Finding strength to carry on

“My son was the only reason I got out of bed every morning. He was my only cheerleader. Even when he was lying on the hospital bed.” - Jimmy Ong

JOHOR BARU: A father who once gave up on himself after encountering a series of setbacks, including the death of his son, has found new meaning in life.

Jimmy Ong, 58, now shares his experiences to encourage others to treasure their lives and stay strong to break through obstacles.

The motivational speaker was confident as he spoke to about 100 people at an event jointly organised by the Full Gospel Business Men Fellowship Malaysia and Anglow here recently.

Nobody would have believed that this upbeat middle-aged man had once given up on himself.

When asked about his past, Ong said he became unhappy after losing his company during the Asian financial crisis in 1995. He was declared insolvent.

“I had to take up various odd jobs just to get by.

“My wife and I got into arguments over money matters, and divorced in 2000,” he said.

Ong added that he was granted custody of his son, Shaun, while his daughter remained with his ex-wife.

Just as Ong thought he had hit rock bottom, his son was diagnosed with brain cancer.

Shaun died in 2004 at the age of 11.

“That was the final straw. My son was the only reason I got out of bed every morning.

“He was my only cheerleader. Even when he was lying on the hospital bed, he was cheering me on and giving me his best smiles.

“Eventually, I was left with no one by my side and no money,” added the Singaporean, who lives in Malaysia.

Ong said he started drinking to forget his troubles.

“I really did not know what else to do. Everything was meaningless to me.

“I went on like this for about a year until I was arrested and put behind bars for one night due to drink driving,” he said.

It was then, behind bars, that Ong began to reflect deeply on his life.

“I knew he (son) would be disappointed if he saw me in such a mess.

“I remembered all the promises I made to him, like quitting smoking, working hard to buy a house, and loving my parents.”

“So, I told myself that I must do something to change my life,” said the motivational speaker with over 11 years of experience.

Ong said he found a job and rebuilt his life to fulfil all the promises he made to Shaun.

“I encourage and help those with similar plights to stand up again, just like me,” he said.

Ong has since remarried. He has two children.

In his calling, he has reached out to almost 8,000 convicts at Singapore’s Changi Prison.

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