[Featured] People of ASEAN series is a segment where we introduce members of our diverse ASEAN community with their unique stories, perspectives, and most importantly their aspirations.
- Please introduce yourself (your start-ups, the signature programmes that you participated, etc) and share your passion
I am the founder of the ground up movement, Be Kind SG, to inspire acts of kindness via micro-volunteering and raise the visibility of our ‘less visible’ communities, such as adults with special needs. My passion is to create awareness of how individuals can contribute in different ways to a kinder and happier society.
20 years ago, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, vasculitis, and this had caused devastating consequences to my health and life journey. In 2013, I started a support group for people diagnosed with autoimmune diseases in Singapore. My hope is for the group to share our knowledge, support each other along our journey, and raise awareness of autoimmune diseases to the general public.
My idea would be to start caregiving educational hubs in various parts of Singapore for parents with children with special needs.
– Sherry soon
In 2010, I was a youth ambassador of the 37th Ship for the Southeast Asian and Japanese Youth Programme (SSEAYP). In 2016, I volunteered with Peace Boat as a Communication Coordinator and traveled around the Southern Hemisphere for 4 months, visiting places like Antarctica and Easter Island. In 2017, I participated in the Arts for Good Fellowship Programme with the Singapore International Foundation and am currently a Citizen Ambassador with them. In 2018, I was selected to participate in the AMEX Leadership Academy. I am an Obama Foundation Leader and was selected to participate in the Obama Foundation Leader: the Asia Pacific convening in 2019. In 2019, I was a Singapore Silent Heroes nominee and am now on the nominations and outreach committee for SSH 2020.
- What are the challenges you face as you go about pursuing your passion and what drives you to overcome them?
Some of the challenges for both Be Kind SG and Autoimmune Diseases Singapore are the lack of consistent funding and dedicated volunteers who are equally passionate about the cause and willing to step up. This makes it hard to scale up our activities.
My purpose in life is to make a positive impact with my actions and contribute to a kinder society. Through my suffering from an ‘invisible’ medical condition, I can empathize with others with their untold stories and struggles. I hope in my own small way to do my best to support these ‘invisible’ communities.
- What does ASEAN mean to you and would you like to share your aspirations for ASEAN?
ASEAN to me means friends. Through SSEAYP, I have made many ASEAN friends and will not forget their hospitality and friendship. My aspiration for ASEAN is for the youth of the countries to cultivate relationships and rapport with each other, to minimize misunderstandings and miscommunications due to cultural sensitivities. On a broader level, I hope that ASEAN countries can share their knowledge with each other, especially in terms of medical knowledge, so that we can aim for more equitable healthcare systems.
- If you were to present an idea at Shark Tank for donors/investors to pump in their resources, what would be that? Why?
My idea would be to start caregiving educational hubs in various parts of Singapore for parents with children with special needs. These parents face heavy financial burden and psychological stress as they embark on their journey to be caregivers. The hub will consist of resource libraries where parents can borrow store-bought toys, manipulatives, social stories, board games to improve social behaviour, and handmade resources by other parents. This will help to relieve part of the caregivers’ financial burden as they do not need to keep buying new resources for their children.
The hub will also hold educational workshops on special needs resources and community building events for caregivers. Eventually, I hope to expand this idea to other countries in the ASEAN region.
- Any words of advice for youth who want to make a difference in the world?
Walk the talk. You can start with small actions by volunteering with various non-profit organizations or community groups. Participate in youth programmes to broaden your horizon and expand your network.