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"Precious Gems 34"- Our Heroic Gems
08 March 2019

Thanks to our eager and energetic volunteers and staff, our patients and their families had a memorable day at our Family Foto Fair!

Last Saturday afternoon, many had gathered at our new office premise at the Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital grounds, to host our nearly 30 patients and more than 100 of their family members to our biannual Family Foto Fair or FFF as we call it for short. Besides our staff, many volunteers from several corporations, tertiary institutions and individual contributors were raring to go. From a private running group, seven individuals came as “Everyday Heroes”, our theme for the FFF. Superman, Incredible Hulk, Black Panther, Deadpool and even Maleficent were present. Our usual fun-loving Caring Clowns were there too.

The first families arrived and were shuttled by their assigned volunteer, to the makeup area at the day hospice. Our professional volunteer hairstylists and makeup artists bustled with their curling tongs, hairdryers, eyebrow pencils and lipsticks, ready to give our families a beautiful makeover, to make them look their best for that glamour shot of themselves as a family. 

Next stop for the families was at the gardens on the ground level. For this outdoor photography, they could choose to be photographed at the pavilion or under the Flame of the Forest tree planted by our late Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew. As soon as every family completed their outdoor photography, their assigned volunteer brought them indoor onto the second floor where they would have their family portraits taken in a studio like setting. I noted that most families chose to be photographed with the superheroes as a fun shot. Our Starpals families also joined in the fun, with one young family including their family poodle in the family portrait.

While waiting their turn, families with young children could participate in the many games stalls prepared by our volunteers. There was balloon sculpting, cookie decoration, mask designing, shooting the ping pong and tossing the paper cups, just to name a few. Many patients happily took part despite their physical conditions. There was an old uncle, probably in his late 80s or early 90s, who asked to be pushed in his wheelchair from stall to stall. He tried his skills at every game and he was pretty good at them. Each time he scored, he grinned widely to the cheers of his family, our nurses and the students who were operating the stalls. Another elderly patient took part in a ping pong race with three of his grown-up sons, while his granddaughter looked on. The two teams, one made up of our patient and his son, the other team made up of his two other sons, had to balance a ping pong on a plastic spoon and race each other for about five metres around a chair and back. Some of us were worried as our patient had a heart problem and should not walk too fast, lest he started gasping. He won the race as the other team dropped the ping pong at the changeover point. He was smiling from ear to ear, with his granddaughter cheering wildly for grandpa. Everyone could collect prizes after completing six games. 

The atmosphere was carnival-like. A talented musician volunteer, played his electronic saxophone for the families who were relaxing over lunch and snacks.  Beside them, Black Panther and a caring clown danced gamely to the jazzy tunes.

The assigned volunteers to each patient ensured that the families received a beautifully framed 8R family portrait, together with a thumbdrive full of their photos for the day. Every family was escorted to the transport that was to take them home.

When I asked one family how it was for them, this was the patient’s reply, “Thank you very much for organising this. Without you, we would never have this family portrait together. We will put this picture in our living room for everyone to see. Got photo, got food, got drinks and got fun! Thank you!”

We have our ever willing volunteers, our passionate staff to thank, for making this event so successful.