The Star – October 24, 2005.
Debt of gratitude
As blogging gains popularity in the country, a new trend is fast emerging – blogging for charity. MICHAEL CHEANG talks to disabled blogger Peter Tan about one such effort on his blog.
TWO years ago, they helped ease his dying mother’s final days, and today, wheelchair-bound blogger Peter Tan is expressing his gratitude to the Penang Hospice-At-Home-Programme by sacrificing something he holds dear – his trademark long hair which he has kept for almost three years.
Tan, who is paralysed from the chest down following a diving accident 21 years ago, has pledged to shave his head to raise RM5,000 for the Hospice programme. Hospice helped care for his mother Theresa Lim in 2003 when she was stricken with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.
Being wheelchair-bound, Tan had trouble caring for her, and Hospice sent a palliative care nurse three days a week during her final month to check on her and provide her with all the medical and nursing care she needed. Those visits made a difference in easing her pain, and also made Tan’s job of caring for his mother a lot easier.
Besides caring for his mother, Hospice’s staff also helped Tan. “I developed a pressure sore on my buttocks from long hours of sitting up tending to mum, and they dressed the sore too,” Tan recalled.
“I am forever grateful to Penang Hospice for coming into our lives at a time when we needed help most. When my mother was still alive, she used to tie my hair into ponytails for me. So it means a lot to me. However, giving away three years of hair will not be sufficient to give back to Hospice what it has given us.
Peter Tan: ‘I am forever grateful to Penang Hospice for coming into our lives at a time when we needed help most.’
“After my mum passed away, I vowed that I would do something for Hospice so that it could help other people who are in the same situation. However, disadvantaged as I am, I could not think of anything else except to shave my head to raise funds for them.”
Tan’s aptly titled Hair for Hospice campaign was announced on his blog, The Digital Awakening (www.petertan.com), earlier this month.
At the time of writing, Hair for Hospice has collected more than 50% of the RM5,000 target, and when the target is reached Tan will not be the only blogger who will be sporting the Kojak look. Four others – including one female blogger – have also pledged to go bald for the cause.
Tan’s effort is just one instance of an emerging trend in the rapidly growing blogging community in Malaysia – blogging for charity.
Through their vast network of blogs (also known as web-logs, or online journals), bloggers in Malaysia have been involved in several charitable activities, one of the most prominent being the worldwide Blogathon event on Aug 6.
On that day, bloggers all over the world stayed up for 24 hours to blog every 30 minutes non-stop to raise money for various charities. In Malaysia, the participants for the Blogathon were widespread and diverse in the charities they were blogging for.
Tan himself was involved with a collaborative blog called Bloggers are Morons, along with five other prominent bloggers, which eventually raised RM5,085.72 for Hospice. Another group of bloggers, which included young author John Ling and freelance writer Yvonne Foong, blogged to raise money for the Eden Handicap Service Centre.
Incidentally, Foong herself is the subject of another blogger charity campaign. Foong, who is a patient of Neurofibromatosis (an illness of the nervous system with no known cure), is raising money for her own medical fund by selling T-shirts through her blog (www.yvonnefoong.com), together with the help of several other bloggers.
To learn more about Tan’s campaign and for more information on how to donate to Hair for Hospice, go to his blog post at www.petertan.com/blog/index.php/2005/10/06/hair-for-hospice.