Love and well-wishes for late The Coconut Club co-founder Lee Eng Su

Mr. Lee Eng Su, co-founder of The Coconut Club, has passed away at the age of 40.

 

The Coconut Club

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Opened in 2016, The Coconut Club has quickly established itself as one of the best Nasi Lemak eating spots in Singapore, earning the coveted Bib Gourmand award.

It was also graced by PM Lee Hsien Loong, who invited Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Philippines, to the restaurant.

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The man

Bosses
Mr. Lee Eng Su (left)

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According to The Straits Times, Mr. Lee shared his passion for seeing the nasi lemak as more than just a dish, but a “cuisine”.

Many have commended Mr. Lee on his respect for the dish, and his constant belief in consistently making improvements to the dish.

Programme director of a food and beverage (F&B) entrepreneurship course at Singapore Management University (SMU), Mr. Michel Lu reflected:

What he has done is very important for Singapore – to preserve heritage food that is authentic and true. It is done with a lot of care and I have a lot of respect for what they have achieved.

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Kf Seetoh from Makansutra also voiced his appreciation for the man, that he poured his heart and soul into creating the perfect dish for people. Despite having earnt the aforementioned Bib Gourmand award, Mr Lee still humbled himself and paid close attention to what his customers sought.

 

The boss

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Under his leadership, he has not only brought The Coconut Club as a business to greater heights, but has cultivated the best relationship with his employees by treating them as family.

A 21-year-old SMU student Ms. Laura Chan mentioned:

When he interviewed me for the job, he told me about how everyone is family at the restaurant. When I told him about how much I love my grandparents, he cried because he understood how important that was. That was life-changing for me, because I’ve never met someone so loving. He has always been a beacon of light for all of us.

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Ms. Chan’s words are reflective of Mr. Lee’s emphatic spirit, that he brought himself to understand Ms. Chan’s immense love for her grandparents.

Another employee was full-time staff Michelle Paul. While reluctant to stay in the F&B industry, it was through interacting with Mr. Lee that made her love and want to stay in The Coconut Club.

He had a dream for everyone and wanted us to grow.

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Another chef, Mr. Nazrin Shah also expressed Mr. Lee’s kindness as the former went through a breakup:

I wasn’t myself then, but instead of firing me, he paid for me to go for therapy sessions.

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Mr. Lee was able to look past his employees as mere workers, but got to know each and everyone of them on a personal level.

Mr. Shah later adds:

He always had a dream for educating the community and giving back to society. We want to carry on his legacy.

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Mr. Lee has inspired many through his passion for food and for people.

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Reflecting a love for flavours and the chase to create something that people would enjoy, Mr. Lee strives to craft the perfect meal. More than eating something tasty, it is the whole experience to create the perfect dish for all.

His love for people is also clear. Mr. Lee simply loved people and wanted to best help them grow and develop.

 


Cover image from here (left) and here (right).

A very special street party: 20th years at Jln Bintang Tiga

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Who says the kampung spirit is dead?

Meet residents from Jln Bintang Tiga. For 20 years as of writing, they have kept their special street party tradition alive.

The residents would come together annually on National Day.

 

The parties started out small. There were few families present and it involved a simple potluck dinner.

Since 2013, the event has even been supported by the Singapore Kindness Movement!

One of the residents, James Suresh pointed out:

We had a small gathering at the suggestion of one of our old neighbours who has since moved out. It piqued the curiosity of some of the other neighbours, and so we decided to organise a proper party that everyone could attend.

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The yearly tradition has grown much from its humble beginnings: better organization, more food, more participants, and most of all, more joy.

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Suresh’s wife, Evelyn Chew, runs a well-oiled publicity process. She announces the celebrations by posting flyers into each letterbox. She later follows up with respective phone calls and arranges who’s bringing what.

Even old neighbours who have moved out still return for the yearly gathering. Evelyn would extend the invitation for them, keeping the love alive even if they have moved.

The parties gives residents a chance to interact beyond the small talk and the “hi bye” formalities.

Suresh substantiates:

We’ve got neighbours helping to prepare food, and collate names for registration. There’s also a couple just down the street that helps with the games – the husband puts in a lot of time to craft a piñata for the children, and the wife makes a beautiful jelly cake that commemorates how many years the Jalan Bintang Tiga street party has been going on for.

