High School reunions are a time to reconnect and catch up. Five years ago, when Mr. Soba attended his school reunion, he was taken aback when he discovered that one of his friends from the past, Uncle Chew, had been severely injured in a freak accident, paralysing him from the waist down. The accident led to a ripple effect of him losing his job and source of income. On learning of this unfortunate state of affairs, Mr. Soba and some of their classmates rallied and have been supporting Uncle Chew for the past 5 years, together with Uncle Chew’s brother who looks into food and rent.
Sadly, Uncle Chew’s brother recently lost his job. Facing financial constraints, it came to a point where Uncle Chew limited himself to one meal a day, even skipping meals for a few days when he did not have the means. This is where Mr. Soba’s daughter, Hilda, stepped in. Speaking to her parents, Hilda learnt about Uncle Chew’s straitened circumstances. They were frustrated at not being able to do more, other than offer small financial bailouts.
It was then that the movement ‘A Christmas Gift for Uncle Chew’ first took root, with a fundraiser launched on Twitter. Hilda, who had previously raised money to purchase spectacles for two of her students, attempted to raise RM10, 000 for Uncle Chew. How, you may ask? Well, we’ve hinted in the title…Hilda decided to bake and sell chocolate chip cookies at RM30 a jar to raise funds for Uncle Chew’s expenses. At time of writing, the fundraiser, has already reached a whopping RM 18,000, surpassing all expectations, this including sale of cookies and monetary contributions.
We interviewed Hilda to learn more about her plans and what she hopes to achieve from this. Read on to find out more…
Q:How do you know Uncle Chew?
A: Uncle Chew is my dad’s school mate. They reconnected through a high-school reunion, and that was when my dad learnt about his condition. Ever since then, my dad and his school-mates have been trying to help and support Uncle Chew.
Q: What sparked this fundraising effort?
A: On a call with my parents, they informed me of Uncle Chew’s financial struggles. He needed a new bed, money for his catheter change, a new wheelchair, and other miscellaneous items. My parents handed him some money, but they were upset as they could not offer much. My mom then suggested this fundraiser. I’ve organized a fundraiser earlier this year to buy spectacles for two of my students who could not afford it. My mom raised the question if we could do something similar for Uncle Chew, and I jumped at the idea.
Q: What gave you the idea to bake for funds?
A: I am not keen on seeking donations from unknown people, more so from people who do not know Uncle Chew. I wanted to contribute, and prove that if I had to sell that many jars to raise RM10, 000, I would. Baking is a year-end ritual for me. This is the first thing I picked up from my dad. Over the years, I took over the baking of Christmas goods. His recipes remain the same though. I remember spending long hours in the kitchen, only to have all the cookies gone before Christmas. Hahaha!! But that did not deter us from baking or getting into the kitchen again.
Q: How will the funds be utilized?
A: We are raising money for a few items – a new ripple mattress (a special mattress for the paralyzed, which aids blood circulation and prevents bedsores), a new wheelchair (because his current one is falling apart), money for his monthly catheter change, food and rental for the next few months.
Q: What is it that drives you to do what you are doing?
A: I ask myself that. The answer is really simple. When I hear of situations like this, I keep thinking how unfair life can be, and nobody should go through hardships. But life is such, and if I can make a difference even for one person, I should. My parents have taught me much. Growing up, I’ve watched them give so generously. There was no holding back. I’ve seen how their kindness found its way back to them. I’m not expecting returns, but I do know that little actions of love go a long way in changing things, people and situations.
Q: This fundraising effort has received overwhelming response. How does this make you feel?
A: My friends and I sat together and reflected on this last Sunday. In 24 hours, I’ve received RM18, 000 in donations alone, and we kept talking about how crazy that was. Honestly, I am overwhelmed. I’ve learnt so much from people in just the past few days. There are so many loving and kind souls with big hearts. I’ve learnt, that if you don’t ask, you won’t receive. If I doubted this whole initiative, Uncle Chew may have had to wait longer for help. When you ask, someone always answers. Right before I posted, I checked with my friends. I kept asking them “Is RM10, 000 too much?? What if we can’t achieve it?” I even contemplated lowering the figure to RM5, 000. I am glad I did not. Here’s the thing, if you always play safe, you will never know your potential. Be open to experience the joy and miracles that can happen, when you think and go beyond. I am thankful to have been presented this opportunity, and grateful to the people who believed in me. I appreciate all who reached out to me, cheered me on, shared about this cause, and contributed. This is my Christmas miracle.
Hilda’s fundraising attempt truly embodies the spirit of giving congruent with the Christmas season. While they have gone beyond expectations, Hilda and family are keeping donations open if more charitable souls would like to contribute. If you wish to be one of them, you can make a donation to ‘A Christmas Gift for Uncle Chew’ using the following details:
Name : Hilda Paviter Kaur
Bank Account Number : 7059627567
Bank type : CIMB
Reference : Uncle Chew
Kudos to Hilda, her family and all contributors who just gave Uncle Chew a reason for a very merry Christmas!