choosing to serve while being served

Mr Liew Kee Siang (left) having a conversation with Mdm Koh Guat Kwee (right)

Serving while being served, Mdm Koh Guat Kwee is both a senior and a volunteer. At age 69, Mdm Koh has been an active participant of the Lions Befrienders (LB) Active Ageing Centre (AAC) at Ang Mo Kio for almost a decade. She also serves as a volunteer for her neighbourhood in the same block. “Even 24 hours a day is not enough for my use”, lamented Mdm Koh, who runs errands and delivers ration meals to her fellow seniors daily.

With a chatty, vibrant, and exuberant personality, Mdm Koh easily makes friends and mingles with others. Often the life of the party, she brings joy and laughter everywhere she goes. Being cared for and supported by the staff and volunteers have touched Mdm Koh’s heart and spurred her towards reaching out to other seniors. Seeing her potential and heart for others, LB’s staff encouraged her to step up as a volunteer in 2017.

Serving seniors from three rental blocks, Mdm Koh would pick up the rations from the centre and deliver it to those with mobility issues. Being only a call away, some seniors would seek her help to run errands, get medications and necessities. She also organises small gatherings at the void deck to keep the seniors socially engaged.

As Mdm Koh checks on the seniors regularly, she noticed once that a senior did not pick up the food hanging outside her gate. Sensing that something was awry, she immediately dialed for help, and they found that the senior had fallen in her home. The senior was without food and water for three days, and was grateful to Mdm Koh for saving her in the nick of time. Mdm Koh also recalled another time when she called the ambulance for a senior cum good friend who had difficulty getting up from bed. The senior was hospitalised for three weeks before passing away. During the grieving period, tears would well up Mdm Koh’s eyes when thoughts of the friend came to mind. As an older person, it is inevitable yet heart-wrenching to watch your peers pass away one after another. For Mdm Koh, it is a sobering reminder and an affirmation of the importance of checking on the seniors and ensuring that help is provided whenever needed.  

A senior from the LB AAC at Ang Mo Kio and a resident of the block, the healthy and active Mr Liew Kee Siang is great friends with Mdm Koh. “Life is more meaningful when you have friends whom you can talk to and share life with”, said Mr Liew. The pair have been neighbors for over 20 years, and they always keep a look out for each other.   

Despite being a senior herself, Mdm Koh is willing to go the extra mile to care for other seniors in need. She believes that so long as she is healthy and able, she can lend a helping hand. Being on the ground allows her to be aware of the needs of seniors and offer the help and support needed. Igniting the kampung spirit in her neighbourhood, Mdm Koh’s acts of kindness play a vital role in building a loving and caring community.  

We hope that these stories would inspire you to reach out and touch the lives of others.

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