It all started with a little red brochure …


A brochure slid across the table during dinner. It was a red brochure with the words ‘Puan Sri Kai Yong Yeoh Book Prize,’ written on it. I instantly knew that she was up to something as she had a gleam in her eyes. My mother explained that it was a competition for the children of YTL Staff and that it would be great if I could send in an application. I studied the brochure thoroughly. I thought that while it would be challenging to participate, the prize money would be a great help to the family.

Thus began my journey with the YTL Foundation. All I needed to do for now was to write a short essay. I chose to write about my parents. I never realised how much of an influence my mother had over my life; the things that you take for granted until someone makes you write an essay about it. It is interesting that I started to write an essay and ended up having a self-reflection about my relationship with my parents.

The judges of the competition must have liked my essay as I progressed to Phase 2. Phase 2 was a lot more fun and I had the opportunity to be hands-on and creative. I decided to create a video on something I was passionate about – easier said than done. I found myself lost in my own story, and I realised that the making of the video had opened up a part of me that had always been kept locked. All this while, I had credited the shaping of my character to my mother; however, the deliberate absence of a father had also played a role in shaping my character.

I worked hard. 750 photos and long sleepless nights were involved in the making of the video. I submitted the video and moved on with life. I got through my A-levels and decided to read Law. It was difficult for my mother as a single parent to provide for the school fees. We struggled, but managed.

That fateful day….

One day when I was in college, I received a phone call from my mother. Her voice was shaking and there was a lot of noise in the background. Through the confusion, she told me that I was the grand prize winner of the Puan Sri Kai Yong Yeoh Book Prize. More than winning, hearing the joy in my mother’s voice was what I held on to. My mother, whose heart was riddled with holes from the hurt inflicted on her by others in her life, was filled with pride and happiness. The outpouring of pride from her is something I still live for as a daughter. With the prize money, we paid off the debts we had while I was doing my A-levels.

That fateful day changed my life.

The journey continues…..

I was soon told that another perk of winning the book prize was a chance to get a scholarship to a good university. I was ecstatic. I couldn’t believe it! Not only was I able to pay off my debt, I had the opportunity to get a good education.

When I share with my friends in the United Kingdom that, “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the YTL Foundation”, I don’t think they take me very seriously. They wave their hands in dismissal at my gratitude. I believe there must be many who share my story, but I know that there are many others out there who are not as lucky either.

My being able to experience studying in the United Kingdom has been surreal. Waking up and realising where I am never fails to remind me of the gratitude I feel to God for giving me the opportunity to obtain a scholarship and to the YTL Foundation for taking a chance on me.

The YTL Foundation continues to be a huge part of my development by providing many opportunities for me to explore my abilities. The reassurance and confidence that the Foundation has given me, spurs me forward to achieve more than I ever dreamt of. The journey is hardly over. I hope to be a part of the Foundation’s vision of building better societies through better education.

Just imagine – all this just because of a little red brochure.