I lost my sight not my purpose - Tan Guan Heng lost his sight during the peak of his career in a publishing firm, but it didn’t stop him from pursuing his passions – writing and being of service to others.
To Tan Guan Heng, everyone can be a conduit of change and hope. He established a low vision clinic that helps detect and treat early signs of eye diseases, and founded the Singapore Association for the Visually Handicapped (SAVH) Library. Among many accomplishments, he received the President’s Social Service Award (PSSA), the Bintang Bakti Masyarakat Award, and the Goh Chock Tong Enable Award. Despite his impressive contributions, he remains humble, often spending his time writing, listening to the radio, and keeping fit through swimming and stationary cycling.
Tan Guan Heng found out about his disability in university. “It was a difficult time as I realised how I took my sight for granted. Suddenly, I couldn’t play games or tennis,” he recalls. This was a huge blow as he lived an active lifestyle. While the news was challenging at first, he decided not to wallow in self-pity and stuck to his purpose.
Instead of retreating from the world out of frustration, he immersed himself in writing – and write he did. With the aid of Braille language and support from family and friends, he was able to chronicle different stages of his life in books. One such book is entitled “My Love is Blind,” a novel based on his own story.
Tan Guan Heng is a true testament that you should never lose sight of your purpose regardless of the situation you are in. He believes that the blind and visually handicapped are capable of becoming leaders and productive workers in society. They do not want to be seen as passive recipients of charity. With dedication and employment opportunities, they can be an asset and contribute to the community.
By being part of The Purple Parade movement this year, he encourages everyone to come together and continue the good work towards inclusivity. He also hopes to see an institute for disability studies in Singapore in the future. "Social service agencies concentrate on their own research. With the creation of this institute, this research can be used by the government and private sector, for elevating the status and lives of people with disabilities," he explains.
Tan Guan Heng has had many impressive chapters in his life. It stands as inspiration that if you have a strong purpose, you too can be the writer of your own story.
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