Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Education helped brilliant self-taught Malawian the ability to build a windmill from junk and brings power to his village




Challenge with all your might, think ‘out of the box’ and never stop learning. These positive traits have earned praises for Malawian teenager William Kamkwamba who has discovered that education is foundational!

Kamkwamba was a simple farmer who had not seen a computer nor certainly not many white people in his life. But that did not prevent him from pushing boundaries, reaching for the stars – to create his inventions that has made lives better for the people in his village. 

Yet his brilliant inventions were blacked out by the media. Why?   Many of us, awed by Kamkwamba’s creativity and sheer brilliance were stunned that the media had bot accorded due recognition to this young man.  

 

Bouquets to Ted Talks and Video for airing his story as more and more people who believe in Kamkwamba;s creations have started posting his story.

A little background into this young lad. 

Due to severe famine in 2001, Kamkwamba’s family were so poor that they could not afford to fork out the $80 in annual school fees   That resulted in the teen being forced to drop out of school a few months into his freshman year. For five years he was unable to go to school.

Starting at 14, rather than accept his fate, William started borrowing books from a small community lending library located at his former primary school. He borrowed an 8th-grade American textbook, “Using Energy: which depicted wind turbines on its cover.

He decided to build a windmill to power his family’s home and obviate the need for kerosene, which provided only smoky, flickering, distant and expensive light after dark.

First, he built a prototype using a radio motor, then his initial 5-meter windmill out of a broken bicycle, tractor fan blade, old shock absorber, and blue gum trees. After hooking the windmill to a car battery for storage, William was able to power four light bulbs and charge neighbors’ mobile phones. This system was even equipped with homemade light switches and a circuit breaker made from nails, wire, and magnets. The windmill was later extended to 12 meters to better catch the wind above the trees. A third windmill pumped greywater for irrigation.

It's puzzling that the media has chosen not to publish his story which can so easily inspire those who despite being poor adopt a never-say-die attitude and are prepared to study and beat the odds.

Due to its large outreach, the media can so easily sway people’s thinking and therefore it must highlight powerful stories that can transform lives.  Bear in mind that its IDEAS and PEOPLE that can make a far better world.  You don’t need a string of degrees to shine and what society needs are active citizens who are able to drum up ideas or solutions to solve social problems.

Ideas that can help change lives must never be thrown into the back burner

Like Kamkwamba, I too face challenges over the last year or two with the local mainstream media. 

Asa a social activist who is very much in touch with the ground and one who focusses on finding solutions to growing problems, I often come up with creative solutions that can improve the lives of my countrymen here in Singapore. 

At the end of September 2019, I wrote a letter to a local newspaper proposing a ride-on solution to the government grant of $200 a month to family caregivers.

Open Public Suggestion to the Singapore Government:  Caregiver leave can help family caregivers a great deal

 

The salient points raised by the writer Dr Kalyani Kirtikar Mehta are valid concerns which our caregivers face in helping their loved ones cope better (Policies must proactively support caregivers, September 28, 2019. The Straits Times).

Caregiving is taxing and a costly affair as most of these caregivers pay a heavy price: Physically, mentally and financially. 

As caregiving is often a 24-hour task, many caregivers have to end of giving up their full-time jobs.  

 

Therefore, I am sure our tireless caregivers will welcome the move by the Ministry of Health to provide the much-needed Home Caregiving Grant of $200.

 

An important task for caregivers is to bring their sick loved ones to hospital and clinics on a regular basis. If a caregiver is employed, he/she will have to apply for vacation leave to accompany their loved one for their medical appointment/s.

 

Therefore, to promote caregiving as a noble task, I urge the policy makers to consider providing a caregiver leave scheme of between 3 to 5 days. 

 

Dr Kalyani Kirtikar Mehta was spot on when she pointed out that if caregivers are supported by other family members, the community and the government, they are less likely to suffer burnout.

 

Unfortunately, as caregiving is daunting, most, if not all the time, the caregiver role is often not shared, leaving just one person to handle this unenviable task. It is even more taxing, daunting if any caregiver has to look after a loved one with mental disorders, and I am sure many of our Ministers and Members of Parliament know this only too well. Thus, the support mechanism for caregivers must be put solidly in place and be on-going.

 

If caregiver leave is implemented, I have every confidence that other family members will step forward and share in caregiving, thereby easing the load of a primary caregiver.

Idea rejected by the press, being considered by the Ministry of Health

Regrettably, my letter was not published even though it was a value -added suggestion. It is an irony that while the press did not see it fitting to publish my letter, when I wrote to the Health Minister at the Ministry of Health (MOH), The reply I received was encouraging. MOH said that they will assess and review my proposal. Now if the caregiver leave is implemented, wouldn’t thousands of our caregivers’ benefit?

High time our journalists are trained to see the merits of good ideas and not take the easy way out by throwing it into the back-burner.

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando

 

 

 

Friday, October 4, 2019

Open Public Suggestion to the Singapore Government: Caregiver leave can help family caregivers a great deal


The salient points raised by the writer are valid concerns which our caregivers face in helping their loved ones cope better (Policies must proactively support caregivers, September 28, 2019. The Straits Times).

