100 Fabulous People: A life with Purpose

I am both happy and grateful to be featured in the 100, many thanks to the author and publisher, Catherine Khoo! 100 Fabulous People You Must Meet In Your Lifetime is a limited edition coffee-table book. It’s also a fundraiser for cancer and 50% of the sales proceeds will be donated to Singapore Cancer Society.

What is this book about?

“It takes sunshine and rain to make life’s rainbows, doesn’t it? For these 100 Fabulous People You Must Meet In Your Lifetime, they have weathered the storm and came out stronger against the odds. They now live their life with passion and purpose. And what does passion and purpose mean to them? By reaching out to another person, to people they meet. Connecting with them – giving them friendship, and through these interactions giving them a glimmer of hope and faith that all is going to be good again! Read their story and know that, just as they have overcome the odds, so can you!” Catherine Khoo


It’s not everyday that you get a request to be part of such a project. So, when you do, you feel grateful, very grateful. And when this book began to take shape, Catherine asked me to choose a location for a photo shoot, the name that came to my mind was, Novena Church. So, our photo shoot became an opportunity for me to explore the church and I soaked in the tranquility of the place. It was early in the morning and I lingered for a long time after the shoot, thinking about the reason I was there. The book was about living life with ‘purpose and passion’. It felt surreal to be associated with these words, words so intangible that we seldom realise their presence in our lives. But probably, we have all felt them, they are the reasons we persevere, the reasons hard work feels enjoyable, the reasons we take a stand for something that seems unfair. Novena church has venetian glasses and the sunlight filtered through them gently that day. As I watched, I remembered a child I was assigned to mentor long back. She was the first one I had ever mentored, a child, abandoned and abused and one who grew up as a rebellious teen. She was moved from one foster home to another because she was not easy to handle.

One day, we sat at a food court, she with her usual plate of eggs. That day she spoke of sunshine that filtered through her mother’s hair. “It was like being in God’s place,” she had said, remembering the mother who had abandoned her. How did you feel, I asked. “Peaceful and happy,” she replied. I remembered this conversation and the child that day at the church. I remembered the years I spent meeting her, I remembered the frustration and disappointment each time she got in to trouble and I remembered feeling proud when she got her first job. I had mentored many others, but I remembered that child, who I shall call, H here. I remembered I had wanted to give up volunteering because I felt I was making no progress, but I couldn’t give up on her, I just couldn’t. I stayed on even when she got in to trouble with the police, even when we couldn’t find her, even when I realised that she might never reach out to me again. That day at the church, I sat remembering H even if I didn’t know where she was now. And then I thought, maybe that was my purpose, to walk alongside those whose names I could never mention (for confidentiality reasons), and those who I might never meet again but those who I can’t abandon even if they leave me. Maybe, I stay on because when I look back, I feel, “Peaceful and happy.”

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