Every year, we scope out 18 women who are driven by a desire to bring positive change and have achieved success in their chosen field as part of the Great Women Of Our Time awards. Meet 2019’s Public Service & Education nominee, Elizabeth Tan, Founder of Sight To Sky:
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Meet Elizabeth Tan – Great Women Of Our Time 2019 Public Service & Education Nominee
Pulling double duty as the CEO of the home-grown shoe brand, Heatwave, and the Co-Founder of non-governmental organisation, Sight To Sky, Elizabeth has always wanted to help those in need.
“In 2010, I took a two-month trip to India to teach English and settled in Ladakh for a while where my students and the villagers would ask me for all sorts of medicines,” she recalls.
“They didn’t have access to basic healthcare and many had eye problems because of the high altitude.”
Upon returning to Singapore, she started Sight To Sky, which has organised an annual mobile eye clinic to remote areas in the Himalayas for the past eight years.
Sight To Sky is Elizabeth’s brainchild – a non-profit founded seven years ago. Its mission is to provide basic healthcare checks that focus on eye issues for poor communities living in remote regions of the Himalayas.
In giving back to those in need, Elizabeth has always believed that if you can you should.
“I grew up in Singapore thinking that charity work or giving back was only for the wealthy,” she shares, “but when I went to Ladakh, I realised that anyone could make a difference as long as they were willing.
“A lot of people ask me why I have to travel to such remote places to help these people and they don’t understand the necessity of it. I feel that since I have been blessed by this responsibility, I don’t question it and seek to help as many people as I can, near or far. I don’t believe that giving back has any limits and since I can give back to further away places, I do.”
She also believes women have the power to change the world in every aspect.
“Our strength as women lies in the fact that we nurture others around us; be it our children, our friends or our loved ones,” says the entrepreneur who also serves as Chief Executive Officer of Heatwave Shoes.
“As a woman, I want to use my voice to speak up for others who do not have a voice. I started Sight to Sky as a meaningful way for me to pay it forward.”
Plans are underway to build a permanent eye clinic in the Ladakh area and Elizabeth is working to roll out a social entrepreneurship programme to equip youth with optician skills.
“There is always someone who needs more help than you,” affirms the young mother. “And no matter what your position in life, you can still make a difference.”
Still, Elizabeth – who is currently also pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Policy – says its important to always remember the “why” of what you set out to do no matter what your goals are.
“It’s necessary to have a very clear vision of what you want to do and your purpose, your driving values. There will be times when these will be challenged and it becomes necessary to know and stand firm in what you believe,” she explains.
“Though the missions are very much positive and we create as much joy and fun as we can with our volunteers, we do rough it out in remote places and live outside the comfort zone in many cases. It’s also very much hard work and sacrifice to be away from home and my daughter.”
Photos: Vee Chin & Tan Wei Te
Fashion Direction: Aaron Kok
Styling Assistants: Juliet Suen & An Lyn Chee
Hair: Jason Wong/Salon Nu, Grego & Ash Loi/Sonder Salon
Makeup: Keith Bryant Lee, Hongling Lim, Rina Sim, Wee Ming & Jyue Huey (for Shann Sok)
Location: 89NR, The Working Capitol, Botanico at The Garage & The Summerhouse
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