Separated from his parents when he was five years-old, Ming* had no one else to turn to but himself.
He went through a rough childhood and was often bullied in school.
Feeling depressed, defeated and hopeless, Ming (not his real name) questioned the meaning of his existence in life at age 16.
However, the determined youth persevered as he knew there were more to be accomplished and got back up on his own two feet to work towards his dream of getting an education in Japan.
The resourceful teen took to the internet to quench his thirst for knowledge about the Japanese culture and language for which he had a strong fascination in.
He learnt the Japanese language on his own when he was in Form Two and continued to do so till he completed his SPM some three years later in 2015.
He saved every sen he could from his post-SPM job at a local Japanese restaurant and finally enrolled at a language institute in Tokyo, Japan to pursue higher education.
To fund his monthly living expenses and study fees, Ming worked as a waiter at a Japanese restaurant and took up odd-jobs.
The grit he has developed over the years amazes me, says child therapist Priscilla Ho, who worked with Ming during his “low” times.
She shares that Ming even gave a talk to a group of his juniors in his school to help them move on in life, before he left for Japan in October last year.
“He asked them what they are fighting for, what is holding them back, and what are they going to do about it, to get them thinking about their future,” says Ho.
Fast forward to today, the gritty youth who is now 19 years old, is waiting for his interview to be admitted into a university in Japan by the end of this year, after emerging as one of the top students in the language school.