It’s truly special to witness fellow Malaysians making strides in accomplishing amazing feats and giving back to the community.
One Malaysian making a significant difference in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease patients is Sara L.H. Lew.
In June, Lew was presented with the WPC Robin A. Elliot Award for her service to the community at the 5th World Parkinson Congress held in Kyoto, Japan.
Her major contribution to Parkinson’s disease patients and caregivers in the past 24 years led her to be granted the award by the World Parkinson Coalition. Lew has been a part of the World Parkinson Coalition since 2012 and is currently sitting on its leadership forum committee.
Lew plays a major role in the Malaysian Parkinson’s Disease Association (MPDA) which was formed in 1994. It is the largest organisation of its kind in the country and for 10 years, it did not have a business premises for operation until Lew came along. She went the extra mile to help raise RM630,000 within six months to purchase the current premises in Taman Gembira, Kuala Lumpur back in 2014.
Lew remains humble giving much of the credit to MPDA. “The award was not just a recognition of my work but also MPDA’s”, she told star2.com.
Lew used to have a career in banking but left in 2003 opting to focus her efforts on other things such as furthering her studies and of course, MPDA. Her active involvement in the association hits close to home as her late father was diagnosed with the disease in 1990 at the age of 60. Lew’s aunt who is now 93 has also been living with Parkinson’s for the past 12 years.
She came to know about MDPA in 1995 after regularly accompanying her father for visits to the association. She was then elected president of MPDA in 2000 for a two-year term but when she was re-elected in 2006, she was initially hesitant as she had plans to further her studies.
She decided it was time for her to be actively involved in the association purely because she strongly felt the association and its activities such as support groups for patients had given her father hope.
In fact, her father’s journey with Parkinson’s has enabled her to develop a strong attachment with other patients – “My dad had a 21-year-old journey as a Parkinson’s patient. When I see a new member, the rapport starts. I feel I know him or her”.
Lew recognises some of the social stigma surrounding patients with Parkinson’s disease. She highlights how patients would opt to stay home and become anti-social as the disease progressed, limiting social interactions which in turn would leave them socially isolated and depressed. “With MPDA, my father was able to go to the association to socialise and share his experience with others”, she added.
Nowadays, Lew continues to devote her time to MDPA and counts her blessings – “While I do enjoy singlehood and have no regrets, I know life is good as long as I am healthy.”
Lew’s inspiring story and selfless act is definitely something the world needs more of!
*Featured image sourced from Star2.com