Diving Deep: The Essence of Friendship

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Weiyan and Kai Lee may often get mistaken as sisters. They share the same bubbly, larger-than-life personality and infectious energy – only that Kai Lee is the “super uninhibited, unfiltered version of myself,” jokes Weiyan. Balancing them out is Jiajin , whose zen vibes complement the two.

Weiyan and Jiajin were struck by Kai Lee during a community theatre performance featuring the dreams and hopes of Rainbow Centre’s senior students. For them, it was an instant connection.

“The first moment I saw her, she was singing her heart out and behaving just like a Weiyan already,” said Jiajin, who was Kai Lee’s ukulele accompaniment at the time. That was how they joined as befrienders, knowing they wanted to pair up with somebody they could trust and to also keep the friendship going.

Right from the get-go, they drew up a list of things of common interests to do to get a sense of what they could do together – from flying kites, art and craft, cycling to eating good food. The trio have taken part in a treasure hunt at Jurong Lake Gardens, flew kites at Marina Barrage, gone trick-or-treating during Halloween while dressed up as a unicorn, sushi and Minnie Mouse and crafted Christmas trees at Weiyan’s studio.  

Today, their relationship has deepened, so much so that Kai Lee no longer calls them as ‘captains or teachers’ but “Weiyan jie jie and Jiajin kor kor.”

(from left to right) Weiyan, Jiajin and Kai Lee celebrating Jiajin’s birthday after a craft session of painting wooden Christmas trees.

Kai Lee’s parents also view the befrienders as a great source of support. They’ve confided their sorrows and worries for their child. They sometimes request for the pair to spend more time with Kai Lee just so they can work longer hours to supplement their income.

When Kai Lee disappeared from home, her parents fretted for her safety. They found her buying a Ramly burger and other food at the nearby pasar malam. Weiyan and Jiajin decided to design an Amazing Race on the MRT so she could learn to be public transport literate.

Jiajin, an early intervention teacher, says his favourite moment was when Kai Lee’s mother, a delivery food rider, gifted him with her free limited edition World Cup mug from McDonalds from her collection of treasured possessions. It was a simple gesture, but one that left him moved beyond words.

Weiyan doesn’t see it as volunteering or feel-good gestures but it is about being “intentional” in how to befriend someone. “I couldn’t have done it without a friend in Jiajin… because Kai Lee is verbal but non-verbal in so many ways,” she said.

“It’s super refreshing to learn how to make friends again, and to reevaluate what it means to have a deeper human relationship that is positive and healthy. Isn’t friendship one of the things which give life meaning and make it beautiful?”