the dreamer in me, and Bryant


In an unknowing way I have often been inspired by social entrepreneurs and have been inspired by the likes of Istvan Aba-Horvath, Muhammad Yunus, and more savvy and contemporary ones like Blake Mycoskie
When Bryant came along {read his story HERE and HERE}, spending 60% of our time in NICU {neo-natal intensive care unit}, ICU {intensive care unit}, HDU {high dependency unit} and later normal admission wards were a normal drill in our lives.

Opting out of a fixed employment, I had been fortunate in many ways to have friends that reached out and continued to provide me with work on a consultative or part-time basis. For example, my old Jewish boss {also known affectionately as ‘my Jewish grandpa’} actually continued to pay me monthly for 6 months until I begged him to stop and went on a profit sharing scheme with him. 

In any case, as we were in private hospitals mostly, we were unaffected much by the harsher realities of living with a special child and had little socialisation with families undergoing the same predicament.

It was only later that Bryant begun to seek some other treatments – tests mostly – in the local public hospitals that the stark reality of balancing life with a special needs child hit me.

The families, parents and caregivers I met in these public hospitals had little time to wallow in ‘why me?’, ‘where’s God?’, and all blame assigning thoughts or self pity. 

They had bigger challenges: financial and time
Interestingly both are at the opposing ends and yet complementary.
The acuity of the problem increases with families from the rural areas of Malaysia who had to bear the burden of time and cost of traveling. Often found physically exhausted in waiting areas of the hospital, their appearance were unkept and they had all their belongings by their sides. Waiting to be attended to. Waiting for the next public transportation to make their way back.
In a disillusioned manner I was resolute to resolve this.
I had wanted to create my own version of Ronald McDonald’s Home in housing areas around the large public hospitals. I had lofty ambitions of creating and educating people on crowd-funding and chore-sharing to maintain the premises.
In addition, I had wanted to provide employment to the stay at home moms who left their jobs to care for their special needs child. To me, the funds were important for them, but the driving motive for the dreamer in me was to restore their self-worth, confidence and sense of belonging and support in the larger community as I had personally experienced how demoralising, demotivating, lonely and depressing it can be to continuously care and provide unconditional love without any hope and real understanding by people around you. 
With that in mind, I shared my ideas with my buddy and partner in crime; an architect by profession – Andy P.

So when we’re not drawing and conceptualising funky merchandising windows and displays for shops, or actually creating the windows with our ah pek contractors way into the wee mornings in departmental stores across the Klang Valley, we were working on our little not-for-profit venture called Liechette; a company that produces soft furnishing and handmade stationery, staffed by family and friends of brain injured children with the end products being sold exclusively in one of the largest and most sought after furniture retailer chain locally.
With no experience in retail, needless to say we blew a big hole in our pockets and had to eventually do the heart wrenching tearful act of yanking the ’employment’ cord out from the family and friends of brain injured children.

Even with retail experience, I doubt there was a way for us to have predicted the arrival and rapid rise of IKEA, which soon saw the mushrooming effect of other large home decor stores which have ceased to exist today.

Lichette taught me a few things:
  1. how to sneak into ICU, HDU and general admission wards of private hospitals through the back doors and fire escapes,
  2. how to sew well and rapidly,
  3. how and when to unload stuff in many departmental stores loading bays,
  4. what the real cost of retail is {damage goods, stolen goods, unsold items, trends and fads …etc}
  5. how price matters to Malaysian – design and most of all a story or a cause {no matter how compelling} matters the least to Malaysian consumers,
  6. China always wins hands-down thanks to #5,
  7. how to embark on the next consulting career as an outplacement consultant having ‘retrenched’ our ’employees’, and
  8. how to have a successful partnership and business {other than financial losses} with a friend.
As Lichette was winding down {I still have bales and bales of very lovely and expensive imported fabrics and at least 2 rooms full of 18″x18″ floor to ceiling synthetic cushions if anyone wants to buy them cheap}, Val, my sister started dabbling in
This of course started off on a different course; one that came about out of desperation of a mother to capture memories of her son who had been predicted to have a short lifespan via scrapbooking.

Unable to source for items locally, Val bought items from abroad and subsidise her purchases by selling ribbons online. Soon, she gathered a few women who would collectively place orders with the manufacturers directly. Naturally, the manufacturers that existed, out numbered the demands of the ladies and an online store was created on the side to ‘push’ the items out at her convenience and very low costs.

As grew – or rather Val’s shopaholic addictions – we unconsciously sourced friends from our special child support group for help. Little did I realise that the flame of my dream continues to flicker … until I was placed on the spot for a life interview on NTV7’s Bella recently; one that was called with very little notice, hence almost no preparation on our part. In short, it’s as real as it get and unrehearsed.
Today, I dug out all the newspaper and magazine articles in which Bryant and have been featured in and was shocked at the numbers. I have a new mini project: to scrapbook both the media journey as Bryant turns 9 years old this May 12th.

I dedicate this to my sister – Val – who had allowed my dream to remain alive and to my mother whose love is bottomless, and strength and courage that far outweighs that of Darius, Alexander the Great and Shih Huang-ti.

Happy Birthday Bryant
Happy Mother’s Day – mom, Val and jie jie Serene
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

the LIVE Interview

some LESSONs learned on live TV interviews:

  1. do your own make-up
  2. do your own hair
  3. have a specially designed apron made for {still and motion} camera purposes that is more flattering to the physics
  4. wear strong bright colours
  5. never wear stretchable low cut dresses {note Elaine Daly’s bra showing!!!}
  6. always wear Christian Louboutin {even if the 6 inches does not match the frumpy looking apron coz if I had been ask to stand instead of sit, I’d be so short with Elaine being in a 4-1/2 inch heel}
  7. Cartier Santos looks like an el cheapo Casio on screen! 
  8. It doesn’t matter if you bought the watch for your sister; everyone thinks you are the church mouse who borrowed the watch and it’s the butt joke of the month. {butt jokers, read item 7.}
the serious LESSONs learned on live TV interviews:
  1. less expressive
  2. stop rolling eye balls {this I have to do on or off camera less of}
  3. do not slouch and insist on reviewing a shot from the camera to get angle right!
  4. mentally prepare answers … and to potentially any questions
  5. strategise the delivery of answers to lead towards a meaningful story {even if the host is asking clueless repeated questions}
  6. ignore the host on and off the camera – do not be affected by my surroundings and people’s behaviour
  7. prepare the Editorial team with loads of your choice photos and clips 
  8. get the PR Agency to represent you and prepare yourself right for item 3. to 7. even if you are not paying the agency anything – it’s a reciprocal deal most of the time

Oh well, only time and end product will tell as to how well I had taken note on the serious lessons and make conscious effort to improve on them. Have another TV event coming up and a commercial shoot soon.

As for everyone who’s working so hard and arranging for all of this to happen {FOC}, thanks so much for your trust, believe, support and conviction in us …


7 thoughts on “the dreamer in me, and Bryant

  1. wow! Great stuff. For your first ever live TV interview, that was really collected and professional.The animated bit is your trademark-la.Great stuff – so proud of you.So proud of me for knowing you!!! ha hahahahahah ha

  2. I'm a follower of your blog and find it very inspirational that you're able to balance life and give so much back. This piece of interview blown me and brought me back down to earth. I read the news clipping on Bryant as well. I will think many times in future before I complaint. Thanks for sharing.Siao

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