Sometimes, all it takes is one person who believes in you

For Lim Lei Seng, that person was social worker Ms Rachel Tan, who refused to give up on him even when he had given up on himself.

He first met Ms Tan when he began secondary school in 2001 and discovered Project CABIN*.

He recalls Ms Tan always being there, smiling and talking to the students who had dropped by. Project CABIN became Lei Seng’s safe haven, a place where he could relax and be himself. And when he was stressed or faced challenges in his studies or life, Ms Tan provided what he needed most – a listening ear.

When Lei Seng did well enough in Secondary 1 to be promoted to the Normal (Academic) stream in Secondary 2, Ms Tan was there at the Awards ceremony, cheering him on.

However, he soon found himself struggling to keep up with his peers. His self-esteem took a dive, and things spiralled downward from there. He lost focus in his studies and dropped out of school the following year, passing his days as a part-time waiter at a Chinese restaurant.

But although he had given up on himself, Ms Tan had not. She continued to reach out to him and encourage him. “Life is a journey where one has to go through many different obstacles,” she said. “Going back to school and getting a certificate is one obstacle that you have to go through.” This got Lei Seng thinking about his future. And eventually, it turned his life around.

In 2004, he was back at school and Project CABIN, where he found the acceptance and support he needed to push on.

Lei Seng went on to serve as the CABIN Club chairperson, organising school outreach programmes and participating in inter-CABIN programmes, where he continued to forge friendships.

Today, he is happily married with one son, and runs a successful food and beverage business in Singapore and Indonesia. He admits that life isn’t without its challenges, and that Ms Tan’s advice helps him as much today as it did all those years ago.

*Project CABIN is a secondary school-based drop-in facility which encourages the development of character and life skills.

Click here to read the story in Chinese.