Just like his classmates, Matthew Tan from St Joseph’s Institution was preparing for his O Levels in 2010.
However, his plans were abruptly halted in April that year after an accident in a judo competition caused a blood clot in his brain.
The prognosis from the doctors was bleak – he would lose his speech, walking would be difficult and sight in his left eye would be affected.
But amazingly, almost one year later in March 2011, he studied for Sec Three-level exams, battled his handicap and went on to sit for his O Levels in 2012, obtaining an aggregate score of 11 points in the process.
“It was the power of prayer,” said the parishioner of the Church of St Mary of the Angels, as he recounted how he battled his handicap.
“Since I couldn’t talk at the time, in my mind I just prayed to God. It was a miracle for me. I also couldn’t sit properly and walking was a difficulty.
“Later when I was in a wheelchair I heard a voice telling me, ‘You will be a walking testimony of what true perseverance is.’”
Today, Tan still has difficulty walking and just about manages to take the bus. The sight in his left eye is also impaired.
He credits his family, teachers and priests in his parish for the recovery he has made. “God blessed me with many angels,” he said.
Tan, who shared that he visited the school chapel regularly, said, “I think I inspired other students because they could see that in spite of my handicap I was determined to go to the chapel.”
He said he didn’t expect such good, results. “Siting for the exam was a miracle in itself,” he said.
Tan says he wants to study social work at Nanyang Polytechnic.
“One day during my rehabilitation, I was early for my appointment and I saw how the therapists helped other people in a similar situation and I was so inspired by how they helped people in this situation that I decided to take a course so I could serve the disabled,” he said.
When asked what advice he would give to others who may be experiencing what he went through, he said, “Everything that happens can be turned for the good. God has a plan for you. You have to look to see what God’s plan is for you in every situation.”
By Don Gurugay