Joe Tan
Ex-Army Regular
Corporate Sponsor:
Jia Foundation
Singapore Association of Mental Health

Who are you? Tell us a bit more about yourself!

Professionally, I’m a soldier. I believe in serving for a cause. For 11 years I have served the nation, leading soldiers, and in my capacity, make a difference to the defence force, ensuring the safety of my loved ones, and the sovereignty of my nation.

Socially, I’m a free spirit, avid traveller and a writer. I enjoy traveling alone. To sit at a local café at a random country, people watch, chat up with locals and strangers alike. I find inspiration from these, to reflect, write and thereafter, share thoughts to others in a hope to incite reflection within them too.

In short, I believe in living for the moment, and experiencing life as it comes.
I take actions because I want to make a difference.
I speak up because I believe in making a chance.
I give because I genuinely want to.

What’s your story? Tell us about a life-changing incident.

In 2012, I was deployed to Afghanistan as part of SAF’s efforts in the reconstruction of peace the war torn country. During my deployment, I had the privilege to converse with many soldiers from various countries. From them, I hear stories of their lives, struggles and how some of them, have sadly seen their comrades leave them in the line of duty. True enough, during my 5 months stint, I too had to sadly bid farewell to 7 soldiers from the coalition countries. As I watch each of them being sent off, back to the safe arms of their family, who they will never get to speak and touch again, it dawned upon me how vulnerable life is, and at the same time, make me realise how lucky I’m. To be able to live in a country as safe as Singapore, to have a shelter over my head, food on my table every meal, and clean water at the switch of a tap.
It was then I realise how I have taken my life for granted, and that I’m already very fortunate in life, no matter how much struggles and challenges I face.

Upon my return, it became clear to me that it was time for me, to give back to the society.
That was when Love Action Project was born, 3 months after I got back, on Feb 13.

Why 50for50 and why now?

I was referred to 50for50 by one of my volunteers from Love Action Project. Subsequently, I had a conversation with the representation (Rebekah), and found the purpose of the movement aligned with the vision and values of Love Action Project.
I think the deciding factor was that both parties wanted to make a difference to the society as whole. And our vision was also to engage younger volunteers, allow them to interact and subsequently plant the seeds of charity in them. To provide them an avenue to give, grow and pay it forward thereafter.

What gets you up in the morning?

Knowing that I have a purpose in life, and that whatever I do, be it writing, working or even at play. To find happiness in what I do knowing that I can make a difference or create a change, in my limited capacity.

Why this cause out of so many causes?

We would like to create an event to generate awareness and educate the society on Mental Health Illnesses. We wish to support the integration of mentally ill individuals with the society through proper education.

Any experiences with charity or non-profit work before?

We have been operating as a non-profit movement since Feb 13. Till date, we have conducted four events involving up to 200 volunteers, and raised up to $4000 worth of sponsorships. The process has benefited not only the target audience, but also volunteers alike, who have along the process, been mentored by us, and given the autonomy to run certain portions of the events under our guidance.

What kind of change are you looking to bring about as a changemaker?

Aligned with our vision, we seek to create three changes:

1) To provide a platform for fellow young Singaporeans to step forward to showcase their talent through charity. To increase their exposure, while doing good work for the society.

2) To plant the seeds of charity in them, to nurture and develop them into responsible and compassionate individual to the society. To share with them that, even though they progress in their respective life journeys, giving should always remain a part of it.

3) To raise awareness for our cause. To give, and give unconditionally. To also allow fellow volunteers to interact, share ideas and hopefully generate more initiatives along the way. To breakaway from the traditional mindset of giving and to modernise the way charity should be conducted. Be it through creative thinking or leveraging advanced technology. We want to create change, and these youths are the catalyst towards us realizing it.

What is your big idea on how to raise funds for 50for50?

We have adopted Singapore Association For Mental Health (SAMH) as our beneficiary. The concept would be a carnival type event, involving youths, companies and leveraging heavily on technology. (1) Interactive education boards to educate visitors, (2) Mobile apps to allow public donation and registering to be a volunteers, (3) Photo booths to encourage sharing on twitter (Hashtags), instagram and facebook to generate awareness of the event and cause, and 4) Game booths (company or volunteer youth groups) and live entertainment (by aspiring artists) to bring about modern day carnival atmospherics.

We hope to raise up to $150,000 for SAMH and of course, generate enough awareness to alter social perception of mentally ill individuals, and gather more volunteers to support SAMH’s causes in the future.