 

Caregiving is taxing and a costly affair as most of these caregivers pay a heavy price: Physically, mentally and financially. 

 

As caregiving is often a 24-hour task, many caregivers have to end of giving up their full-time jobs.  

 

Therefore, I am sure our tireless caregivers will welcome the move by the Ministry of Health to provide the much-needed Home Caregiving Grant of $200.

 

An important task for caregivers is to bring their sick loved ones to hospital and clinics on a regular basis. If a caregiver is employed, he/she will have to apply for vacation leave to accompany their loved one for their medical appointment/s.

 

Therefore, to promote caregiving as a noble task, I urge the policy makers to consider providing a caregiver leave scheme of between 3 to 5 days. 

 

Dr Kalyani Kirtikar Mehta was spot on when she pointed out that if caregivers are supported by other family members, the community and the government, they are less likely to suffer burnout.

 

Unfortunately, as caregiving is daunting, most, if not all the time, the caregiver role is often not shared, leaving just one person to handle this unenviable task. It is even more taxing, daunting if any caregiver has to look after a loved one with mental disorders, and I am sure many of our Ministers and Members of Parliament know this only too well. Thus, the support mechanism for caregivers must be put solidly in place and be ion-going.

 

If caregiver leave is implemented, I have every confidence that other family members will step forward and share in caregiving, thereby easing the load of a primary caregiver.

 

In closing, allow me to lead you to video production entitled ODE TO DORIS – Conqueror of Schizophrenia produced by a group of poly students who felt for both myself and my late wife, Doris Lau Siew Lang,

 


 
Sincerely,
Raymond Anthony Fernando


Reply from MOH


Dear Mr Raymond,

We refer to your email dated 4 October 2019 to the Ministry of Health.

Thank you for your feedback.

You may wish to know that your case is under assessment and we will require some time to review. We will respond in due course.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,
Jeffrey Lee
for Quality Service Manager
Ministry of Health, Singapore


 

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Schizophrenia: Raymond A Fernando’s shared his story on National TV 7 years ago


Dear Friends  
There has been lot of stigma surrounding mental illnesses and mental patients in Singapore. Spurred on by the love for his schizophrenic wife Doris, Raymond Fernando decided to become an advocate for the mentally ill. This is apart from having to care for Doris around the clock and providing financially for the both of them. Catch the final episode of Everyday Heroes as we chart this undying love.
It’s 5 years now since Doris has died, but I still miss her terribly. 
But she is safe NOW, in the arms of the Lord, free from prejudice, free from discrimination.
Doris has authored 8 books before she died, through my undying love for her. I have re-printed her very 1st book, a cookbook entitled “COOK WITH LOVE” which retails at $20. I thank God for bringing people to support our works, it helps me with my many needs NOW.
 
I am trying to cope with my own medical needs including osteoarthritis
Rally around me as I arrive at the last journey in my difficult life.
God Bless!
 
Sincerely,
Raymond Anthony Fernando

 
TV Show:  Everyday Heroes - EP9
 

Thursday, September 19, 2019


Opinion piece:  Show empathy, compassion and kindness to maids

 

I fully endorse the kindness, understanding that employers display to their hired helpers (Treat maids with respect, compassion, Sep 11, 2019)


Many of these helpers who come from poorer countries leave their families back home to earn better wages here in Singapore. It is a big sacrifice which all employers must appreciate.


When we are sensitive to the needs of maids and treat them well, as the writer has done, they will in turn look after the employer and all members of the household.

Most of our maids are up at the crack of dawn and work till as late at 10pm almost every day.   Find time to chat with the maid so that cordial relationships develop, bearing in mind that as friends, we tend to be more giving.


We need to create a people-centric culture to fully understand that working together helps to achieve a common goal. No harm in lending a hand to the maid when it comes to doing household chores.  Children who observe such kindness will grow up to be more caring citizens.


I have seen maids carrying the school bags of their employers’ children and showering them with love and kindness.  Ultimately, such virtues will translate into lifelong relationships and help to make this a far better world.


While eating my lunch at the market today, Wednesday 18th September 2019, I saw a Filipino maid taking her lunch which was paid for by her employer. I was in 2 minds. Happy that she has meals, but saddened that she leaves her home to earn better wages in Singapore. It's terrible to be without food.

Given that I have diabetes my hunger pangs are many. And if I don't take food I will collapse.

Let’s rally around them and bring happiness to these foreign domestic helpers who are also human beings.

 

 

RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO

 

 

 

 

Friday, September 6, 2019

Opinion piece: Consumers must be prudent when purchasing groceries, but don’t write off ABC stores




The Straits Times ran an article on the ABC store at Potong Pasir which they felt had been misleading consumers “Sales that never end could soon come to an end”, September, 2, 2019).

