August 21, 2020
Photos by: Bryan van der Beek | Words by: Serene Goh

(Photo above) Dr William Wan, 73, serves a community of ex-offenders and their families to overcome discrimination and successfully reintegrate into society through his work as the chairman of Prison Fellowship Singapore. Since Covid-19, he has helped his beneficiaries cope with the loneliness and mental stress from their isolation in their one-room rental flats.

Dr William Wan believes that kindness is rooted in how a society treats its members, and envisions one which “gives multiple chances to those who fail”. 

Since the Covid-19 pandemic kept social work agencies away from their beneficiaries, the general secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement noted: “Many suffer from loneliness and mental stress in their one-room rental flat, due to the lack of physical social interaction and the crammed habitat.”

Also the chairman of the Prison Fellowship Singapore (PFS), Dr Wan made headlines this year when on June 7, the day he turned 73, he completed as many push-ups for the PFS’s “Seventy Times Seven” (70×7) fundraiser.

PFS, which serves a community of families and individuals by helping them overcome discrimination, aimed to raise $730,000 to help ex-offenders successfully reintegrate through PFS’s non-religious arm.

Among its fund-raising channels, Giving.Sg raised $116,791 from 185 donors. Helping restore the dignity of those who are trying to shake their past mistakes, he says, “is often a long journey with many pitfalls and meanders and U-turns”.

“Many suffer from loneliness and mental stress in their one-room rental flat, due to the lack of physical social interaction and the crammed habitat.”

“These are the last, the least and the lost, and somehow they were turned around by the faith they embraced. Some of them are on staff with PFS, some are pastors, some are entrepreneurs, etc.”

For his efforts, Dr Wan won the President’s Award for Volunteerism and/or Philanthropy (Individual, Senior Category) in 2017, which he says gives both him and the charity higher visibility.

Ultimately, what drives him is: “The joy of seeing lives transformed and seeing these men and women giving back to society, helping to make a difference.”

If you know someone like Dr William Wan, nominate him or her for the President’s Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards 2020 Special Edition – Our Finest Hour in the City of Good. Closing date: 21 August 2020.


 

The Storytellers

  • Bryan is still trying to figure a way to combine his three main loves. Can anyone help him figure out how to balance his whole family on a motorbike while riding and taking photographs?

  • Serene believes in the power of good pie, and publishing stories that inspire. You can call her a pie-blisher.

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