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Facilitating and continuing on the kampung spirit is why residents consistently look forward to the yearly party, and that it has lasted for a good 20 years.

Suresh also reflects on fostering a friendly and welcoming neighbourhood:

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In neighbourhoods that are not very friendly… you can just have a quarrel with your neighbours over parking spaces, for example, and not feel anything because there’s no love lost.

But if you’ve built strong friendships with your neighbours, you won’t have issues when someone parks outside your house or celebrates a wedding or festive occasion. You’re willing to let them take your space, and you have no qualms handing your keys to your neighbours for safekeeping when you’re on holiday because you trust them.

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The 20th anniversary of the celebrations was extra special as Jalan Bintang Tiga would be recognised as Singapore’s first “Friendly Street”.

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The event usually ends off with an exciting water bomb session, planned by Suresh’s and Evelyn’s adult children.

If anybody sends over their maid to help, we’ll say, ‘No, get the kids to clean up’.

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Suresh also reflects, back during the 16th anniversary of party celebrations:

Are we really the only street that does this? I hope not! We don’t have to wait for someone else to build this neighbourhood spirit for us – we can do it ourselves! I hope many more will do so.

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Go beyond the small talk today.

Despite festivities being held at Jalan Bintang Tiga, other neighbourhoods can take inspiration from the friendly neighbourhood and foster their own communities with our newfound Kampung spirit!

 


Cover image from here (left) and here (right).

70th blood donation from a man with intellectual disabilities

Conrad Puah Neo made his first blood donation in 1997, and has donated his blood 69 times since.

 

Looking forward to donating

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Even when I was a blood donor, when they were doing the donation I would just turn away – I didn’t want to look, I didn’t want to anticipate it. Not him, he will look at the needle!

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Conrad always looks forward to donating more blood, and sometimes even a month after donation, he will inquire on when he can donate even more blood yet again!

I like to donate blood and I’m not scared, this blood will save patients.

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Early Development

Conrad suffers from an intellectual disability, due to suffering from a high fever when he was younger.

His parents did not realise that the fever would have such a large impact on Conrad until they they realized his delays on several milestones whilst growing up.

His condition was finally confirmed when he was 4 years of age. His parents were initially devastated, but they later pledged to immerse him in a normal life:

We would not ‘hide’ him at home, and he would socialise like others in his age group.

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Being helpful in his nature

Conrad graduated from Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) Towner Gardens School when he was 18.

He currently packs earphones at Minds Idea Employment Development Centre (MINDS IEDC).

His father, Clement, gushes about how Conrad is always looking out for how to be helpful to those around him.

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We spent three years in Israel where he went to a Hebrew school. At the first parent-teacher conference, the teacher said: ‘Please tell Conrad not to be so helpful!’

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Conrad has often been commended on the fact that he is willing to bend over backwards to be of service to others:

He would see the teacher drop the duster and from the back of the class, he would walk there. And when he walks, he doesn’t care what comes in between… even the table could be knocked over. That’s him.

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Conrad certainly has a heart of gold, and takes initiative in attempts to help others.

 

Like father, like son

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Frequently accompanying Mr Puah Neo to his blood donating adventures, it was only about time that Conrad followed suit.

I explained to him that blood saves lives, so from very young, he wanted to donate blood himself. So as soon as he was able to, when he was 21 years old, I brought him.

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Unfortunately, there appears to be fewer youths coming forward to donate blood. From 2012 to 2016, is has been reported that the number of youths donating blood decreased by 13%.

This greatly contrasts the growing demand, of which blood usage rate is said to increase 3% to 5% annually.

Regular donors like Conrad are important to the blood replenishing ecosystem we currently have in place in Singapore.

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Conrad aims to reach his 100th donation in 2023!

His outlook to life and willingness to help others through any given capacity is testament to his desire to simply be good. Conrad has never let his intellectual disability stopped him from doing more and doing good.

Conrad’s ways also prompts us to donate more blood, due to the consistent need by our fellow Singaporeans. Let us, like Conrad, lend a helping hand.


If you would like to donate blood, you can sign up here with HSA.

Cover image from here (left) and here (right).

Gift a smile, share a mooncake with a migrant worker today!

Got leftover mooncakes at home? Or simply watching your waistline?

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People tend to buy more mooncakes than they can consume. In 2016, it was reported that Hong Kong had wasted an astonishing level of 1.6 million mooncakes.