 

Following that report, regular forum writer, Jeffrey Law Lee Beng also then took issue with the store in his letter, which in a nutshell said that action must be taken against the store, “Clamp down on shop owners who falsify original prices of sale items, September 4, 2019).

 

First of all, let us understand that the ABC stores is regarded by many consumers who include maids, the elderly and lower income groups as a poor man’s grocery store. The goods purchased help stretch the dollar.

 

There are hundreds of foreigners, including Filipino maids and Indian nationals who patronise the stores island-wide. In Lucky Plaza alone, at least 3 of its branches offer items which are value for money.  These foreigners leave their families behind to come to Singapore to earn better wages and depend on these stores to buy affordable groceries.   Let us not deprive them of providing decent meals for their families as many of them live in poor countries.

 

The Filipino maids often buy 2 to 3 bags of such groceries and send it by courier to their families back home as such items help them to keep costs down. Additionally, these groceries are a luxury back home.  

 

In striving to build a gracious and more caring society, let us make every effort to show kindness, empathy and compassion to the poor and the needy.

 

For example, a medium size bottle of shampoo cost only $1, while a bar of Dove soap cost just 50 cents. For $10, consumers can purchase lots of biscuits and even chocolates which the bigger supermarkets like NTUC FairPrice or Sheng Song cannot offer. 

 

Singapore is one of the most expensive cities in the world and everyone has to be prudent in their spending.

 

I also purchase such groceries from the ABC or Value add stores as I am no longer holding a fulltime job.

 

What is important is for consumers to check the expiry dates when buying products – and on the part of the stores, they can give bigger discounts for items which expiry dates fall within a month.  Then if the consumer decides to buy them, they should use them before the expiry dates.

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando

Thursday, September 5, 2019

On-going enriching marriage commitment programmes needed to combat greying divorce: An open public suggestion to Desmond Lee, Minister for Family & Social Development & the Cabinet


3rd September 2019



 

It is a worrying trend that seniors are ending their marriage after being together for decades (Divorces among seniors in Singapore going up, Sept, 2)

It is a sad reality that grey divorce appears to be a new demographic trend, and this has accelerated in the 21st century. 

Getting married is easy, but staying married is another matter entirely.  Even more challenging is staying committed to each other throughout the rest of their lives.

The divorce experience is emotionally and financially traumatic and includes a long list of psychological side effects that so often leads to burnout.  Where there are adult children involved, the break up will wreak havoc as, out of no choice, children will have to put their personal lives on hold to handle difficult situations at home.

To help bring down grey divorce, it would be useful to have programmes that helps couples value the marriage vows which they took when they signed on the dotted line,

One way is to have the marriage encounter programme for married seniors carried out every 5 years. These 10 to 12 sessions have proven effective in getting married couples to value the bonds of marriage. 

Testimonies from couples who have stayed resilient throughout their marriage journey could be invited to share their joyful experiences to motivate and inspire all attending.

Given that seniors may find it a challenge to pay for the programmes, it will help a great deal if such sessions can be fully sponsored or given subsidies by the organisers.

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando

 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Raymond’s on-going journey to bring a better tomorrow




Dear all,

 

My trip to Selangor (KL) for a meeting with a mental health NGO (MIASA) whose Patron is the daughter of the Malaysian King on 22nd August went well – and they are impressed with my sharing on how I took care of my late wife Doris Lau who battled schizophrenia for 40 years, eventually bringing her to a full recovery.  Before Doris died, she authored 8 books with my coaching.  MIASA plans to secure sponsorship and invite me back next year to speak on schizophrenia & depression at public forums. They have 500 caregivers.

There were concerns when there were disruptions at the KL airport over WIFI breakdowns and computer issues, but the staff at the hotel where I stayed and the airport officers were very helpful.  I prayed to Jesus and HE protected me and brought me home safe & sound.

The flight stewardess, Miss Cassie Wong at Jetstar was awesome, chatted with me during the 1-hour flight and gave me a delicious muffin. Nice to know that kindness and empathy is spreading. Going the extra mile helps a great deal.

 It has not been easy for me to secure support, as some critics have heavily criticized me. But I remain steadfast and am grateful for some kind Catholics who rallied around me and sponsored my trip including accommodation at KL   They include a European gentleman whose daughter has special needs. He told me he supports me as it is a worthwhile project I am embarking on.

I am indeed also grateful to IMH management & their staff for the wonderful support they have – and continue to give me as I try my best to help caregivers trying to cope with taking care of loved ones with mental illness. IMH. I manged to secure sponsorship for my late wife’s very first book COOK WITH LOVE.   

My next project will be another book on kindness (See covers attached).

I am encouraged by the support from kind people who believe in me, one of whom is a professional, His review of my earlier book on kindness sums up my commitment & dedication to make this world a far better place.  On all accounts we can each make a difference.

“Mr Fernando speaks from the expertise of vast experience; his tales are taken from everyday encounters that we sometimes underrate or understate in our haste to fill up every 24 hours as quickly as possible. Written by a HDB heartlander with heart well-grounded in the heartlands. Take a listen.”

 

Cheers,

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando