Kok How, 73, demonstrates just what it means to be a lifelong learner – he’s been registering for educational courses like Hanyu Pinyin (Mandarin phonetics) lessons, just for the fun of it! “I never got to learn Hanyu Pinyin when I was younger,” he explains, “So now I want to learn all that I can.” These courses are just one of Kok How’s pastimes; he dedicates much of his time to his work at GoodLife!, a voluntary organisation that trains seniors to be community health volunteers.
As an Angel Ambassador for the organisation, Kok How works closely with the staff to conduct regular home visits to other seniors to keep track of any health conditions, such as high blood pressure or cholesterol levels. But Kok How wasn’t always free to volunteer for these duties. Prior, he ran a bakery at Old Kallang Road – for 30 years!
In fact, long-time residents of the area might find Kok How familiar. His bakery specialised in all kinds of cakes and breads, but his favourite pastries were festive favourites like pineapples tarts for Lunar New Year, and mooncakes for Mid-Autumn Festival. The long hours and fatigue led him to close shop after many years of business; it was a sad occasion, but this opened up more time for him to pursue other interests.
Kok How may be busy taking lessons and volunteering, but he still finds time to meet up with his primary school buddies for karaoke sessions – he considers it one of his favourite pastimes. Singing keeps his mind active, he says: “It’s important to keep using our brains at this age. Singing requires practising, so I am forced to memorise the lyrics in the process!”