Share your mooncakes with someone else!

For Itsrainingraincoats, they have decided to donate mooncakes to fellow migrant workers in Singapore.

 

Itsrainingraincoats

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Itsrainingraincoats originally began with wanting to show gratitude towards migrant workers. It is an initiative that prompts people to pass migrant workers disposable raincoats when necessary.

Their Facebook page writes:

A migrant worker who falls sick due to having worked in the rain rarely gets a medical day off or the luxury of being tucked up in bed with a hot cup of tea and a television to watch. He will have no choice but to show up at work the next day exposing himself to further injury, as work place accidents are more likely occur when a worker is weak, unwell or unable to function fully.

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Today, they have moved beyond raincoats, and have gone on to collect other essentials such as: umbrellas, water bottles, clothing, etc.

Most recently, they have chosen to collect and donate mooncakes.

 

Donating

Also they need the extra calories given the hard labour they undertake for more than 12 or more hours a day!

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Beautiful mooncakes can be put to good use by planting a smile on the faces of the migrant workers.

Itsrainingraincoats also makes it convenient for everyone to help out. They have designated various collection points throughout Singapore, allowing one to donate items easily and efficiently.

To view the collection points, you can click here.

 

Taking initiative

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Itsrainingraincoats has truly brought a smile to much of the migrant worker community. While we may simply throw our mooncakes away, we sometimes forget that others can benefit from what we do not want or need.

The love and joy that Itsrainingraincoats has spread to migrant workers invites us to think about those who are just living amongst us, and be more aware of various communities.

 

 

 

Giving birth in a GOJEK car

On 23 August 2019, at about 5:30am, I started to feel light contractions.

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Nurisah Mohamed initially ignored her contractions, though they started happening every 5 minutes at around the 8:30am mark.

Nurisah opted for a GOJEK to the hospital due to the fact that she was not due for birth just yet. Her sister-in-law was by her side.

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To the hospital

They met Mr Leng Khee Kwong, who was instructed to drive Nurisah, her sister-in-law and the little one to KK Hospital.

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But before we could reach the hospital, I was in labour… It was such a chaotic moment! I was shouting so badly because of the pain. My water bag burst, and my sister-in-law said she could see the baby’s head coming out…

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Driver’s kindness

The driver was very nice to assist us with the support by calming me down and saying 123 push… Don’t worry we will reach soon…

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Mr Leng was calm and level-headed, and consistently reassured Nurisah to breathe and that they were reaching the hospital soon.

After an exhausting 20 minute period, Nurisah welcomed to the world her second daughter – in Mr Leng’s car!

Eventually, they arrived at KK Hospital. Nurisah and her little one were sent to the labour ward. She was later assisted by the nurses on the proper tools and safety precautions.

 

Thank you, Mr Leng

I’m sorry for the chaotic moments and the mess in your car. Even when we insist to give him some cash, he doesn’t want it and congrats us on the safe delivery.

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We could learn a thing or two from Mr Leng. For starters: his calm nature and ability to support Nurisah when she needed it most! Giving birth is undoubtedly a physically excruciating experience, and Mr Leng was able to let her remember to breathe throughout.

The fact that he also rejected the extra cash as perhaps an offer for the mess made in the car. Mr Leng’s kindness transcends the transactional bounds, rejecting the extra money being offered to him.

Sure, the circumstances were presented as such, but Mr Leng took his newfound responsibility and embraced it with gusto! Thank you Mr Leng for your kindness, and helping Nurisah every step of the way!

 

You can check out the Facebook post here:

 


Cover image from here (left) and here (right).

Day in a life of a special education teacher

Hi, Cher!

Meet Daisy Khng, a special education teacher for 9 years. She currently works at Rainbow Centre over at Margaret Drive.

Daisy initially worked as a relief teacher at Towner Gardens School under MINDS. Fortunately for her, she managed to witness a father’s unwavering love and devotion to his son with special needs in a bus ride. She noticed that even though his son did not listen, the father still loved him unconditionally. Moved, she eventually converted from her relief teacher position to her current full-time position at Rainbow Centre.

She currently teaches the Junior Section, for children aged 7 to 10 years of age.

 

Starting the day right

Every day, Daisy does a check-in with her fellow students.

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The check-in involves taking their attendance, talking about the weather, and last but not least “Letters of the week”.

