A Living Hope
She may be a well-respected global entrepreneur, socialite and philanthropist but it is the passion in serving the poor and needy that runs deep in Dr Peggy C Wong. This noble trait of hers came as no surprise as she hails from a family of philanthropists. Her passionate interest in the welfare of children has brought joy and happiness to many young lives. The well-known and affable philanthropist shares with Top 10 of Malaysia her background and her endeavours.
The world of the underprivileged children is one of hardship and despair – a vicious cycle that many who are caught in it are powerless to counter. It is a world that is alien to most of us from the comfort of a middle-class upbringing. But it was such a world that touched the heart of Dr Peggy Wong and moved her to be a blessing to underprivileged. Believing steadfastly that blessing others is a blessing in itself, Dr Wong has focused on helping the poorest of the poor children in the rural areas. She believes that a little kindness in the form of food, books and supplies would go a long way to alleviate their suffering and to change the course of their lives for the better.
Coming from a family that believed in giving back to society and helping those in need, Dr Wong is no stranger to starting and managing charitable causes as it runs in the family. Her grandfather, Chan Min San, an Imperial scholar was involved in the Chinese medicine sector. “Without fail, he would feed the poor and unemployed who came to our doorstep. The cook was given special instructions to cook fresh food for them,” says Dr Wong. Free medicine was distributed to those who were sick. This tradition was carried on by her father, Chan Chee Kheong, an entrepreneur and politician.
Dr Wong, a well-accomplished global entrepreneur and author, started off doing charity work by raising funds for an elderly home while working in a multi-national bank in Singapore. She found her calling in helping the needy then and there was no going back since. When she returned to Malaysia, Dr Wong involved herself in raising funds for the victims of major calamities that included the Kosovo War and the Asian tsunami. “I have been positioned in between those who need help and those who can help; between the poor and the rich. It is a divine calling,” she says. Rumah Hope, where she was actively involved for seven years,was an established home for the underprivileged by the time she left as a vice-president.
From 2007, Dr Wong’s initiatives for helping needy children have expanded by leaps and bounds. To date, an estimated number of 41,000 children have benefitted. Her endeavour in seeking out the poorest of the poor exposed her to a variety of challenging environments including that of boating amongst crocodiles while reaching out to isolated Sarawakian communities. In May 2007, Living Hope, a company-sponsored corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative (which later became a non-government organisation in 2012) was launched with the mission to be the voice of marginalised children within Malaysia and internationally.
The concept of Living Hope was to assist parents who are financially deprived to take care of their children. The intention was not to take over the role of parents but to assist them instead. “We seek out the really marginalised, the poorest of the poor. There are so many children out there who are living without the very basic food and educational facilities. Providing them with these basic necessities of life especially food and education will, to a good extent, help fulfil the physical and social needs of these children. Access to education is an extremely important platform as it will lead many of them out of this vicious cycle of poverty and despair in the longer term. We have to help them at this stage in their lives” she says.
Programmes such as the ‘One Egg One Child” and “Educate a Child’have been implemented to help the children. The former programme involves the donation of a daily egg for each selected child whereas the latter involves the donation of educational supplies and uniforms. The supply of food and other necessities is channelled through a programme called, “Channel of Hope”. The “Festivities on Wheels” programme brings cheer and joy for the children during festivals – an emotionally rewarding and enriching experience for Dr Wong and her Living Hope team.
The selfless contributions in helping the needy have gained Dr Wong domestic and as well as international recognition. In 2002, she was conferred an honorary doctorate in Social Sciences by the University of Honolulu. Domestic recognition followed in 2012 and 2014 when she was awarded the “Woman of Vision” philanthropy Mutiara Perak award by the Perak State government and the Woman of Excellence Award for her outstanding achievement in social and community services.
Educated at University Malaya and Harvard University’s Owner/President management programme and as the CEO of the Keray Group of Companies, Dr Wong is an equally accomplished speaker and author of seven books. The Balanced Life and Soar like the Eagle have become best sellers and she is actively involved in the Kiwanis Club, Speaker’s Club and the Corporate Roundtable.