Fung Lee Jean, 53, Laughter Yoga Teacher, Director of My Pharmacy
When you spot “Sunshine The Clown” in her job description, you know instinctively that Fung Lee Jean is no conventional pharmacist.
Recipient of the 2009 Pharmacist-Entrepreneur of the Year award and founder of the highly successful chain MyPharmacy, Lee Jean believes the prescription for wellness should include “a hearty dosage of joy, happiness and laughter.”
In her mission to bring joy and happiness to those she is in contact with, she is dedicated to spreading the healing benefits of laughter yoga, a revolutionary exercise that combines unconditional laughter with yogic breathing.
She first stumbled upon the novel concept while searching for creative activities to add positive vibes to Breast Cancer Support Group meetings, of which she was an active member. Intrigued, she enrolled herself in a session conducted by its founder Dr Madan Kataria in Melbourne.
Greatly motivated, she set about sharing her newfound knowledge, starting with her hometown Johor Bahru. To this end, she has registered a club called the Johor Bahru Happy & Joyous Club.
She reveals that her long journey into holistic well-being actually began with a life-changing programme called Money and You in 1999. The new entrepreneur, who left a successful stint with established names to set up her own pharmacy, was struck by several epiphanies. “I realized the importance of work-life balance. I learnt to go with the flow and not to take life and money seriously.”
She took in partners to help her run and expand her business, which freed her to spend more time on her growing passion for wellness.
Before she met Dr. Kataria, she marvelled at those who could laugh heartily either at jokes or while watching comedies. But, after the training, she was convinced that people can laugh for no reason at all. “Even fake laughter gives us the same physiological benefits like good hormones,” she explains.
She attests that the benefits of laughter go beyond the physical. “I’ve seen how shy housewives, who once dared not speak in crowds, are now confidently leading yoga sessions. There is a strong element of self-development as well as developing other people.”
“My aim now is to have as many laugher yoga leaders all over the country to spread laughter to the people.”
From primarily residential areas, she hopes to spread this concept to the rest of Malaysia. “City people need more laughter,” she says. Her wish-list includes starting a laughter session in an lrt coach!
Her motto is as contagious as laughter. “Cultivate an attitude of gratitude, curiosity and lifelong learning. Laughter is still the best medicine as it is healthier and cheaper.”
Datin Dr. Lela Yasmin Mansor,53, Chief National Transplant Procurement Manager & Donor Coordinator, National Transplant Resource Center, Hospital Kuala Lumpur; Senior Consultant Anaesthesiologist
Even doctors are uncomfortable about broaching the subject of organ donation. As Dr Lela Mansor puts it, “Here they are grieving over a loss. How can we take from them?”
So witnessing her speak about the subject is an eye-opener. “Every single day, I personally witness to people donating and bear witness to the beautiful human spirit wanting to help others when they themselves have lost so much. I get nurtured spiritually every time every time I meet a donor family. I can tell you regardless of race and religion, people give.”
What began as a job for her has evolved into a calling. Beyond saving lives, she has witnessed how the whole process of organ donation can be restorative. “Nothing is going to make losing your loved one worse. Talking about the person and reminiscing about the person’s goodness can add positivity to what a very negative experience. We must present the chance to the family members, opportunity to carry out the person’s wish.”
With 180, 000 pledgers - less than 1% of our population - Malaysia’s organ donation rate lags far behind much of the rest of the world. It’s worrying, because “as our population lives longer, organ diseases and health problems like diabetes – one of the main causes of kidney failure – are expected to rise, creating even greater demand for organ donations.”
Some blame this on Malaysia’s opt-in policy, whereby a family must give express consent (as opposed to opt-out, or presumed consent, in countries like Singapore, Spain and Kuwait).
Dr Lela has a different view. “I believe in giving rather than taking,” she explains her stand. “The giving must be with blessing. Even if somebody has signed up as a donor, in the event the family objects, we’d rather say no. I never believe in imposing. Neither do I say, you must donate. Whether people donate or not is their right. Just because you don’t doesn’t make you a lesser or not a good person. Thank them and don’t leave them with guilt. Grief is already bad enough; they don’t need more guilt to be landed on them. ”
Dr Lela believes the primary reason for this low rate is fear stemming from lack of knowledge about organ donation. “People don’t talk about it enough. In order to be sustainable, we must get it to the level where people can talk about it openly without fear. It is important for organ donors to inform their family members of their wishes when they pledge to donate their organs. Not to do anything is not allowing the donation to happen whereas that person may not have any objection.”
“Malaysians, like every other human, have an innate longing to help others. It’s our fears and prejudices that keep this instinct locked. As doctors, it is our duty to disseminate the right information and cultivate this sense of compassion.”
Associate Prof. Dr Nik Hazlina Nik Hussain, 49, Associate Professor at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM); Head of Women’s Health Development Unit, School of Medical Sciences, USM.
The prospect of chronicling Dr Nik Hazlina Nik Hussain’s remarkable list of achievements is intimidating.
The widely published author, obstetrician and gynaecologist, and medical researcher has dedicated more than 21 years of her life to improving the quality of life. As generic as that may sound, it’s probably the most fitting description considering the remarkable breadth and length of her work, which runs the gamut from the esoteric - research in reproductive endocrinology and sexual health, traditional and complementary medicine and feto-maternal medicine to improve patient care - to on-ground work - providing medical check-ups at a remote immigration detention camp.
Service to the community is second nature to the doctor, whose clinical career is matched by a strong track record of research and advocacy. The Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia alumnus has been involved in many activities at various levels as a lecturer of obstetrics and gynaecology department or as associate lecturer to the Women’s Health Development Unit as well as associate lecturer for School of Health and Allied Sciences, Health Campus, USM. Though she still runs a fertility augmentation clinic once a week, Dr Nik Hazlina has focused more on promoting health awareness and training young medical personnel in the last two years.
As a Kelantanese, she hopes to raise health awareness levels in her home state, where women have the highest HIV statistics in the country. “There is insufficient awareness of health matters as well as their rights as wife. With proper information, they can take appropriate precautions and protect their lives.”
As part of her outreach strategy to disseminate correct medical information to the public, she frequently conducts public talks and workshops, develops worldwide linkages to enhance the dissemination of life-saving medical information, and writes books and media articles, including a women’s health column in a popular newspaper.
As a mentor to young medical trainees, Dr Nik Hazlina advocates holistic personal development beyond academic excellence. To develop their creative skills, she encouraged her students to be her co-writers for health books - to date, already five books have been published by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, she shares proudly.
She believes strongly in involving her students in events that require them to interact with the public, notably the Community Family and Case Study (CFCS) program which won the prestigious “Moreira Award” in 2003 and 2011, because “learning how to deal with, be close to, to show concern for, and to educate the public is a big part of a doctor’s life.”
How does one woman cram so much into 24 hours? Her formula is simple: “Love, enjoy and share your work. We can climb the steepest hills with determination. Start with a slow and steady pace and let the momentum propel us forward.”
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