Taiwanese superstar Wang Leehom, a globally recognised multi-talented heartthrob, has signed on as World Vision Malaysia’s ambassador last Friday. In his new role, the artist will collaborate with the international relief, development and advocacy organisation to highlight the impact of poverty on children and communities.
The multi-lingual star finds joy in contributing to something bigger than himself. Having been a World Vision supporter for more than a decade, he currently sponsors 16 children from Cambodia, Guatemala, Sierre Leone and Taiwan, and seeks to increase that number to 20.
Known for his catchy music and heartfelt ballads, the American-born Taiwanese singer is not only a popular performer, but also a successful record producer, film director, an actor and more recently, a father of three.
That being said, under all the glitz and glamour, Leehom remains as just a person, a member of the earth as he puts it, and has the memory of growing up in a household where his parents displayed their support in contributing to society. But who knew that many years down the road, Leehom would be the ambassador to the very organisation his parents were supporters of?
Perhaps, not many has seen this side of the superstar but Leehom was never afraid to share his personal opinions, beliefs and passion to his fans, also known as the ‘HOManiacs’. As a veteran in the entertainment industry, Leehom acknowledges the power of social media.
“Apart from promoting music and sharing the details of my life, of course it can also be used to share important issues and ideas,” he says.
In the past, Leehom took some time off to visit World Vision’s community transformation projects in Sierra Leone, Laos and China. When asked about his experience, apart from eating bugs for the first time, he says, “It gives you a sense of immediacy, reality and also it puts the emotional aspect into it… Once you’ve experienced the same traumatic situation or sense of helplessness; that’s something you’ll never forget.”
Leehom’s significant time with the organisation has yielded a more personal understanding towards the pressing issues faced by underdeveloped societies. A fraction of the society still shows indifference towards poverty and children’s rights, but the World Vision trips has helped Leehom to be more empathetic towards the plight of the underprivileged.
The family man also hopes that his family, friends and fans will continue to support his volunteering work. “I’m so happy when I’m doing it,” he says. “I think [for] a lot of people, when they feel like they can contribute to something bigger than themselves — it’s a great source of happiness.”
During the intimate press conference at Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur, Leehom shared a full circle moment when a video clip of him visiting Sierra Leone 10 years ago was displayed. In one scene, a teenager held up a letter of encouragement from a Taiwanese sponsor containing lyrics to one of Leehom’s songs, which he then showed it to Leehom when he visited his village. The special footage transported Leehom back in time as he recalled the meaningful experience that touched his heart to the Malaysian audience.
“It’s really meaningful work,” says Leehom about World Vision. “It’s giving people hope, giving people a chance at a better life, especially the poorest of the poor.”
World Vision is a humanitarian organisation with a long-standing history. Dedicated to overcoming extreme poverty and injustice faced by children and families, the organisation implements many programmes for emergency relief, education and economic development to name a few. The Malaysian office was established 22 years ago as a support office to raise funds for the programmes through a variety of projects. Some of those projects include the Child Sponsorship Programme, 30-Hour Famine and Gifts of Hope.
Over the years, World Vision Malaysia expanded to cover community transformational development programmes, specific advocacy initiatives and emergency response. The organisation reaches out to the poor, working with them to build a sustainable future and to provide them with access to healthcare, water, nutrition, basic education and economic transformation.
The World Vision Sponsorship Programme offers individuals and corporations the opportunity to bring change to the lives of children, their families and communities for RM65 per month (children from Asian countries) or RM80 per month (children from non-Asian countries). See here for more info.