Lessons on gratitude and resilience from 82-year-old cleaner uncle with walking stick

uncle ming

“Today, uncle Ming taught me about gratitude, contentment, and resilience. He wants to lead a dignified life and fend for himself, instead of relying purely on aid.  His gratitude heart rose above all adversity and nothing destroyed his optimistic view of life. Uncle Ming, thank you for being my teacher,” Ms Lee Siew Yian wrote on Facebook.

The sight of Uncle Ming ‘with a walking stick, holding onto a wet cloth, and cleaning the tables’ got Ms Lee emotional.

“There was no one to watch him, and he just works quietly.”


Seeing him like this, she went over to ask if she could chat with him.

Uncle Ming agrees, so they sat down at a table he had cleaned.

Cheerful with a sparkle in his eyes

Despite his difficult circumstances, Uncle Ming remained cheerful and optimistic and had a sparkle in his eyes despite his failing eyesight.

Ms Lee learned that Uncle Ming is 82 years and has no children. He lives with his wife who suffered from kidney problems and needed dialysis weekly. He works as a cleaner which pays $1300 a month. He can’t ride a motorbike anymore due to mobility restrictions and poor eyesight. He takes a to and from work every day. This comes up to $300 a month.

Government schemes for elderly

Ms Lee told Uncle Ming that there were schemes for the elderly that he might qualify for. There and then, they sat together and googled for the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s contact (MSF- 1800 222 0000).

“The hotline was quickly answered and an officer spoke to us and requested for his personal information,” Ms Lee shared.

The officer assured them that a social worker will follow up with Uncle Ming.

Before leaving, Ms Lee asked Uncle Ming if there was anything he needed.

He replied: “I am ok, just me and my wife, we have enough and the mosque gave us rice every week.”

Lessons on gratitude, contentment and resilience

Ms Lee shared that while Uncle Ming’s job was ‘by no means a sensational one’, what makes him extraordinary is his ‘inner fire and resilience’. Instead of relying purely on aid, he wants to lead a dignified life and fend for himself. His heart of gratitude rose above adversity and ‘nothing destroyed his optimistic view of life’.

‘Please do not politicise this post’

Last but not least, Ms Lee appeals to readers not to politicise her post on Uncle Ming.

The post is about the lessons that she learned from Uncle Ming.

The post is also about how to help a stranger in sustainable ways. Many elderly folks are unaware of the many grants available to him. We can help by simply applying for them and have the agencies reach out to them, Ms Lee said.

She also pointed out that we need to recognise that for some folks, working is a choice and there are those who reject support or any form of assistance. So it is important to get the full picture before we comment.

Read also  Singapore must shed the protectionist mentality, here’s why.


On Key

Related Posts