Girl overcomes terrible accident and clears N Levels with great resilience

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This student had to learn how to write with her non-master hand after losing her index and middle fingers to an accident in 2013.

The New Paper covered the journey of Yvonne Tan Li Xuan, whose right hand got caught in a sugar cane juicier in 2013. Despite this terrible accident, this young lady scored well enough to go on to Secondary 5.

Losing her digits meant that the right-handed student had to relearn how to do everything with her left hand.

Yvonne was only 14-years-old when she was helping out at her dad's drink stall in Toa Payoh when her right hand got caught in the juicer while she was trying to dislodge a piece of sugar cane that was stuck.

While the right index and middle fingers were lost, the then 14-year-old went through an operation that transplanted one of her toes to save her partially severed thumb. The successful operation gave her back the ability to hold things with her right hand.

However she still had to learn how to write and hold things with her left hand, and it took time before Yvonne, a member of the Girl's Brigade could finally raise her arms to 90 degrees. That did not stop her from returning to school just two months after the accident.

Hard work and practice

Learning how to write took her more than a month. She considered the process to be "not as bad. It's just that the words are all crooked and messy."

The high standards she set for herself meant that she rewrites her work if the words look crooked. Considering everything that she has been through, Yvonne was given an additional 25% of each paper's duration to complete her exams, including the N levels.

Despite all the hurdles she had to face, the Normal (Academic) achieved what she aimed for.

The accident still remains in her mind. In an interview with The New Paper, Yvonne reflects that she is "still quite affected", even to the point that she has not returned to her dad's drink stall since the accident.

Behind this 16-year-old hides a steely core. Even when she battles her own problems, she displays a strong resolve,

"I don't let my parents know when I'm upset because I don't want to upset them".

Like every other teenager, she battles with insecurities and worries. She states that "When I'm alone at night, I tend to think a lot, like focus on what I can't do because of my hand injuries" adding that "I am very conscious of how people look at me (due to the sight of her injuries)".

While she appeared nonchalant about the scar, simply saying that "I don't think I even have a choice." She wears a sleeve on her right hand to hide the injuries.

Read on to find out about Yvonne's road to recovery.

Paved with support from the community.

When she was hospitalised, she received numerous well-wishes and origami cranes. Origami cranes are believed by the Japanese to grant good-luck and recovery from injuries.

Her time spent in the hospital allowed her to become closer to her older siblings. Her sister, 18 who just cleared her A'Levels and brother, 19 who is awaiting enlistment chatted with her in the hospital, helping to keep their sister's spirits high.

Yvonne remarked with a laugh that - "There wasn't that much to do in the hospital other than talk".

Her form teacher, Ms Suvenna Tan commented that Yvonne's resilience is amazing.

Ms Tan's initial concern that Yvonne will not be able to cope, being at the age where image is very important proved to be unfounded. The student was determined to do things on her own. Ms Tan added that, "She kept telling us not to help her because she wants to try on her own."

"From there, nothing can stop her. Resilience is a character trait that really brings people forward and I think Yvonne has a lot of that."

Yvonne's dad, Mr Tan Guan An, 51 sees her as the baby, stating in Mandarin that "she will always be a child in my eyes. That's how parents see their children". Yvonne's parents never pressured her when it came to studies.

Mr Tan added that he is proud of his daughter for doing well in her N levels, and comforted that Yvonne is able to confront and deal with her difficulties.

Yvonne certainly teaches strong lessons on determination, strength, courage and focus to all youngsters.

She definitely joins the rank of local celebrities who recently came out with their PSLE results with the belief that resilience, hard work will allow one to succeed.

This inspirational young girl has these words of wisdom for us: "Everything is difficult for the first time. It takes time to get used to it. You just need to practice".

We at theAsianparent wish to congratulate Yvonne on her results and wish her all the best!