Going BOTAK for a Good Cause

Hair is our crowning glory and some of us might cringe at the idea of a bad hair day, or (gasp!), parting with it. However, Agnes Chandra, considered it a natural choices to shave off her hair, to raise funds for the Children’s Cancer Foundation (CCF).

Agnes Chandra

Agnes Chandra

The Managing Director of Greenburry Holdings Pte Ltd, who is in her 50s first knew about CCF 15 years ago through her god-sister, Tricia who was actively volunteering with them. As Agnes was raising her kids and managing her family business then, she was unable to commit fully to CCF. This did not deter Tricia from sharing stories of the children and bringing them to Agnes’ home. Agnes recalls that she felt privileged getting to know the children personally and being able to bring joy to their lives.

Her heart for children is evident, as she shares with me how she is currently helping to raise funds and awareness for childhood cancer under Hair For Hope, a signature fundraising event by CCF and the only head-shaving event in Singapore (in its 13th year now) that serves to raise funds and awareness of childhood cancer. Hair For Hope 2015 is taking place on 25 and 26 July this year.

Shiok (S): What motivates you to contribute to their cause?

Agnes (A): I love children as they are priceless treasures to their parents and they are the future. It is truly heartbreaking to see their innocent and happy faces being marred by the turmoil and pain, brought on by cancer. As a parent, I can fully relate to the heart-wrenching pain that each child cancer victim’s parents would feel.

Apart from the usual donations I make throughout the years, I wanted to do more and spend time with them and be there for them till the end of their journeys.

Hair For Hope has been one of the major events by CCF. At this point of my life, I felt ready to reach out to the public to create awareness and raise funds for the cancer children by being a Shavee.

Shiok (S): How have you raised awareness for your fundraising effort (at time of interview, Agnes is one of the highest fundraisers so far for her Hair For Hope pledge)?

A: I have always been donating to different causes but frankly, this is my first time going into fund raising, as in rallying for donations. I tap on my network of friends and a few of my business associates. I’m very lucky that a few of my close friends have gone all the way out to rally for me. And I am also very fortune to have met new friends that are very supportive and helped to spread the word through social media platforms to create awareness.

Through Hair For Hope, I hope to increase public awareness that there are children as young as two years old and above suffering from different types of cancers, mainly bone marrow cancer. During cancer treatments, young children or teenagers might feel frustrated and cannot comprehend how it leads to hair loss. By being a shavee, it is also my way of letting the kids know that I empathise with them so they will not feel alone.

Agnes Chandra with cardboard collector lady

Agnes Chandra with cardboard collector lady

Shiok (S): What challenges did you face along the way?

A: The most difficult part was convincing my friends that I am shaving my head to help raise funds. As I have not been very active in my social circle for many years, it is challenging to reach out to my friends.

I had a few friends telling me that I need not make a ‘sacrifice’ by going bald to help the children. They advised that I could just donate or help in other ways. I’m personally amused by the word ‘sacrifice’. From the moment I decided to shave my head, I have set aside any concerns on my appearance and mentally prepared myself for stares or comments by onlookers. I am merely doing what my heart tells me to.

Shiok (S): Apart from Hair for Hope, what other causes do you support?

A:  In recent years, through another friend, Winnie Cheong, I came to know of Willing Hearts, the soup kitchen. The needy and the elderly are social issues I’m involved in now too. I started to help out in the kitchen by preparing, packing and delivering the food. I met quite a few of the senior volunteers who actually inspire me to be more active.  These folks are really amazing and selfless.

Shiok (S): Despite your hectic schedule, you manage to find time to volunteer at Willing Hearts and run your fundraiser. How do you manage that?

A: Thankfully, I have full support from my husband and three grown-up children. It is the love for children and my passion for humanity that gives me the determination to persevere even when the going gets tough. In fact, I am already planning my next project after this Hair For Hope event. I have plans to set up schools and provide an education for children in Siem Reap.

Shiok! is honoured to support Agnes’ pledge and Hair For Hope. She has been selected to be the first shavee to officially open the ceremony of Hair for Hope come 25th July 2015 and the shaving will be carried out by a minister guest of honour.

You can support this meaningful cause by visiting https://hairforhope.org.sg/shaveeProfile/3950.

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