Our mistakes do not define who we really are, says Nell-lynn.
Working with death row prisoners for years in Bali’s Kerobokan Prison, Nell-lynn has seen the face of despair, fear and solitude. “I supported these prisoners by helping them deal with prison life and their sentences. I’ve cooked for them and bought them supplies from time to time,” she explains.
When asked why she chose this cause to champion, Nell-lynn says simply, “I believe everyone makes mistakes, some bigger than others, some more costly. But our mistakes do not define who we really are.”
She also believes people shouldn’t judge others when they have no idea as to what led to these criminals committing the crime in the first place. She recalls one death row prisoner Titus, a Nigerian who witnessed unbelievable atrocities as a young boy but is in her words, “one of the most gentle, honest and loving beings I have ever come to know.
Apart from these visits, Nell-lynn also corresponded with prisoners incarcerated in prisons away from their homelands. She wrote letters to four prisoners in Asia and one in Central Africa.
When asked why she has chosen this path in her life Nell-lynn replies, “Most of us shun any hardship that we witness, but turning our backs on it does not make it disappear. Doing our bit even if it’s only a small ripple in the ocean, helps.”
Making a conscious decision years ago to never become a self-centred person, Nell-lynn believes that she is a better person because of the work she does. “I’ve never considered myself lucky when I achieved anything that I had gained, other than these opportunities at volunteerism.”
Apart from befriending prisoners, she gave one year of her life to paraplegic patients of a government-owned hospital in Jakarta. Nell-lynn says, “I witnessed immense suffering by people already challenged with financial constraints. A few never had anyone visit them as they didn’t have family members, so my visits meant a lot to them.”
She also reached out to two street children in Jakarta, volunteering to foster them for over a year. “The boy was nine and his sister, five. They lived with me. It was yet another experience that I shall never forget, even though they returned to the streets,” Nell-lynn recalls.
Her most ardent wish today is to be granted permission to volunteer at the Sungai Buloh Hospital’s AIDS unit in Malaysia. Although petitioning countless times, she has not been given the green light yet. Feeling strongly about these patients, Nell-lynn explains, “To be forgotten while one is alive must be one of the saddest feelings in the world. To feel alone at a time when you need someone beside you the most, is heartbreaking.”
If there was one thing she wishes to impart to society it’s that each of us can make a difference in someone else’s life. She says, “Often we blame governments and society for all that has gone wrong, but society is made out of us.”
To her, success cannot be attributed to the things one has acquired in their lifetime – love, compassion and empathy is what counts. “When we have helped someone who has no means of helping us, we are successful. When we have shared even when we have had little, we have been truly generous. When we go out of our way to help strangers, we have come to know love for humanity,” Nell-lynn says.
Currently working on securing funding to publish her first book entitled ‘Within’, Nell-lynn says her goal is to pursue a counselling course from the profits of her book sales. She says, “Being a counsellor has been a childhood dream of mine.”