A Chit Chat Cafe, a Choir and a Garden Club are Enriching the Lives of Persons with Aphasia

What’s your story?
I am the founder of Aphasia SG, a non-profit organisation that supports persons with aphasia and their caregivers. I’m also a practicing speech and language therapist who specialises in working with adults with neurological deficits. Aphasia is a communication disorder that affects individuals after a stroke, head trauma, brain tumour or infection. 

As a clinician, I understand the profound impact aphasia has on the lives of my patients and their families.  Since November 2018, I have been organising monthly pop-up cafe sessions called “Chit Chat Cafe” as a platform for patients to interact. Today, this ground-up project has evolved to become Aphasia SG. 

What excites you most about your industry?
Community healthcare is a sunrise industry. As our population in Singapore ages, there will be a growing demand for services and programs offered by Aphasia SG. 

What’s your connection to Asia?
Well, I am an Asian with a true-blue Asian palate – I can’t live without sambal and chilli padi!

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Aphasia SG is homegrown, and serves a Singaporean audience, to date, so I can’t comment on this question. 

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Less talk, more action. Be the change you want to see in the world. 

Who inspires you?
I’m inspired by Denise Phua, the Mayor of Central Singapore District. She is a local politician who has single-handedly changed the disability landscape in Singapore with her advocacy work, especially for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families. 

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I found out how polyglots around the world learn new languages from the TED Talk “Lydia Machová: The secrets of learning a new language.” There are some principles in language learning that anyone can follow. Lydia herself is proficient in 9 languages without ever living abroad or in a multilingual environment. Mind-blowing stuff! 

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have learned about investments at a younger age so I could have made my money work harder for me over the years.

How do you unwind?
Hanging out with friends and playing word games like Scrabble.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
It’s a toss-up between Bali and Krabi. Both places have lovely beaches and people – what’s not to love? 

Everyone in business should read this book:
“The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” by Malcolm Gladwell. I remember being blown away by the concepts defined by Gladwell. A very easy read and is applicable across industries. 

Shameless plug for your business:
Aphasia SG is the first and only non-profit organisation that organises community programs for persons with aphasia and their caregivers, in Singapore. We are expanding our current suite of programs (Chit Chat Café and Aphasia SG Choir) to include an Aphasia Gardening Club and many others. Our activities are entirely volunteer-run and are free for patients and caregivers. If you are keen to volunteer, please email: [email protected] Visit www.aphasia.sg or follow @AphasiaSG on Facebook and on Instagram to find out more about our programs and resources. 

How can people connect with you?
LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/evelyn-khoo-799766166/
Or email: [email protected]

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connects’ series of more than 500 interviews

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Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder and CEO of MBH Corporation PLC. He is the author of three best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’, ‘Agglomerate’ and ‘Entrepreneurial Investing’.

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