Helping others doesn’t always have to be done by the financially-able. Above everything, it’s the thought that counts – everyone has the capacity to help and inspire others to pay it forward.
Mdm Menaka Gopal is a firm believer of that idea. Both a SINDA volunteer and beneficiary, she actively engages in SINDA’s programmes. Till date, she has participated in programmes such as the Befriender programme, Project Athena, and the Triple P Programme.
“I try to contribute with what I have,” she says. “Whoever is capable can give whatever they can. My daughter and I save up to contribute to charity. We source for notebooks, pencil-cases and schoolbags. Then, we hand them to a local organisation, who then donates those items to children from low-income families. My daughter is still young, but I’m gradually introducing her to volunteer activities. I want her to feel the same happiness that I feel when I help others.”
On an average day, Mdm Menaka prepares breakfast, sends her daughter to school, and then returns home to prepare lunch. As part of the Befriender programme, she sets time aside to visit the elderly in the afternoon. “I will call them beforehand, to see if they need my help. Befrienders like myself help the elderly with a variety of tasks – such as applying for assistance, or attending their medical appointments.”
SINDA’s enrichment programmes for children both entertain kids and keep them meaningfully occupied, according to Mdm Menaka. She involves her daughter in as many of these programmes, motivating her to rise early on the weekends for them. In the end, the benefits are worth it. “We are able to improve our bond,” Mdm Menaka affirms. “It’s our responsibility to encourage children to join these programmes, and I hope SINDA will continue to conduct these programmes.”
Along with contributing her time and resources to helping others in the community, Mdm Menaka has also learnt to improve her relationships. She credits the Triple P Programme for it. “I identified areas that I need to work on. Now, I’m opening up more to my family and I’m becoming a more positive person; towards my daughter, my family, and other people.”
Another programme that greatly benefited Mdm Menaka was Project Athena. Due to her husband’s health issues, she became extremely stressed, leading her to fall ill. However, she learnt from Project Athena activities, that she had to spend time on herself and take care of her health. “Everyone should take some time for themselves. If I didn’t take care of myself, I wouldn’t be able to take care of my family,” she agrees.
“People in the community are generally hesitant to ask for help. But there are people who are willing to help us; social welfare organisations, self-help organisations, social workers. They are willing to listen to us. SINDA itself has many programmes and services in place, so I hope people will come forward and participate in them.
Indeed, Mdm Menaka is an example of how anyone can set aside time to help others, and give back to the community. “Only those who have helped others will understand the joy of helping – in turn, they will feel inspired to help more people. We must teach the future generations to be compassionate – that’s how kindness gets paid forward.”