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The Magical Light of Generosity | Caregiver Asia

[fa icon="calendar"] Mar 20, 2017 8:00:00 PM / by Teo Youliang Hakim

Jumping Off the Luxurious Life

Would you sacrifice a life of comfort and luxury to become a humble Caregiver and provide a better tomorrow the less privileged? Many of us might agree on the theory but would likely reconsider when it comes down to proper action. For Mr. Ben Cheong, however, it was simply an opportunity to brighten his magical light of generosity further!

Mr. Cheong founded the Magical Light Foundation five years ago in Thailand, Chiang Mai, at the expense of $50,000 from his own pockets, as well as the help of his two close friends who initially wanted to build a cafe in the area.

Ben Cheong is an exceptional caregiver with a magical light of generosity.

Image credit: Magical Light Foundation Facebook

It may seem peculiar for someone like Mr. Cheong, who has a deep interest in gemstones, artifacts, and curious, to devote much time and effort into a humanitarian project. However, the immense gratitude and the appreciation that he gains from the people he assists is a reward that’s impossible to match anywhere else.

“I wanted to do something that will eventually be sustainable, such as bringing education to the underprivileged,” he explained. “I believe this will ultimately help these kids out of their predicament and let them be empowered with the key to open the doors to their dreams and hope.”

Over the past decade, Mr. Cheong was responsible for raising funds to build up 40 schools, 20 computer classes, eight libraries and two medical centers that span across 10 countries in Asia. It was this personal kindness that also played a part in propelling him towards the establishment of the Magical Light Foundation.

Together with his newfound organization, Mr. Cheong and the Magical Light Foundation have initiated a significant number of annual educational and healthcare projects that has benefitted over 10,000 children and villagers. Not shying away from hazardous cases, the team has also spearheaded many humanitarian relief missions to help victims of disasters.

“We were there to render assistance for recent 2015 earthquake in Aceh that killed over 100 people, as well as the one in Nepal in 2015, which claimed almost 1000 lives,” Mr. Cheong somberly recalled. “We also helped out in other previous disasters, such as typhoons in the Philippines, cyclones in Bangladesh and torrential flooding in Thailand and Myanmar.”

Where many new organizations would struggle to stay afloat in their early years, the Magical Light Foundation encountered no such troubles under the skillful guidance of Mr. Cheong, who was also nominated for Singaporean of the Year in 2015.

“I probably owe my successes by keeping a positive outlook on handling issues and daily encounters,” he stated with a grin, “As well as the ability to assess the situation with a very clear understanding that there will be no ideal solution, but just the most suitable solution.”

Bringing the Lights to Singapore

Ben Cheong believes that the magical light of generosity exists in every caregiver.

Image credit: Magical Light Foundation Facebook

Recently closing his Thailand headquarters and moving it to Singapore early last year to better coordinate with his supporters, Mr. Cheong hopes to increase further awareness among Singaporeans on the plight of the less fortunate in third-world countries. He has taken it upon himself to deliver the heartfelt message via talks to students in various secondary schools, junior colleges, and universities.

“My last invitation was just two weeks ago, dropping by to speak at the School of Medicine in NUS, where 80 medical students, who are also group leaders, attended my talk,” he recalled.

“My talks are usually straight to the point; I shared with them the bad behaviors and attitude of some doctors on our charity trips, and continually reminded them of why they became doctors in the first place.”

“Your key responsibilities as a future doctor is to honor the noble medical profession, to dedicate your life to humanity, practice your profession with conscience and dignity, and not allowing your other considerations hinder your decision to save lives. Be a doctor with a heart, and not just with skill.”

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He acknowledged that a significant amount of Singaporeans are aware of the underprivileged and displaced communities and villages overseas, but is greatly concerned that he might lose the other half of the population to indifference.

“I’m generally impressed with some Singaporeans who have taken upon themselves to participate in some form of charity work and overseas missions, whether as a school project or on their own accord,” he stated.

“However, there are also plenty of Singaporeans who are too comfortable in their own environment and are unaware of the needs of the underprivileged in the third world countries.”

Mr. Cheong wants the government or major non-government organizations in the country, which he firmly believes have a responsibility in such humanitarian matters, to take a more driven approach to educating the current population on the glaring issue of poverty in neighboring countries.

He also hopes to recruit like-minded people in Singapore as well, using the Magical Light Foundation as a platform to get eager volunteers to come on board for helping out in future programs. Utilizing corporate social responsibility as a reward for big corporations that support their endeavors, the Magical Light Foundation has gained the services of top corporate leaders, doctors, and many other professional workers to provide assistance at remote villages in Myanmar and Thailand.

“In fact, the Magical Light Foundation will be sending a group of 40 Singaporean junior college and university students to Myanmar in June, this year, for a 10-day educational project,” he announced.

“Hopefully, this program will eventually groom a total of 500 aspiring Burmese teachers that will go on to pass their much-needed knowledge to local children at schools.”

Brightening Up Future Plans

The magical light of generosity is what keeps a caregiver going in their duties.

Image credit: Magical Light Foundation Facebook

Looking back at the long list of initiatives planned out by the Magical Light Foundation, Mr. Cheong acknowledged that the core foundations of the organization had been set.

“I believe I have already done most of the groundwork within my abilities and capacities for the Magical Light Foundation to attain higher achievements in the next few years,” he explained.

“With more capable and delegated volunteers on board, we should be able to help even more disadvantaged people.”

Mr. Cheong feels that volunteers who help out under the Magical Light Foundation undergo life changing experiences after their trips, which will, in turn, increase awareness of the plight of the less privileged.

“Over the years, I have brought a couple of hundreds of professional and corporate leaders on charities trips. I always asked them to write a reflection on their trip,” he said.

“Up to 90% of them will usually thank me for opening their eyes and hearts to something they had never given a thought before. They also write in their reflection on realizing what true happiness is and how it has nothing to do with what they have in their bank account!”

For Mr. Cheong, it has been quite the ride while holding the reins of the Magical Light Foundation. The experiences and encounters that he picked up throughout the journey have served as valuable lessons which molded both his character and his way of life.

“I would say that it has indeed changed my perspective on life,” he shared. “I realized that they might be poor, but in general, they are happy people.”

“We are much richer than them, but we are not as happy as them because we are living in a material world. In this essence, I always tell my supporters that we are not there to change their lives, but to give them a better support so that they can have wider choices in life.”

When it comes to the future, however, Mr. Cheong is already planning on grooming for a successor to take over his position when the time comes. He feels that the next leader is crucial in determining whether the successes of Magical Light Foundation will continue.

“My main consent and consideration is not on what the Magical Light Foundation can achieve in the next few years, but to find a suitable successor or successors,” he explained.

“How successful the Magical Light Foundation is today does not equate to their successes in the future. Succession planning is not a retirement plan for me, but a guarantee that the Magical Light Foundation can continue to shine when it is time for me to step down to a mentoring role once I have confirmed a suitable successor.”

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Topics: Caregiver Confidentials

Teo Youliang Hakim

Written by Teo Youliang Hakim

A CaregiverAsia writer, Hakim loves nothing better than to spruce up informative content for the readers, especially if it helps to make the world a better place. Other than that, he also enjoys the occasional chocolate chip cookie or catching reruns of F.R.I.E.N.D.S on the telly!