I was only 22 years old when I first travelled to Africa. I had a job offer and I wanted a short holiday before embarking on my career as a Tax Accountant. I went to visit my elder brother, Francis, who is now a priest, who lived in a remote village in Turkana, a semi desert region in the north-east of Kenya. During my time there, I met some nurses from the Claraeulalias Community and witnessed how they served the marginalised and needy by attending to their basic medical needs. For the first time in my life, I realised that life was extremely difficult for others. There is a much bigger place outside my worldview, and this realisation left a deep impact on my life.

Gabriel with Solomon Dulu and Kingston Bisiko from Kenya, while on an educational trip in 2018

For the next five years, I worked hard as an accountant in Singapore. But there were also many questions in my mind and heart. As such, I made trips back to Kenya and Bolivia despite my busy work schedule. These questions were the reason why I was spurred to resign from my job, as I needed to properly discern about my life and vocation. I sold my car to then Archbishop Gregory Yong, donated my furniture to the Good Shepherd sisters, withdrew my life savings and departed to Kenya in search of the answers. I chose Kenya because it was the place that kickstarted all these questions.

I realise that I was not the main hero in the story. God is.

Unfortunately, my world came crashing down soon after. I thought I had good intentions, that I was doing philanthropy, making personal sacrifices, changing lives, and bringing solutions to other. But it revealed nothing. Within a year, the euphoria ended. I felt so empty, like I was in a desert.

It was a humbling experience when I realise that I was not the main hero in the story. God is.

Now, I can testify that the time being stuck in a desert was life-changing and life giving. It strengthened my faith tremendously and taught me to rely less on myself and more on God. My faith drives me to serve the Kenyans.

Gabriel Teo
Founder, Tana River Life Foundation

This story was adapted from Charis website.

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Humanitarian Forum & Fair 2019: Encounter

Come see, inquire, explore and learn from exhibits put up by organisations in Singapore and Asia involved in humanitarian work.
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