Hair for Hope is Children's Cancer Foundation (a non-profit for children with cancer and their families) signature fundraising event - the only head-shaving event in Singapore that serves to raise funds and awareness of childhood cancer. Hair for Hope is in its 13th year running this 2015. For me at least, the line really struck a chord as it encapsulated so many of my initial feelings upon stepping into the Changi Simei Community Centre Hall yesterday.
Every shaven head in Hair for Hope represents the understanding by an individual of the ordeals that a child with cancer is subjected to. By volunteering to shave, shavees become CCF ambassadors in helping to raise awareness of childhood cancer among their family and friends. It also provides an opportunity to garner support from the public in the form of donations. Having their head for a cancer charity as a way to give back and show their appreciation for all the things they'd been given while others are fighting to survive.
“散发希望行动” 是儿童癌症基金会的年度剃头筹款活动, 自2002年以来一直响应着号召，在户外或校内举办这意义重大的慈善活动，为患上癌症的儿童筹款、献出爱心。
“Hair for Hope" is a very large scale event that aims to raise awareness for childhood cancer and raise funds at the same time. Sometimes the act of shaving overshadows the true meaning for the event, but the shavees were reminded what they were shaving for. During the shavee briefing, we also tried to incorporate messages that we hope they will take home with them. They were not just shaving, but shaving for Hair for Hope and they were our advocates to help spread the message.
Egg-shaped heads weaved through the crowd, and I felt my eyes linger on the shavees among us for longer than I would have, which was strange because hair is something you do not notice until it’s gone. Appearances were something mentioned by most people, and although we would all like agree that “appearances don’t matter”, a young person without hair will likely receive all sorts of unsought attention and stigma on a daily basis.
Some people lauded the female shavees for their bravery, because for many girls a headful of long hair makes them feel more confident and beautiful, and even forms an important part of their gender identity. One of the ceremonial shavees, Angie (together with her husband, Mickey), she felt that it was a surreal experience but taking three years to make the decision has prepared her for “any prejudice or judgement that may come”.
Other ceremonial shavees were shaving too for a personal reason. No one doubt the sincerity of the organising team and the shavees. There are definitely other people who have had more personal experiences that inspired them to pursue this noble act. Either their families have been through this, or they know friends or relatives who have been through cancer first hand and then decided to shave. Some have stepped up by organising the event, and it’s because they feel the cause and find the reason to do it. I’m sure that among the people who shaved yesterday, there are those with stories to tell. But whether they shave or not is really up to them, because this is just one way of showing support.
There is something special about an event that dares to tackle an issue as difficult and deeply personal as cancer, and I found meaning in lending a voice to these touching stories which might otherwise have been left unheard. But something stuck with me long after I had left the community centre, and that is when I realised the answer to my question had been staring me in the face all that time. Taken at face value, courage is certainly indispensable for many of the shavees present. But you are not the Brave. It was not simply a stunt, because your act of shaving is a poignant gesture of support for the children standing against cancer, who may hold their heads up a little higher even if they lose their hair, who are not passive sufferers but people who have fought their hardest and are still fighting.
People think that shaving doesn’t directly help, but it tells children with cancer and their families that they are not alone in this fight. They may lose their hair in chemotherapy but we shouldn’t judge them by their looks. By shaving, we'll let them know that it is their inner beauty that counts.
I admire their spirit of bravery and kindness.
其中一名落发的志愿者是 Angie，她表示这将是自己一辈子难以忘怀的体验，也深信即使 “散发希望行动” 结束了，即使自己的头发再次长长了，自己却会一直给予癌童们精神上的支持，通过宣传让更多人与癌童们共同对抗癌症的病魔。
A freelance Singapore-based travel photographer / photojournalist. I seek the extraordinary, but finds beauty in the everyday. Life is interesting, capture it.
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