So This Is My Why | Issue 4

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Hey STIMYers!

Welcome to Week 4 of the STIMY Newsletter & today’s a pretty special one as we have Chong Chan-Yau, STIMY’s very first blind guest!

STIMY Ep 25: Chong Chan-Yau (On Life as a Blind CEO)

Chong Chan Yau - CEO & Co-Founder of Carboncare Innolab Hong Kong, President of Hong Kong Blind Union

What really caught my eye about his story wasn’t his physical disability, but how he overcame them.

The activist spirit he showed since going blind at the age of 6, where he was determined to challenge society’s conventions. To show society that despite being unable to see, he could do the same as their sighted peers.

Education

One of his first & biggest challenges? Pursuing further education.

In school, Chan-Yau recalled writing an essay saying he didn’t want to be a telephone operator. His teachers told him was being “too unrealistic” & used his essay as an example of someone who was overreaching.

His own blind peers laughed at him, telling him he shouldn’t be studying when he could already be earning money as a telephone operator or fortune-teller!

“We are the best people who know the solutions to our problem. We are not the problem themselves. We are the solutions.”

– Chong Chan-Yau, CEO of CarbonCare Innolab

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Achievements

But Chan-Yau ignored his detractors, and went on to, among other things:

  • become one of the first blind persons to attend the University of Hong Kong (where he made a successful petition to the Hong Kong government to provide equal opportunities to the blind);
  • complete his Masters at the London School of Economics;
  • became the Director of Fundraising at Oxfam Hong Kong; and
  • is now the Co-Founder & CEO of CarbonCare Innolab, a climate change NGO that promotes youth advocacy!

Highlights

We discussed many things in this episode, including:

  • 3:49: Going blind at the age of 6
  • 7:37: Why it took a year for his family to decide to let him attend a specialised school for the blind
  • 9.28: Learning Braille
  • 12:03: Being rebellious & doing things that other people thought they couldn’t do (like playing football!)
  • 16:04: Aspiring to further education
  • 25:10: Entering the University of Hong Kong as one of its first blind students
  • 27:07: Petitioning the Governor of Hong Kong to provide more equal rights and opportunities to blind people
  • 33:35: Becoming Hong Kong’s first blind government administrative officer
  • 34:48: Why he joined Oxfam
  • 36:06: Developing the monthly donor base for Oxfam Hong Kong from 3000 to over 100,000
  • 39:47: Developing Oxfam rice & why rice was the medium chosen
  • 42:07: The development of rights of the blind in Hong Kong
  • 44:48: Founding the Dialogue in the Dark Hong Kong
  • 46:40: How employers can create a more inclusive workplace for the blind
  • 48:31: Entering the climate change space

P/S: Sighted” is how the blind refer to those who can see, which gives a whole other dimension to the way we lawyers tend to say “we have not sighted this document” 😅.

You can listen to Chan-Yau’s episode in full on: , , , ,

Looking for past STIMY guests that are defying society’s conventions/making the world a better place for everyone, check out:

  • Ep 1: – an Australian wildlife vet who has dedicated her life to protecting wildlife, whether it’s in Australia, South Africa, Thailand (at the World’s First Elephant Hospital or elsewhere
  • Ep 9: – an amazing Nepali social entrepreneur who works with Nepali indigenous communities (including the nomadic Raute tribe!) in selling their gorgeous handicraft to people around the world.
  • Ep 22: – A Sarawakian sape player, visual artist & heritage advocate who has made it her life mission to preserve & promote her indigenous roots

Renyi Chin is a Malaysian F&B entrepreneur who runs the highly successful – and innovative! – burger joint, MyBurgerLab, as well as MyPizzaLab. Listen to find out how his summers in Yellowstone influenced him to pursue a career in the F&B industry!

Upcoming STIMY Guests

  • : One of Malaysia’s top radio business hosts & producers, moderator, x5 book author & emcee on her #duakerja (translated: 2 jobs) life

Enjoyed this newsletter or have a comment? Email sothisismywhy(at)gmail.com 

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Stay tuned for tomorrow’s update on my favourite app of the week!

Ling Yah