Dr Jazmyn Chelliah

Some are born with it whereas others achieve it. In Dr Jazmyn Chelliah's case, she was certainly born with the fierce passion to help others, especially children. Growing up witnessing the numerous social services performed by her parents which ranged from helping labourers to chairing the St Johns Home for the Aged, this passion was nurtured and eventually led to Dr Chellia herself achieving renown as a pioneer who was responsible for the founding of several voluntary organizations such as Children's Cancer Foundation (CCF) and Club Rainbow.

Upon learning  that children were being  discharged untreated due to financial issues, Dr Chelliah was spurred into setting up CCF. One of her main motivations was to ensure that no child gets left behind since children may be more hesitant and less vocal about seeking help. Besides financial assistance, CCF also helps needy children in other ways like purchasing wigs and organising activities for children in hospital.


Starting up these organisations whilst working full time was certainly demanding but Dr Chelliah pushed through, determined to make it happen. Thankfully, Singaporeans were supportive as well and  the organizations never lacked  volunteers.

“If your heart is in it and you have the willpower - with your heart and will, you can do almost anything”

Despite the challenges and struggles faced, overall it has certainly proved worthwhile, which is illustrated by  Dr Chelliah's heart-warming recount of a young man whose life she had unknowingly touched when he was younger and now when he had grown up, had come back to continue the cycle of giving.

Dr Chelliah certainly looks back with pride at the organisations that she has helped develop grow from a concept to become well-established and proficient voluntary organisations. She feels that it is encouraging to see the government actively engage with and contribute to the welfare organizations, but feels that it could do even more. At the same time she acknowledges that imposing a mandate that the government should help VWOs is a complicated issue with no simple solution.

“He says he’s not rich, but he’s got enough to think about others as well.”


As a teacher, Dr Chelliah felt that it is important for teachers to truly make a commitment to the students. She strongly believes that students are most responsive and willing to improve when they see the effort put in by teachers and when they realise that their teachers really do care about them.

Dr Chelliah also feels that if someone is to instruct others, that person must first wholly understand the subject to enable others to understand it as well.As such, whilst lecturing at teacher's college and feeling out of touch with the current mind-set and circumstances of students, she indicated that she wished to go back to teaching students to refresh herself. Although she was assigned to a reputable school, Dr Chelliah changed  her posting and  went on to teach at a local neighbourhood school instead. She also chose a specific class  in that school which was particularly troublesome.

"Can I hug you?”                                            

One thing that is undoubtable is that teachers and schools have a great responsibility and play a critical role in shaping children’s’ lives. Dr Chelliah especially feels that children should be encouraged in whatever they are good at, be it mathematics or sports, which will help in developing students’ self-esteem. However, as the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, thus the onus of development cannot lie with the schools and teachers alone. It is critical for parents to work hand in hand with the school, especially in today’s society where both parents work and children often spend longer hours at school than at home.

Hence, it is even more important than ever for schools to inculcate the right values in youth, particularly the spirit of voluntarism. Dr Chelliah knows the important role played by the teacher in this implementation process. If they were to treat this as just another duty to be done and gotten over with, the whole point of the exercise would be missed.


"You can’t make rules about these things; it has to come from the heart”

In light of Singapore’s upcoming 50th birthday celebrations, Dr Chelliah would like to remind Singaporeans that while we are indeed blessed to enjoy wealth and economic prosperity, we should also never forget the basic human values of kindness and helpfulness and should reach out to others in need while at the same time acknowledging others who do. Echoing her sentiments, we at 50Faces would like to thank Dr Chelliah for all her contributions and for helping so many who might not have been able to help themselves.


A dedication to the pioneers in the Indian community.

50Faces brings your stories of ordinary Singaporeans who have contributed to our community and nation building.