The 2-year phone conversation that changed her life
A helpline caller searches for her phone counsellor 20 years later to thank him in person. Showing us how the words we offer can warm the soul, continue to resonate, and take root in others many years after.
Good advice often takes years to bear fruit.
As Thong Foo Kong has discovered.
He has volunteered as a hotline counsellor with Care Corner Counselling Centre since 1993.
Some 20 years after advising a young lady caller on relationship and work-related issues, Mr Thong had an unexpected reconnection with her.
Elaine Lee, now married with children, left home at 18 years old to work in Singapore. A foreigner on unfamiliar soil, she found comfort and confidence in speaking with Mr Thong over the phone.
“I missed my family,” Ms Lee explains, referring to that period as “the lowest point” in her life.
But no matter how down she was, she always felt heartened and hopeful after their phone conversations.
“He encouraged me to upgrade myself,” Ms Lee adds, which spurred her on to take night classes after work.
It was a phone conversation that spanned across two years, and in that time, though never having met, Ms Lee was extremely grateful for their talks.
Grateful enough to start a search for Mr Thong many years later, as she felt she needed to thank him in person.
Her gesture has touched Mr Thong deeply. He had never imagined that anyone would try to contact him after so long. Nor did he expect to receive such gratitude.
He quotes part of a Chinese saying, “A kind word can warm (a person for) three winter months.”
A counsellor’s words stay long after they have been spoken, explains Mr Thong, and this advice can take root in a person’s life at any time. He wishes his surprise encounter with Ms Lee will inspire others to volunteer with the Care Corner hotline.
And in turn, Mr Thong’s kindness will live on in future generations, as Ms Lee ensures her children learn the importance of helping those in need.