Mr. Wee Tech Young is a 50-year-old Singaporean aid worker who runs a non-profit organization in Kabul. Wee is a peace activist who believes the Afghans need peace more than anything else.
Wee Tech Young, a 50-year-old Singaporean aid worker, comes to his Kabul-based office, every working day, to promote peace. Mr. Wee logs in to his laptop and reads international outlets to learn about the latest development in the world. He archives all good news, hoping his efforts will add something good to the world.
In 2012, Wee along with a dozen Afghan youth established a non-profit organization called the Afghan Peace Volunteers, aiming to work for an equal, violence-free and green world.
To achieve his objectives, Wee left a comfortable life in Singapore, and came to war-torn Afghanistan to make a contribution in promoting peace and equality.
“I really have fun here,” said 13-year old Faridon who works on the street as shoe shiner. “I learn Math, Dari, non-violence education, and life skills in the Border Free School,” he said. The school is run by Afghan Peace Volunteers.
Beyond education, there is another incentive that wakes Faridon up early morning to attend the classes: Food.
The Afghan Peace Volunteers distributes food to the children who attend the Border Free School, once a month. Singaporean aid worker Wee works with 80 young volunteers to make the world a better place.
Before dedicating his life to humanitarian works, Wee used to run a private clinic in Singapore. By a sheer accident, he happened to encounter a rich patient who was struggling with cancer. “You are young and have a bright future,” the patient wrote in a piece of paper to Wee. “I have enough money to support three generations, but they don’t help me. Don’t be like me. And don’t be slave of money.”
The patient passed away but his message preoccupied Wee’s mind for years, and changed his life in the years to come. Wee seized a golden opportunity to work as a humanitarian worker in an international organization as a doctor to treat Afghan refugees in Quetta, Pakistan.
In Quetta, he developed a strong friendship with 10-year-old Afghan refugee Najib. They often would hang out, have friendly conversations about Najib’s life, background and his parents who were killed in a U.S. airstrike in Kandahar province of Afghanistan.
In Quetta, Afghan refugees would call Lee Hakim, a word that became his nickname in Afghanistan.
“One day, we wanted to pose for a photo, and I asked Najib to smile for it,” said Wee. “His grandmother shouted that Najib had no reason to smile. I was saddened by it and I still remember the scene.”
After his friendship with Najib, Wee Tech Young decided to explore Afghanistan. He packed his bags, and left Quetta for Bamyan, where he settled down, and worked as a doctor. Wee opened up a medical training center and lived in remote villages of Bamyan to educate locals about medical care.
In 2012, Wee shifted his efforts from medical services to peace building, and settled in the capital, Kabul. “During my work as a doctor, I realized that Afghans needed much more than a doctor,” he said. “There are different areas of life that are much vital for Afghans, like peace and security.”
Since 2012, Wee along with a dozen Afghan volunteers have been working on agriculture projects and setting up solar systems to fight global warming and climate change. They run a tailoring workshop business, in which a volunteer group are shareholders.
“The very basic change, that I feel comes from my experience of working with Lee is that I feel more sympathetic for street children and poor people,”said Naser Lesani, a 22-year old university student and volunteer at Afghan Peace Volunteers.
These peace volunteers, under the supervision of Mr. Wee, initiated a campaign OurJourneyToSmile, in which they promote peace and say no to war across the world. People from 74 countries have signed in and are part of the campaign.
“She was right about Najib,” Wee said, pointing Najib’s grandmother’s saying in Quetta. “He had no reason to smile, but we have to create a world where everyone can find many reasons to smile.”