Defined by dreams, not disabilities

Defined by dreams, not disabilities

With the right preparations, life’s twists and turns won’t slow your life or aspirations down.

Defined by dreams, not disabilities
Four remarkable individuals rise above disability and turn their challenges into dreams. Photo: Great Eastern

2020 has taught the world that the unexpected can always take place, and one event could change your life completely. As Singapore’s population ages, disability rates increase. According to findings from the long-term impact of functional disability on hospitalisation spending in Singapore, one in six Singaporeans over the age of 50 are considered disabled, while one in two currently healthy Singaporeans could become severely disabled in their lifetime and require long-term care.

Besides being caused by accidents, disability can set in as a result of complications arising from chronic diseases such as diabetes or medical events like a stroke. Even an impairment in cognitive function like dementia can decimate one’s ability to perform any of the six activities of daily living (ADL): Washing, dressing, feeding oneself, using the toilet, being able to move around indoors, and moving independently from a bed to a chair or wheelchair, or vice versa.

Finances can be severely impacted by disability, especially if one requires nursing care, placement in a healthcare institution, or long-term treatment and medication.

In addition to the financial woes and physical impairment caused by disability, there is another burden – the negative impact on mental health. When the affected person believes that he can no longer achieve his goals or participate in society due to disability, he may feel feel like a burden to his loved ones and fall into depression.


On the bright side, views regarding disability have changed positively in recent years. Singaporean society is becoming more inclusive. As of last year, nearly three in 10 persons with disabilities who were of working age were employed, and companies have increased their hiring of people with disabilities with the help of government schemes and tech resources that help bridge the ability gap.

Adequate insurance is also an essential resource, as it can help cushion the financial impact of becoming disabled and provide financial assistance for long-term care and rehabilitation.

People with disabilities can continue living life on their own terms, as shown by these four inspiring individuals of the #Lifeproof Crew, who have come together for a music video called Undefeatable to showcase the power of their dreams, and the depth of their resolve in pursuit of them. 

The grit and determination of the #Lifeproof Crew show us why they are undefeatable. 

Melvin Ong, director

Mr Ong used to be a freelance video technician and cameraman – as well as a musician – before suffering a spinal cord injury last July.

He said that he felt “destroyed … physically and mentally” when he realised he was unable to do the things he used to enjoy.

With the support of his family, Mr Ong held on to the belief that as long as there was some light in his life, he had to hang on. Since becoming wheelchair-bound and semi-bedridden, Mr Ong has continued to be creative, running his own apparel business Green Spell, and directing the #Lifeproof Crew in Undefeatable.

“I never thought that I would get a chance to work with a production crew again,” he said. “It brought back memories and reminded me what working hard and playing hard meant. Working with three other talented persons with disabilities (PWDs) to pull off such a feat was a crazy experience.”

Zoe Zora, set designer

Ms Fathima Zohra, who goes by the name Zoe Zora, described the shock of becoming disabled as “extremely traumatising". She explained: “My body felt like it didn’t belong to me anymore.”

Despite this, she was determined to soldier on. “I trained my body every single day to be able to do more. Being able to help others like me kept me going.”

Besides being a model and stylist, Ms Zora works as a programme manager for an inclusive running club.

“I want Singaporeans to know that PWDs are people first, before our disabilities,” she said. “We are not what happened to us.”

She described the experience of creating Undefeatable as a dream come true.

“It was one of the first times I felt like my disability won’t stop me from achieving my dreams,” she shared.  

Sophie Soon, violinist

National paralympics swimmer and violinist Sophie Soon has cone-rod dystrophy, a progressive condition that results in vision loss.

She said: “I’ve spent my life adapting to my vision and finding different ways to complete my everyday ordinary tasks.”

Today, Ms Soon wants to “achieve as much as I can”, listing her goals: To become a paralympian, to complete her violin diploma, to be married and raise a family.

In the meantime, she found her time spent on the Undefeatable set to be both exhilarating and rewarding.

“This project captured the message that ‘differently abled’ doesn't mean ‘unable’.  There's so much we can offer, sometimes even more than what an able-bodied individual can accomplish,” she said.

David Aitabir, visual artist

Mr Madanlal Aitabir, better known as David, is a tattoo artist who is inspired by his craft. “I feel this art was always inside me. It was like a hidden passion that I’ve had all along,” he said.

When he became a paraplegic, he cried every day. “It felt like the end of the world. But I slowly learnt that I had to help myself before anyone else could help me.”

The same independence that fuelled his art kept him going. With the support of his wife, children and therapists, Mr Aitabir eventually recovered faster than doctors had predicted.

“I want people to know that they are never alone and nothing is impossible. You just need to believe in yourself and have faith. I hope the music video will be able to motivate others and let them know there is always hope,” he said.


Defined by dreams, not disabilities
The Great CareShield could potentially provide financial assistance for long-term care and rehabilitation. Photo: Shutterstock

Great Eastern’s Great CareShield offers two different plans – the Advantage and Enhanced plans – to suit different needs and budget. The plans offer early disability coverage for added peace of mind. 

When mild disability – defined as being unable to perform one of the six ADLs – occurs, Great CareShield Advantage pays an initial benefit of three times the monthly benefit –  up to S$15,000  after the deferment period. This benefit may be payable again upon the full recovery of the life assured, thus providing the same coverage for subsequent episodes of mild disability arising from a different cause. Additionally, future premiums are waived for as long as the life assured suffers the disability.

If one is unable to perform two ADLs, his condition is defined as moderate disability and monthly benefits of up to S$5,000 begin to be paid out, after the deferment period. 

When it comes to premiums, Great CareShield’s level premiums mean that one can take advantage of lower premiums at a younger age, thus maximising coverage without having to pay increasing premiums as they get older. Premiums can be paid for in cash, with one’s own MediSave funds or the MediSave funds of family members, providing greater flexibility.

Find out how to live #Lifeproof against future disabilities with Great Eastern’s Great Careshield.

Terms and conditions apply. Protected up to specified limits by SDIC.