Fed, Clothed, Accepted and Cared For

A Personal Message from Dr. Henry Pillai

A Message From Dr. Henry Pillai

I have lived more than 50 years of my life witnessing pain and suffering from the multitudes of people living among us as the poor and those we term as the unfortunate.

As a child, I’ve been sent to live with one family to another with a small bag of belongings. I was fed with leftovers from the dining table, and I was never good enough to be treated like the other children who experienced love, acceptance, and security.

My life was changed when someone took the time to reach out and helped me to see that God loves each and every one of us unconditionally. I have dedicated my life to helping others.

A turning point came in 1972 as I was just a young man when I found a sickly old man resting at the front gate of my rented home in Klang. When he saw me, he held on to my feet, and begged me, “Promise to bury me and I will let go.”

I was shocked to see his desperation to ask of this from a stranger. I do not know what had led him to my doorstep that day. I took him into my home and gave him a bath, food, and a bed. I then took him to the nearby Klang General Hospital so that they could provide much needed surgeries for his cataracts and wounds in his leg. This man lived for a few more years. When he passed away, I buried him as I had promised.

Other poor, elderly, and destitute folks began to reach out for help.
Many of those who turned up were old women in their 70s and 80s with very sad stories. In those days, it was common for young girls to be brought over from China to work as nannies for wealthy families in what was then known as Nanyang (then Malaya) or Singapore. When they arrived here, these girls were little more than children themselves but they had to labour day and night as servants. When they grew old and could no longer work, they were abandoned to fend for themselves.

These old women, living in a Chinese Cemetery, had no homes or any savings, as they were literally enslaved to the families they had helped to raise when they were brought here. Do we as a civilised society abandon them too? Or do we extend a hand to them in any way we could? The stories that these women have shared with me, of the abuse and beatings and suffering they have endured for their entire lives since they were children had never faded for me.

I started Grace Home as a shelter for destitute women in 1980. It was the first of such homes in Malaysia at the time. But one need led to ever more needs that I continue seeing in our community to this day. As I opened more homes for different people, the need for a stable source of food came, so I started a Food Bank.
As we spent more time on the streets, sitting, eating, talking and living with those who are rejected, abused, hurt, and homeless, we will see and understand their needs. We always look upwards to keep up with others, but seldom do we look down on the streets to see the people who have fallen down through the cracks.

My vision for a caring society is where the hungry are fed, the naked are clothed, and the rejected are accepted and cared for. To me, a great nation is not measured by the number of millionaires or billionaires, but in the absence of the poor.

I thank you for taking the time to read this, and I hope you would lend a hand in any way you can to support these people in our society. Your care makes a world of difference to those who need help the most.

Dr. Henry Pillai Signature
Dr. Henry Pillai
Founder and Chairman of Grace Community Services