Volunteer Reflections: Dorothy Lim

When looking for healtchare related volunteer activities, many would usually apply to old folks homes, voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) or hospitals. I was probably one of those who tried to find volunteering opportunities in such places but failed to receive replies. Perhaps they had more than enough volunteers? Thankfully, after A Levels, I had the privilege of coming across the APHN.

As a volunteer, I get to engage in a myriad of activities. I was tasked with the responsibility of sieving out articles to be posted on the website, as well as creating a video for the Asia Pacific Hospice Conference. While helping out in responsibilities, I get to learn a lot more through reading news of palliative care around the world. I even had the chance to sit in a talk about Advanced Care Planning!

I also participated in events from one of APHN’s member organisations. At a day­ hospice that admits patients who have less than 6 months to live, I found myself nodding continually for an hour while speaking to an uncle. As he spoke, he held my hand firmly, telling me stories of his daughter. I could not fully comprehend all he said, but I was touched at the heartwarming gesture of him holding my hand. I was also given the opportunity to test my spontaneity where I had to organize impromptu games for a birthday party. It was a little overwhelming when I thought about how each of the patients in the party is already aware that this may be their last birthday celebration. But this was also what made the volunteering experience so much more meaningful – it made me want to offer my best to each patient that I interact with.

Prior to volunteering for APHN, I knew nothing about palliative care. What piqued my interest and eventually led me to volunteer is the fact that it helps to reconcile the limitations of medicine. Despite medical advancements today, medicine ultimately reaches its limits when no cure is available. During my time volunteering, I gained greater insight into palliative care. I feel that I have gained much more than I would if I have volunteered in other VWOs or did attachments in hospitals. I have matured as a person, relooked at my view towards death. Ultimately, I experienced first-hand what it really means “to cure sometimes, to relieve often and to comfort always. 

As cliché as it sounds, I definitely received more than I gave. I would really really recommend all juniors to volunteer with APHN!!! Just remember to go with an open mind, and you will gain immensely from the experience.

Dorothy was accepted into National University of Singapore, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine in 2015

Article edited by APHN Assistant Manager, Joyce Chee

Published on: 31 March, 2015 | Last modified: 20 June, 2023