The Good Race

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Samuel Koh reflects on the road that he has travelled as COH Executive Director, and on the journey to come.

At the start of Samuel’s career in COH nearly 10 years ago, it seemed to him that he was merely here to ‘fill a vacancy’. However, the position coincided with his search for a meaningful role in his professional life, that has turned into a marathon journey for him.

Now, Samuel says that his purpose and vision is sharper, and his resolve, much stronger. He outlined three areas of focus for the next phase of development in COH.

Samuel Koh puts the finishing paces to the end of a marathon.

Samuel Koh puts the finishing paces to the end of a marathon.

“Firstly, my heartbeat is very much to see COH become a professional organization,” Samuel said. He desires to ramp up the Outreach’s effectiveness and efficiency, and earn a reputation for delivering the highest quality care. To this end, Samuel emphasized developing a highly motivated and skilled staff force that was focused on excellent programme delivery for their clients.

“Second, we want COH to be an active partner in propagating ideas and know-how in various communities of practice.” For Samuel, this means not only contributing to the knowledge base in the sector, but at the same time actively seeking the inputs of other providers of care to the intellectually disabled.

Finally, Samuel envisions the harnessing of technology as a force multiplier. “Using technology to work to our advantage, it is my dream in the coming years we can work towards setting new trends (in caring for adults who are intellectually disabled).”

Samuel’s thinking behind his three areas of focus was to achieve the establishment of a professional outfit – “to deliver cutting edge programmes and services”. This would serve as the organization’s central strategy.

The overarching vision for the Outreach still remains. COH’s intention to build acceptance and give hope to the intellectually disabled through engagement with society at large forms the basis for his goal of achieving organizational excellence.

Samuel explained, “we want the public to see COH as the point of connection and engagement, so that they can say that they learned to understand people with intellectual disabilities (from their experience with COH).”

Parallels with marathon running

As it happens, Samuel is preparing for his 4th marathon at year’s end. Preparing for the event sees him training twice a week, and running two half-marathon events.

It is worth noting that it was the clients of COH, Lin Han and Shaun Chui, who gave Samuel his inspiration and initiation into the activity of long-distance running. His belief that society needs to understand the intellectually disabled as it is beneficial not just to the disabled, but to people in general, is reflected in how he was inspired by the clients.

Running marathons has indeed had a positive impact on Samuel. “Each time I finished (the last 3 marathons), I found new energy to want to go on. I think I have caught the running bug as a result,” Samuel said. “To stop now would be more difficult than to continue!”

To Samuel, physical running closely mirrors “running the race of life”, in that there are ups, downs, and moments when one is tempted to give up. You also have to have discipline to follow instructions and stick to them if you want to finish.

As for his own race in life, Samuel hopes that there is at least another half distance to go – God willing – as he looks to keep on running the good race.


About the Author: The COH Resource Team comprises volunteers, content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals.

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