“Letters of the week” is about sharing words and things associated with the alphabet. Essentially, it is a word-association activity.

Daisy reflects that the daily check-in is helpful:

because the kids like structure and routines

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Routines help convey a sense of order and allows the class to be primed for Daisy to teach.

 

Teaching style

Daisy has to adapt to the learning conditions of her students, of which most can’t speak.

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Yet, it is not a setback for Daisy. She is still able to have fruitful and engaging conversations with the students through Pragmatic Organisation Dynamic Display (PODD). PODD is a system with various visuals in attempting to aid sentence formation, prompting a response from her students.

The visuals on the PODD system are sorted into categories such as food and drinks, activities, etc.

Besides helping the non-verbal kids to communicate, it also encourages the rest to speak up more.

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The children point towards specific images and attempt to construct sentences. The visual aid enhances the learning of both verbal and non-verbal students to be able to engage in a discussion and communicate together. This gives students a platform to speak up and express themselves.

The students also do try to engage in a bit of fun:

Though sometimes my cheeky students use the PODD to say nonsense

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Ahh, kids will be certainly be kids.

 

Challenges in teaching

Daisy once reflected on having to teach about the challenging abstract concept of emotions, explaining that it was extremely difficult for her students to be able to grasp the concept.

She remembers teaching the feeling of being scared, but students could not capture the emotion she was trying to explain.

The implementation of cartoons saved the day: used as a teaching tool, they greatly helped facilitate her teaching.

Daisy reflects that teaching strategies should constantly be tried and tested to cater to the needs of the children.

Fostering communication

It is important to have patience and an open mind.

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Teachers like Daisy inspire us to take the time to learn more about others, that we ought to have patience and have a willingness to treat those with special needs as individuals before their needs.

She also comments that while some of those who have special needs may not have verbal capabilities, they still have a voice. It is up to us to give them a platform to establish their voice and accept them for who they are.

 


Cover images from here (left) and here (right).

How to react when someone confides in you about suicide

Disclaimer: While much effort has been put into finding the best possible information for the article, this is still largely an opinion-piece. The subject of suicide is an extremely complex topic, and we over at The Hidden Good are not trained professionals in this field. We write this as a starting point and to encourage more open-minded behaviour on talking about suicide.


It may be a difficult conversation to talk about. Often, when we talk about suicide, we are likely at a loss of what to do.

Yet, it is perhaps one of the more important conversations one can have.

Understand

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The heart of another is a dark forest, always, no matter how close it has been to one’s own.

― Willa Cather

Sometimes all we need is a listening ear.

While human beings are complex, and it is often difficult to fully grasp what another is feeling, attempt to recognize that one is struggling.

Give them a space to express, a space to talk, a space to articulate.

Ask open questions, allow them to formulate their thoughts.

When talking about suicide, take it seriously. More often than not, it may be a cry for help.

Be open when talking about suicide. It may seem that talking about suicide may be counterintuitive, but the fact that the conversation is happening is a positive sign.

Encourage

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Be a friend and give them hope, offer your support.

Encourage them to seek out additional help, such as by accompanying them to see a mental health professional.

You can also encourage them to find help in other communities: support groups, faith communities, teachers, or other trusted individuals.

Surrounding themselves with supportive individuals or communities offers a space of hope, and makes things less uncertain.

Refer

You can’t keep it a secret.

While someone who is suicidal may confide in you on the basis of trust, it is important for us to never promise to keep one’s suicidal feelings a secret.

Of course, naturally, you can’t go sprouting such information at the top of your lungs either.

Rather, communicate that you seek to be understanding. However, if it comes down to one’s life being in danger, you cannot keep mum about it. At such a juncture, it is important that one seeks help.

If there are people you believe are at risk of suicide, you can contact Samaritans of Singapore by emailing pat@sos.org.sg or calling 1800-221-4444.

Tying it together

Most of all, remember to be a friend or family and show genuine concern.

It may be one of the most unfortunate and uncomfortable conversations to have, but it can be among the most life-changing.

Let us all be a friend or family to someone else, and first start by giving one a listening ear. Your intervention can help one extensively, showing that there are other options especially when they are at a loss of what to do.


For anyone having suicidal thoughts, you can contact Samaritans of Singapore’s 24-hour hotline at 1800-221-4444.

Cover image from here (left) and here (right).