I have overcome the darkest period in my life, thanks to the compassionate touch of a stranger.

Life was tough in Philippines. My family struggled to make ends meet and I had difficulty getting a job. That was when at the age of 21, I decided that it would be better for me to work overseas.

I came to Singapore through an agency in Philippines which had secured a job for me in a nursing home. I was looking forward to the opportunity as the pay was higher and I could provide a better life for my family.

I was feeling very excited with this new chapter of my life as the plane touched down at Changi Airport. However, when I saw the ‘visitor pass’ stamp in my passport, I knew I had been scammed. The agent that picked me up at the airport claimed she did not know anything about my job and was simply told to bring me to a shared room where I could rent a bed.

It was my worst nightmare. I couldn’t bring myself to let my parents know what had happened as they had used up their life savings to pay for the job which did not exist. I was overwhelmed with hopelessness and fear, knowing that my parents’ hard earned money had gone down the drain. Even though the odds were slim, I spent all day and night searching for a job, browsing through the classified ads and approaching random shops, asking if any of them was hiring.

By the end of a week, I had almost used up all of my money. One day, after a long day of job hunting, I returned to the rented room only to find out that I had been kicked out and my belongings were left outside the door. It was the lowest point of my life. With neither friends nor family here, I found myself walking aimlessly and had to spend a night in the nearby park.

In desperation, I prayed to God for help, and amazingly, I encountered big-hearted strangers who reached out to me. The park was popular with domestic helpers bringing children out to play. Some of them heard about my plight and brought me food. One Filipino helper even risked her job by offering me a place to stay for a few days. This was followed by a kind elderly man whom I had met at an employment agency. He learnt about my situation and although he didn’t have a suitable job, he offered me his home to stay in for as long as I needed.

Eventually, I found a job in a restaurant as a dishwasher. I worked hard and was soon trained as a cook. The owner liked my performance and wanted to promote me to a Chef. However, my happiness was short-lived as my work permit was not approved, despite multiple appeals.

Fortunately, I soon found an agency which connected me to a nursing job at All Saints Home. I was at All Saints Home for 6 years before I joined Jurong Community Hospital in 2017. There, I had a renewed sense of purpose, caring for elderly patients. Although the job is demanding at times, I enjoyed interacting with the elders. I was glad that I had the opportunity to build and hone my nursing skills and pick up new languages.

I believe the tough life experience has played an important role to prepare me for my current job and make me a more empathetic nurse. Having been on the receiving end of unexpected kindness, I know that there are always good people around who are willing to lend a helping hand to strangers. This has changed my perspective in life and contributed to the person I am today. As a nurse, I will actively look out for patients who have no visitors and pay special attention to their needs. Just like those who have graciously opened their homes to me when I had nothing, I want to make a difference to my patients by extending care from my heart.

The obstacles I faced have also made me more resilient. Instead of being weak and giving up easily, I have become a stronger and more motivated person. On tough days, I am always reminded by how I have overcome the darkest period in my life, thanks to the compassionate touch of a stranger. I have faith that tough days do not last as there are angels around us.

It has been a long but rewarding journey. Today, I am proud to say I am happily married with a lovely wife and 2 sons!
Mark Joseph Molina Tagulao

About Ng Teng Fong General Hospital & Jurong Community Hospital

The Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH) and Jurong Community Hospital (JCH) are members of the National University Health System (NUHS), a leading academic health system and one of three public healthcare clusters in Singapore.

Known as the JurongHealth Campus, NTFGH and JCH are Singapore’s first integrated healthcare development designed and built together from the ground up. Designed around the patients’ needs, the twin development enables NTFGH patients who no longer require acute care to be easily transferred to rehabilitate and recuperate in JCH. Both hospitals are also managed by one healthcare team to facilitate integration at all levels to enable better patient care, greater efficiency and convenience. NTFGH is also the first in Singapore and ASEAN to attain HIMSS EMRAM Stage 7, with JCH at HiMSS EMRAM Stage 6 – an achievement which recognises hospitals with the highest level of adoption and utilisation of electronic medical record functions.

As part of an integrated academic health system, NTFGH and JCH, in collaboration with partners in the healthcare continuum, aims to transform healthcare to deliver holistic and seamless patient-centred care.

For more information, please visit www.ntfgh.com.sg | www.jch.com.sg | www.nuhs.edu.sg

Delivering ‘Incredible care and health, together!’