[Inspire] A Brother’s Story

20160227_091336Andrew Chong was one of the Ignite speakers during SENIA 2016. Andrew touched the hearts of more than 300 conference delegates as he shared how his brother Zhi Yaow enriched his life.
Read Andrew’s story in his own words.
With a skip and a hop, he’s at the door, waiting to greet us with warm hugs and kisses. This was every weekday, when my sister and I would arrive home from school, just 2 minutes walk away. Once every while he would exclaim, “Wow, next time I want to go to that school too!”
“Sure!”, I would say to my younger brother, “When you’re older.”
Sometimes I would have my friends come over after class. Mashing buttons on the Play Station and computer, kicking each others butts. We had sleepovers, we had parties, we had fun! And when goodbyes were said as my friends went home, my brother would come up to me and say,”Hey, next time I want to have my friends stay over too!” or “The next party, I want to invite my friends as well!”
“Sure buddy, sure ..when you’re older”, I would say every time.
And every single time it hurts, because that was a lie.

 Zhi Yaow just turned 18 years old, but he has never attended that school, nor has he ever had any friends come over.
You see, my brother was born with Down Syndrome, an intellectual disability that impedes mental and physical development.
20160227_090325As a family, we do our best to provide for him and make him happy. The things that he can enjoy are limited, but his wants are very simple. He likes to catch a movie or watch his favorite cartoons on a lazy Sunday. He enjoys pasta and pasta and pasta. He likes hitting up his songs on the iPad and singing along for hours! But most of all, he loves spending time with the family.
To him, we are his everything, his whole world. And as his elder siblings, he often looks up to my sister and I, eyes filled with admiration and pride. Hoping simply one day to… Be like us, be like his heroes.
In life, with all our possessions and wealth, it’s often that we begin to take most things for granted. Things like going to school, getting an education, getting a job, driving a car. Having friends to joke and laugh with, or even falling in love. These are all things that we expect to happen naturally, things that we aren’t necessarily thankful for.
But to someone like my brother, Zhi Yaow, these are things that he wants so much but may never have the opportunity to experience. These are privileges. Hopes and dreams of a little child. Hopes and dreams of my own brother. Hopes and dreams that I am powerless to grant.
Our message to you, fellow reader, is to be appreciative of the people around you, of the things you have. Cherish the bonds you hold and be thankful for the little things in life. Despite his disabilities, Zhi Yaow has never once seen the glass half empty. He has only ever lived a life of love and care. He finds his happiness in the happiness of others, especially his family.
Thank you, Andrew, for sharing your story. You are an inspiration.

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