He was the man behind Bedok’s famous Bak Chor Mee at Market 85. But all that changed abruptly six years ago. “The pain was intense. Even the slightest movement of my head or fingers shot pain throughout my body.”
Looking at Uncle Richard in person today, you’d never imagine that he was once over 150kg, suffered a major stroke and could barely move or talk.
“I thought it was the end.”
July 2011, Richard Cheng Poh Guan, then 47 years old had just suffered a hemorrhagic stroke attack.
“I couldn’t believe it initially. Stroke happens to the old people I thought. When the doctor told me that I had stroke due to blood vessel rupture in my brain, I thought it was the end.”
“I couldn’t move, and I couldn’t even talk properly. But my family needed me. That kept me going.”
Thankfully, Richard got up and walked within a few days of suffering the stroke attack. He attributed it to the support from his wife and friends, as well as the therapy sessions. He was then introduced to Bethesda Care and Counselling Services Centre (BCCSC) for financial assistance.
“I attended about four counselling sessions from September till January as I was on financial assistance. It was then that I decided that I want to do something more meaningful. I was a hawker, but I don’t want to just be a hawker all my life. During the last counselling session, I expressed interest in working at Bethesda Care and Counselling Services Centre.”
“I decided that I want to do something more meaningful.”
In February 2012, Richard started work as a part-time staff in BCCSC’s kitchen.
However, it was only when he voluntarily joined the Meals-on-Wheels (MOW) team in delivering meals to the elderly that he found his new calling.
“The elderly who we deliver meals to, most of them are homebound. I never realised that there were so many of them. The first time that I helped out at MOW, I met Lim*. He was crawling on the floor and could not even stand up. I realised then, how important this meal delivery role was – that I am here to help them.”
On the 16th of March, 2012, Richard started to work as a full-time staff, no longer in the kitchen, but with the MOW team.
“I had recovered a whole lot since July, but I still had a limp and suffered serious delay between my perception and movements. I fell almost once every day for the first 6 months during the meals delivery rounds. But I was determined to get the job done and meet the elderly. Because of my own health history, I felt moved to help them.”
A Life Testimony
Five years into MOW as a full-time staff in BCCSC, Richard uses his own testimony to encourage the elderly.
“As a stroke patient myself, I know that when a stroke patient tries to move, it is extremely painful. But this pain is part of recovery and exercise is necessary. The elderly need encouragement to realise this and overcome the pain.”
“I tell them that I’ve gone through the same pain as them. It took 2 years to fully recover. But look at me, I even completed the 42km Standard Chartered marathon in 2014!”
“Then there are times when an elderly suddenly passes on. Sometimes it’s due to accidents that happen when they are home alone. There is no one to look out for them. They are alone. It becomes our responsibility to look out for them when we deliver meals.”
Bethesda Care and Counselling Services Centre is located at 300 Bedok North Avenue 3. Our Elderly Services offers Meals-on-Wheels (MOW) and Medical Escort & Transport (MET) services to elderly clients staying in the East area of Singapore – Bedok, Tampines, Simei and Pasir Ris. If you are keen to join BCCSC as a volunteer, do contact us through our online signup form. For more information, please visit our website or our Facebook page.
*Names in this article has been changed to protect our clients.