I Lost My Eyesight At The Peak Of My Career At 45, But I Fought Back With A New Career That Brings Light To Others

Dialogue includes all.

All human senses are crucial, yet more often than not, their importance tends to be overlooked and taken for granted.

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Could you ever imagine what it would be like if your eyesight suddenly disappeared when you were in the prime of your youth and at a time when your career was on an upward trajectory? 

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This is the story of Stevens Chan, a man who faced this unimaginable reality head-on but instead chose to transform a personal tragedy into a beacon of hope and inclusivity for others.

Stevens at artdo 4th oct-148
Image provided to WeirdKaya

The onset of darkness

In 2005, Stevens was at the pinnacle of his career in the banking and insurance industry, where he was cruising through life with the confidence of a seasoned banker. However, fate had a different plan. 

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He was later diagnosed with glaucoma, a debilitating eye condition and underwent nine gruelling surgeries throughout 2007 in hopes of restoring his eyesight.

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be and Stevens eventually lost his vision completely.

At that point, my life was completely dark. Not only in my eyesight but also my heart as well.”

Finding hope in despair

Amidst the darkness, Stevens found a flicker of hope. Supported by his deep faith and the steadfast love of his wife, Kaye Wong, he discovered a newfound strength he never knew he had. 

Kaye, transitioning from a successful career in beauty and sales, became not just a partner in life but a pillar of strength and co-founder of their forthcoming endeavours. Together, they embarked on a journey to turn adversity into opportunity.

Thank God and thanks to my wife for her loving support,” he said affectionately.

Stevens and kaye overseas
Stevens and Kaye (Photo via Christianity Malaysia)

In 2008, armed with a newfound purpose, Stevens founded the Malaysian Eye Patient Society and SOS Missions Berhad. 

My mission was clear: to prevent needless blindness and support those battling eye disorders.”

But Stevens’ vision extended beyond just medical support. He sought to create a more inclusive and empathetic society to bridge the abled and disabled community. 

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Dialogue in the Dark: A World of Empathy

2012 marked a pivotal year for Stevens, where he established Dialogue in the Dark Malaysia, an innovative venture licensed by Dialogue Social Enterprise in Germany. 

This unique concept involved guiding visitors through complete darkness, led by blind hosts. This experience was transformative, not just for the participants but for society’s understanding of visual disabilities. 

Yayasan hasanah dine in the dark
Photo provided to WeirdKaya

What happens throughout this experiential learning centre is that people will be guided through specially constructed galleries in complete darkness that are guided by trained visually impaired guides.”

It laid the groundwork for what would later evolve into Dialogue Includes All (DIA), a platform dedicated to fostering awareness, empathy, and empowerment.

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Under Stevens’ leadership, DIA flourished. It became more than just an organisation and took on the form of a movement. Initiatives like the “Dog for Sight” and partner programs for empowering disabled entrepreneurs underlined DIA’s commitment to inclusivity and support. 

Today, DIA stands as a testament to what resilience, innovation, and a belief in inclusivity can achieve. 

With Stevens at the helm, it has transformed into a beacon of hope, illuminating the path for countless individuals. 

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Over the years, it has been opening doors. Many of our friends are now working with corporates like Alliance, Hong Leong, etc, simply because these companies are now seeing their abilities.”

This is where Stevens and his team believe their experiential programme from their academy and change lives and empower more people with disabilities to contribute to society. 

Kering international dia workshop
Photo provided to WeirdKaya

Through workshops, sponsorships, and advocacy, DIA continues to break barriers, ensuring that disabilities do not define one’s capabilities or limit one’s potential.

Over the years, we have attracted more than 30,000 visitors and served more than 140 organizations, corporations and government agencies through workshops. We also conducted education workshops for universities and colleges.”

They have also won various awards such as the DIGI Challenge For Change Winner, MAGIC Amplify Award, and SE.A + A Accreditation, all of which bears testament to DIA’s success.

In 2019 I was also awarded the Star Golden Hearts and we were given tax-exempt status by the Ministry of Finance in the same year,” added Stevens.

Star golden hearts award 2019 : awards presentation ceremony.
Photo provided to WeirdKaya

A brighter future

Despite DIA’s growing success, Stevens believes the journey is far from over. With plans to relaunch Dialogue in the Dark, introduce Dialogue Games, and expand its reach, DIA is poised for greater impact. 

DIA is also aiming to become the first full 4 Dialogue Experience Discovery Centre in Southeast Asia that includes Dialogue in the Dark, Dialogue Game, Dialogue in Silence, and Dialogue with Time by 2026 after their equity crowdfunding.

Pusat tuisyen akal cerdik and pusat tuisyen seri fajar
Photo provided to WeirdKaya

We will be the first in ASEAN because this new centre will have 4 different global award-winning experiences licensed by Dialogue Social Enterprise from Germany.

Besides that, there will also be a cafe that will be operated and facilitated by autistic and mentally challenged friends who will also be trained as welcoming hosts to our Discovery Centre.”

Dia - top 50 finalists mystartr sandbox
Photo provided to WeirdKaya

Stevens’ journey with Kaye by his side, from descending into a world void of light to becoming a shining beacon for others proves that the strength of the human spirit and the boundless potential for kindness and empathy create a more inclusive world. 

Thankfully, we have managed to start the conversation between the abled and disabled society. Actually, there is no difference between both worlds. There shouldn’t be any marginalisation or barriers towards building a more inclusive and empathetic society.”

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