her clothes. She turned into her friends and was recommended to buy calcium, collagen and all sorts of pills and also did acupuncture, bloodletting, cupping therapy which had caused her skin to be scalded. She recounted that she had been naive and had spent around $300 per months buying pills and remedies that did not help.

She then decided that she had to seek proper treatment at the hospital when she realized that she couldn’t get up. It was then she discovered that she had suffered from Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition that cause the immune system to attack the joints of a healthy adult. Recuperation took 1 year, which was an arduous process that put Joan into depression. During the days when she was wheelchair bound, she was affected by her neighbours’ impression of her and had suffered from low self-esteem and lack of socializing skills. She promised herself that she will have to get up and throw the wheelchair away.

Joan had started her physiotherapy sessions, shifting from a walking frame, to a walking stick. She told herself that she had to listen to what the physiotherapist advised her to do and not be dejected by the slight improvements that she had made. With the significant help from the physiotherapist and the undying support from her 2 children, she was able to walk again. Joan wanted to volunteer with SASCO @Jurong West to share her difficult experience with the current clients who had became immobile due to stroke and other diseases and to motivate them there is always a chance that they can walk again through a healthy diet, adequate exercise and pure determination. Her volunteering days started from simple tasks such as wiping the table and befriending the clients but now she is able to take up more roles such as pushing the wheelchair clients at outings.

Joan has a philosophy she carries with her until now. ‘Learn to let go and not dwell on things that had happened.’