Making good of a tough past
She had a rough childhood, when her father went to jail and her mother fell ill. But those experiences made Ee Min who she is today.
Growing up was tough for Lau Ee Min. Her family was poor and her father was a habitual gambler who went to jail twice for fund embezzlement and working with loan sharks. Her mother fell ill and had to be hospitalised for several months when she was in secondary four.
“Thankfully, my father turned over a new leaf and found a job as a driver, and sometimes he would offer to pick my team up when we have to carry lots of stuff to events,” said Ee Min.
As her family was not well to do, she and her sisters could barely afford to buy new books and shoes. Ee Min started working at 14 to help her mother cope with the family’s expenses.
When her mother was admitted to hospital for gall bladder problems, Ee Min’s grades dropped drastically and she slipped into depression and anxiety, causing her to skip school.
However, her teachers and peers helped her get back on her feet, by staying with her after school to revise. Ee Min eventually graduated and earned nine points for her GCE ‘O’ Levels examinations and went on to junior college.
After graduating from Anglo-Chinese Junior College, the avid reader started working at the Singapore Children’s Society as a fundraising assistant. She also gave free tuition lessons to the underprivileged children at the Chinese Development Assistance Council.
They started Project Ubuntu, which is a platform where charities and beneficiaries can establish corporate partnerships and collaborate with various art groups in Singapore. Project Ubuntu also provides art skills training programs and job opportunities to budding artists.
Ubuntu is a South African term that roughly means ‘human kindness’. It also means ‘I am because of you.’ And it is this value that pushes Ee Min to keep doing what she is doing.
However, things got harder when two of the co-founders left Project Ubuntu, due to a disagreement that arose, as well as one of them leaving for overseas studies.
Her family was also not supportive of her work, as they were cynical about the social service sector, due to their experience.
“Anyone on the same unconventional path should always remember to look within themselves and not allow the voices of others affect the goal they are trying to achieve, I concluded that my family loves me a lot but I should not let their voices affect what I’m doing,” said the psychology undergraduate at uniSIM.
Project Ubuntu will soon be starting a training programme in illustrative graphic design, and they hope to groom a group of artists to produce quality illustrative artworks by June 2016.
Ee Min hopes that the initiative will grow and attract people to build a network of creative individuals and professionals whose talents can be tapped into for brand awareness.