Yuogan has lived in the Singapore Boys Home since he was 8. Never having had a house to call his own, he now dreams of settling into his own place. Amid challenges at school, he is not giving up.
Yuogan was born deaf. He was placed in the Singapore Boys’ Home when he was 8. It was under special circumstances after his father was deemed unable to care for him. He has stayed there ever since, going on 14 years now.
Yuogan was only 3 when his mother died in a tragic car accident in 2001. Unable to accept the loss of his wife, Yuogan’s father drank and smoked excessively, resulting in a lung disease. When he was 8, his father was also diagnosed with depression and was admitted to the Institute of Mental Health.
Growing up without both parents and being deaf meant he had to fend for himself. Thankfully, he had his teachers and friends from the deaf school to encourage and support him. “You would think I was bullied at the Home, but I was not picked on. In fact, my best friends are from the Boys Home, as well as from the deaf community,” he says.
He toughed it out, becoming resilient as he worked through the challenges of school with the aid of interpreters from The Singapore Association for the Deaf (SADeaf). “My humble achievements would not have been possible without the support of SADeaf (Singapore Association for the Deaf), as well as my teachers from the deaf school,” he shares. “They gave me a sense of direction and helped me achieve every little milestone and goal in my life. SADeaf supports my learning by providing sign language interpreters and notetakers. These services are important for me to access the content of the lessons,” he adds.
At lessons, lectures and even group discussions, a SADeaf’s interpreter would convey what was said in class in sign language, while the notetaker typed it out. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, they attended his classes; since the Circuit Breaker, they have continued to do so during video-based learning calls. During this period, he stayed in constant contact with his friends from SADeaf and the deaf school. “The social interaction is a great support and motivation for me,” he comments.
Yuogan initially studied Facility and Technology at the National ITE Certificate (NITEC), with the aim to become the first deaf person to succeed in the air-conditioning and refrigeration industry. Pragmatically, he switched to studying IT network and systems at higher NITEC at ITE East because his original courses were not offered at that level there.
Similarly, he is taking the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing circuit breaker in stride. “There hadn’t been much impact on my learning when we transited to home-based learning. Much of it is online. When I have questions, I would send my teachers a text. When there is more complex content, the teacher will do a video demonstration,” he writes.
He prefers in-person lessons because of the interaction he has with teachers and peers. “I feel that is important for me,” he said, but he’s not dwelling on what he can’t have. Instead, he’s focused on his long-term goals.
“Having my own place is my long-term dream. I am taking one step at a time,” he said. “I’m currently in higher NITEC and I want to focus and do well for school and then move on to polytechnic and maybe the university in the future. With a good education, I can better brace for the future and earn a good income. With that, my dream will definitely come true.”
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Photos by: Bryan van der Beek | Words by: Serene Goh
In partnership with What Are You Doing SG, a platform capturing the stories of people in Singapore, their challenges, collaborative nature and problem-solving spirit.