SINGAPORE (10 February, 2022) — After completing his Masters in Business Administration at the age of 31, Alvin was looking forward to a brighter future. In an unexpected turn of events, he was diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disease and went into a coma. After being comatose for 26 days, he finally awoken, only to discover he had lost his sense of sight.
“I was a very independent person. After losing my sight, the most challenging thing was not being able to go out on my own. This caused me a lot of anxiety and depression. Most of the time, in fact, all of the time, I was in darkness,” shared Alvin.
In 2012, Alvin met Seretta, a Labrador-Golden Retriever from Australia, who would train to become his travelling companion. Together, they would become Singapore’s second-ever guide dog team to graduate from Guide Dogs Singapore Ltd (GDS). She would empower him greatly, providing not just sighted guidance, but emotional support.
Having reached 10 years old, the universal retirement age for guide dogs, Seretta will take on her new role as a beloved house pet. However, this means Alvin will need a replacement guide dog. For the next month, GDS is launching various initiatives in a concerted effort to raise $150,000, which will enable them to bring in and train guide dogs for three more visually-impaired clients.
Each donation will be amplified by the Tote Board’s Enhanced Fund-Raising Programme, which provides a dollar-for-dollar matching donation. This means every donation by the public will make twice the impact – a $100 donation will contribute $200 to the campaign. Physical cheques and cash donations made to this campaign between 3 February to 31 March 2022 will also qualify for this.
“Guide dogs give people with visual impairments a priceless opportunity to lead independent lives. We rely mostly on donations to fund our work, and every dollar brings us closer to pairing our clients with a guide dog,” said Vanessa Loh, General Manager, Guide Dogs Singapore Ltd.
It costs about $50,000 to fully train a guide dog and pair them with a client, with whom they will work for seven to nine years. Currently, there are six clients on Guide Dogs Singapore’s waiting list.
GDS has released videos over the past months that aim to raise awareness to the role guide dogs play in our society, as well as inviting groups to interact with guide dog owners, among other initiatives. Follow Guide Dogs Singapore’s Facebook and Instagram pages for past stories.
Members of the public who wish to support this campaign may make a direct donation at https://www.giving.sg/gds/nggd2022 to empower visually-impaired clients towards the more independent lives that they desire.