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Charmaine’s Support Community

20 Oct

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I’ve been following Charmaine and her story ever since the blog URL started circulating early 2009 because a friend of mine knows her mummy, Cynthia, and sent the link to me.

Charmaine is a courageous, charming little girl from Singapore who suffers from neuroblastoma, a form of cancer mainly occurring in kids and a blog was created by Cynthia’s friend, Jolene, as a way of encouragement.

From encouragement, the blog took on a life of its own when more and more people started following the updates on Charmaine’s well-being. Soon after, Charmaine’s doctors gave her only a slim 20% chance of survival on the then-chemotherapy treatment unless she goes to the US for a procedure that can increase her chance of survival to 40 – 50%. The required sum was US$350,000 which came as a shocker to Cynthia.

Like many others, this new knowledge spurned us into action. We were passing on the message about this poor little girl, can somebody do something about it, can somebody help her out. Because Cynthia didn’t have so much money, and after much deliberation, she decided to appeal to the public for the funds to send her baby to New York for further treatment.

Singapore media picked up the story quickly. Readers started pouring in donations and raised a decent sum of $40,000. Another $60,000 was raised when local footballers decided to hold a charity match. AXN, a regional media company, found out about the story and produced a TV commercial appealing to the public for donations, adding popular local faces calling out to donors:

In July 2009, the targeted sum was met and this family of 3 (Charmaine, Cynthia and Charmaine’s brother, Jase) had to start planning for their trip to the US.

As we talk about online communities in class today, I can’t help thinking how an online community of sort was formed out of this – a sick little girl and a blog. The feistyprincess blog has a group of followers, and on Youtube, one can find videos made by people who found out about the story and just want to help out by publicising their homemade videos to their own social networks. The sum required to send little Charmaine off for treatment wouldn’t have happened if people didn’t pass around the message by word of mouth, hoping that by action in unity, some good can come out of it. And it did.

I still check back on the blog every now and then. Follow them on Facebook or check out their blog for latest updates.