Red Cross Memories: Wan Fook Kum

I helped set up the Red Cross Unit in Raffles Girls School in 1952. In 1963, I was a teacher of Bukit Merah North Primary from 1963 to 1979. In the 1970s to 1980s, I was trained in Junior First Aid, Standard First Aid and Proficiency First Aid. I recall that I served under nine Directors.

One of my memorable experiences was having personally attended to late President Yusof Ishak when he came for Red Cross events. As a member of the Red Cross Youth Advisory Committee, I attended the Asia Pacific Red Cross Directors Conference in South Korea in 1973, a conference in Bangkok on HIV and the visit by the Princess of Thailand to open the Asia Pacific Youth Camp in 1985. I hosted the Red Cross Youth Exchange in 2008 and was part of the delegation for the Teachers’ Study Trip to Vietnam National Red Cross in 2009.

I was also involved in providing aid to survivors of local disasters. I strongly recall the cable car accident in January 1983: A ship’s sail cut off the aerial rope of a cable car. Two cable cars dropped into the sea. Seven people died after they fell into the sea. Two Red Cross Ambulances transported people to A&E.

I also provided psychosocial support to families affected by the Hotel New World collapse in 1986. Hotel New World was four storeys high. In 1986, they were trying to add two more storeys to it when it collapsed. Many were traumatised. The owner, watchman and banker died. We went to console the families of victims by providing psychosocial support. At the mortuary, we handed out biscuits and coffee to those who have lost their family members in the disaster. We mobilised officers, two or three at any one time. Among others who were also mobilised were Uncle Kek and Mr Tang.

I initiated exchange programmes with Malaysian Red Cross officers where they would come to Singapore for one year and we would go to Malaysia the next year for a 5-year programme in 1966. We also started cadet exchange programmes with Malaysia and Thailand to get experience before organising the Asia Pacific Youth Camp in 1985. I was the Chairman of that camp and the Guest-of-Honour was the Thai Princess who was the Patron of Thai Red Cross Society.

I was also involved in the Aceh disaster to help to send supplies needed.

I was the delegate leader together with an adult teacher, two volunteers and a few students when we travelled to Iwate Province (Japan) for an exchange programme in 2005 or 2006. We helped to raise funds when there was a nuclear disaster in that area.

I’ve also encouraged my daughters to join Red Cross Youth. My children were in Red Cross Youth unit in Raffles Girls Primary and Raffles Girls Secondary. They would sit in one corner for the whole afternoon. One of my daughters is now a Law Lecturer at SMU and the other is working at an investment company.

They would sit at a corner during the weekends reading while I attended meetings or doing administrative work in the Red Cross as at that time there was no full time staff involved in the Youth Department.