The Women of Choo Yilin (#WOCYL) interview series features women of note who share words of wisdom on what it means to flourish as a woman in the 21st century. Each of our interviewees have created their own unique legacies and are sharing insights into their own lives with the aim of helping other women discover for themselves, what their personal legacies are.
Dr Jade Kua is a Consultant with the Department of Emergency Medicine at KK Women's & Children’s Hospital and President of the Association of Women Doctors, Singapore.
We meet Jade on a Tuesday afternoon, in a bright airy bistro called Kaiserhaus at Capitol Piazza. The café has gorgeous white light, and Jade appears unfairly bright-eyed and naturally made-up even after leaving the hospital at 2:30 am.
Wearing a beautiful, locally-designed white dress that she proudly mentions has been with her through many milestones including her last pregnancy, she talks to us about the themes that drive her to become the best version of herself.
Dr Jade Kua on…
I’m drawn to vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly. Many children don’t have the means to fully verbalise what ails them when they come into the Children’s Emergency and I feel the responsibility to understand what they themselves may not.
With the elderly, it’s about accepting them for who they are and meeting them at their level without judgement. Volunteering at the Henderson Senior Citizen’s Home is a family tradition; my father volunteers there and now I bring my children to help out at the Home.
It can be emotionally challenging to treat very sick children, especially when they are the same age as my own children. Nonetheless, I have to steel myself against being emotionally caught up with the situation as I am less effective if I break down. I tell myself that I am not there as a surrogate mother; I am there to be the patient’s clinical advocate and I need to be effective in what I do.
I get upset when I see patients in the Children’s Emergency due to accidents that could have been prevented. This is one of the reasons why I am passionate about injury prevention programmes involving road safety and swimming pool safety. I also believe in raising the health literacy of laypeople so that they can provide effective and early first aid. This is a big part of the work I do as the programme director of Dispatcher-Assisted First Responder (DARE), which seeks to equip Singaporeans with the ability to perform CPR, an invaluable skill should emergencies arise.
As a mother, I want my children to be proud of what I do and in turn make their own authentic contributions to society. They join me when I volunteer and we jointly donate to charities that champion causes that they are genuinely interested in. When they are financially independent, I hope that they continue with this legacy to make it a family tradition, such that the older children make joint donations with the younger ones.
I love incorporating elements of our heritage into everyday items. The furniture we use daily includes antiques that have been in our families for generations and weathered wars. When I run my hand along the old rattan rocking chair, I think about conversations with my late grandfather. The quilts my children use are put together with clothing that they wore when they were babies alongside batik prints from their great-grandmother.
I’m at a stage of my life where my style is inspired by my heritage and who I am as a wife (I married a man who is proudly Peranakan!) and mother. I often look for heirloom pieces that I can pass to my children, and their children. I’m enchanted by the stories behind stones, how they evolve from being rocks buried in dirt in the ground, to being polished and set into decorative prized possessions. I don’t know if it is the science or the art of stones that enchants me more!
I’ve known Yilin since the brand started in 2009 and love how the brand has evolved. What makes the brand distinctive is that they use elements, such as heritage-inspired jade, that other jewellers may not have intuitively used to tell stories.
Contentment, authenticity and open-mindedness. Contentment with your calling in life enables you to reach out in an authentic manner to others; don’t judge others for the choices that they have made.
Life is a bittersweet journey of adventures and I wouldn’t change anything in my past. These experiences have helped me create my own personalised legacy.