Thursday August 16, 2012
Blind community loses friend in Francis Chan
WHEEL POWER by ANTHONY THANASAYAN
Francis Chan Chen was loved by one and all for his cheerfulness and readiness to help others.
THE blind community lost a dear friend last week. Francis Chan Chen, 64, passed away last Monday in Kuala Lumpur, while having a short afternoon rest.
Francis touched many hearts throughout his life. A close friend, Yam Tong Woo, recalled how Francis had helped him to accept his disability when the former became blind four years ago.
“Adapting to the world of the blind was not easy as I struggled to find my way around, learnt to read Braille and adapt to life,” said Yam, 58.
“I first met Francis at a nearby coffee shop during a training session break,” said Yam.
“Francis’ favourite was kopi oh kau (extra strong black coffee). He was a good talker and was always cheerful. I could talk to him about virtually anything under the sun,” said Yam.
Yam went on to say that Francis was blind for most of his life, but this did not stop him from reaching out to others who needed help.
“His unselfish, caring attitude inspired my wife and I to become actively involved in helping the blind community.”
Francis would often visit the blind to see how they were coping with life. He was always ready with advice and suggestions on how the blind could overcome obstacles and live with their blindness. He loved to introduce the blind to one another. He believed that they could learn from one another’s personal experiences with disability.
The ever-versatile Francis could speak a number of languages and dialects such as English, Mandarin, Hokkien, Cantonese and even Tamil. He drew people to him with his jovial nature and jokes.
The blind community loved his hand-made braille calendars. He took pains to include important dates for the blind, school-term breaks, religious festivals and state holidays.
“He used to give me Braille lessons. In turn, I taught him to use the computer, and he learnt to read e-books and use his laptop to play his favourite CDs and DVDs,” said Yam.
Upon his retirement from the Malaysian Association for the Blind some years back, Francis became a part-time massage therapist.
His love for travelling has taken him to Australia and Vietnam. Francis enjoyed talking about his travels, including an unforgettable experience standing on the ridge of a cliff in Hanoi, and looking out to Hainan Island across the sea.
During a trip to Australia, an officer at the immigration counter remarked: “You come to Australia ‘to die’ (today) and Francis quipped: “No, I come here for a holiday.” That’s Francis for you! He leaves behind his wife, Cecilia, and daughter, Patricia.