My name is Chou

By Yeow Chern Chou

September 2002

If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live.

If I can ease one life the aching, or cool one pain, or help one fainting robin unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain.

Hi, Ladies & Gentlemen, My name is Chou. The Yeow Chern Chou.

Reading the biographies of people was one of my favorite past times when I was a child. Went through the life of Marco Polo and his trip to China. Sailed through the life of Christopher Columbus and his epic journey to the Indies. Struggled through the footsteps of Mohamad Ghandi. But of all the great people that I have come across, one person stood out - His name is Albert Schweizer.

A German by birth, Albert Schweizer was an accomplished musician, theologian, philosopher as well as doctor. Moved by the need that he saw in Africa, Albert set out his goal to set up hospitals for the sick in Africa, amidst great opposition from his family members.

Setting foot in Africa, he began building his work as a doctor, healing the sick. He also built hospitals to house the lepers of the African continent. When finance became an issue, Albert would give concerts around Europe to fund his hospital project in Africa.

I remember laying there on the bed one day, after going through his biography, thinking Wow! What on earth would propel a man to leave the comfort of his country, his well-paid career as a musician and a University Faculty member, to come to a humber continent as Afriace and be with the sick?

Surely an extraordinary man I thought, and from then on, he became my model.

He became my idol. Inspired by such a role model, I set out myself to be a doctor.

My passion with Life Science and Human Beings went well with my plans of becoming trained as a physician one day. But things did not turn out that way as life goes. During my "A-levels", I struggled with schoolwork, with concepts that seemed to escape my grasp. And the result was a poor show in the final exams. I tried, but in vain I tried, to apply to schools around the world for a place to be trained as a doctor. I was discouraged and disappointed when all doors seemed slam shut on me.

Medicinsan Frontier, the Doctors without Borders, the group that I have planned to join, the group that brought hope and healing to the people out of reach, became then more a dream, and illusion that was not meant to be. That was 1990.

But my passion for Life Science and Human Beings did not leave me.

Before long, I was contemplating a career that would bring me closer to patients, even though i cannot be a doctor. Toyed with the idea of a physiotherapist, a respiratory therapist, a nurse etc ...

Then one day, I did a tour in a hospital, and realized that it was not the place I thought it was. There was smell everywhere. There was fear. There was an air of death.

The patients won't clean, nor were they pretty. There was little interation that was present between the therapist and the patients.

Many a times, the patients were either unconscrious, or too sick to talk. Unable to help themselves, i smell excrement. I saw death. It was a distressing sight!

I was discouraged, and disappointed with myself this time, for my inability to tolerate the sight of the sick and diseased.

Perhaps I wasn't the saint I thought I was. That was 1994.

But my passion for Life Science and Human Beings did not leave me.

Unable to be someone in the frontline of the healthcare industry, I thought, does not eliminate me from supporting the mission to heal from the sidelines.

Armed with a degree in Mircobiology, I set out on a career in Biotechnology and Pharmeceutical Technology.

In this industry, everything is clean. No smell. No death.

My knowledge, my training, together with my urge to find and produce therapeutic drugs propelled me towards a field where the battle against diseases was just as intense as the hospitals.

The race was there to understand the enemy, the micro-organisms that rack havoc around us. There was urgency to know, to pry oepn the mysteries behind our bodies, and the process of disease we call it pathogenesis.

There is a great sense of mission. And with those understandings, we advance with the search for the weapon against the enemy. Those are the exciting things that Biotechnology brings. It brings healing. It brings relieve. Just as doctors do.

Its been 8 years now since I step foot in the Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical industry. I am glad. I am fulfilled. I am contented with where I am.

Some things never change. My passion for Life Science and Human beings, they have never left me.

To stop one heart from breaking and to ease one pain ......

My name is Chou, the Yeow Chern Chou, and I will not live in vain.