What does it take to craft a legacy that sticks? Deborah Chan moved from the corporate world to the Cambodian countryside with her family in tow – all in the name of educating, helping, and raising hope for village children. We catch up with the change maker to talk about her new book, Live to Last.
Q: At what point did you decide to drop your job in Kuala Lumpur to head to Battambang with your husband and son – was it a sudden strike of an idea, or was it mulled over a while? How much planning for the foreseeable future did that take?
A: It wasn’t an overnight decision – that’s for sure! We had put a lot of talk, thought and prayer into it before making the big crazy move. We realised that our life is too short to waste just living for ourselves and there was a need outside of our corporate circle that we can help meet. Plus, we just had a baby, and as crazy as it sounds, we needed to up our game and live our lives so that our son can model after – even at a young age. We drew up a budget for a year and set out to fundraise the amount and within months, we had enough to last us a year.
Q: It’s usually the last thing on anyone’s mind to bring a toddler around for holidays, much less uprooting your life and head right into the rural countryside of Cambodia for 2 years. Was it always a no-brainer that one-year-old Seth would come along as well?
A: The rule of thumb is that if we make a major decision, it has to be mutually agreed on, and since it’s a mutual decision, everyone in the family’s in! At that point, it included little Seth. We were going as a family.
Q: How did STORM (Short Term Operation Relief Mission) come about – what was the process like, gathering intel and resources for the volunteering program?
A: Before Cambodia, we’ve both been going for short term rural community development trips annually since we were teenagers – so STORM was a cinch. We knew the life-changing possibilities a short trip like STORM can be for youth and we wanted to be that channel of change for the next generation.
A day trip to the zoo with our village kids over the weekend. They woke up super early, squeezed into a couple of vans, travelled 3 hours out, vomited on the way because of motion sickness… but despite the long and trying journey, they sprang out of the van when they arrived at the zoo and was ready to explore the place. A rare treat for this bunch and it was absolute fun sharing in their excitement. #lokkawi #sabah #starfishfoundation #community #childrensdayout #spreadjoy #sharelove
Q: To date, is there anything you regret doing (or not taking the chance to do) in your life?
A: Honestly, no. I consciously live out each day thinking that it may be my last (not in a morbid sense!), but with a consciousness to live each waking moment to the fullest, to be 100% present with everyone and everything that I’m gifted with.
Q: The idea for Live to Last came from your time in Cambodia. What are your plans for the future, and will we be expecting a second part to this memoir?
A: Haha! No pressure! But hopefully a second memoir will come around in due time – I need to first live it in order to write it. Stay tuned!
Grab a copy of Live to Last at MPH, Times Bookstores, or online at www.livetolastbook.com
Learn more about STORM at http://www.livetolastbook.com/storm/