"In India, you find a lot of people who don’t study. They’re out in the streets doing nothing
and then they turn to crime,” reflected Ashok Kumar Menghani, an Indian expatriate who’s
made Singapore home these past three years.
“I come from an electrical engineering background, so I try to train these kids to become
electricians. They can then help others in their community fix electrical connections and
charge money for their services. It’s better than being out in the streets and doing nothing
productive,” he continued.
Ashok brought this selfless spirit and desire to serve with him when he moved to Singapore
in 2017 for a job opportunity. Today, he does general marketing for Schneider Electric where
he’s actively involved with the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
A significant part of his CSR involvement sees him being a regular Project HomeWorks volunteer
with Habitat for Humanity Singapore, an undertaking he finds great meaning in.
“A few years ago, I visited a house where an elderly couple and four kids were staying. Their
parents had abandoned them so these kids became the sole responsibility of their grandparents,”
“The house was in a very shabby shape and had six to seven rats – big rats – but the kids didn’t
care at all. So I talked to them and persuaded them to help out with the makeover. Since they
were all living in this house, they should take responsibility for it. They actually listened and were
very motivated to help us clean,” Ashok recalled fondly.
Not satisfied with just being a regular volunteer, Ashok eventually became a HomeWorks
Champion, a recognition given to dedicated volunteer leaders who help oversee and manage the
houses, volunteers and homeowners assigned to them.
“I started off as a volunteer and I’d use to go for various HomeWorks sessions with Champions
guiding us; but, there were many things like painting, cleaning and even hole-filling that we
weren’t doing right. There was always someone who had to coach us,” he shared.
“I’ve always thought that if you’re going to do something, you have to do it the right way. That’s
why I became a Champion and went for a day of hands-on training. Now I feel more equipped to
do the job and help others,” he said enthusiastically.
But finding time to physically attend a HomeWorks session can be a challenge considering the
demands of his job. Putting that into consideration, Ashok made the decision to be a Habitat
HopeBuilder last year. HopeBuilders are a special group of Habitat supporters who believe in the
organisation’s cause and donate on a monthly basis.
“You really have to find the time to attend a volunteering session. But what happens when I
can’t find the time? That is why I try to balance. I try to go physically and at the same time, I
contribute financially,” he explained.
When asked about the impact he wishes to make as a HopeBuilder, Ashok emphasised the
importance of regular contributions to ensure longevity in the good work that Habitat does.
“There are so many individuals and families suffering from so many different conditions.
Maybe someone is sick; maybe someone is old; maybe someone is financially vulnerable.
These people can’t receive a one-time donation and then be expected to continue to survive
for a year. It has to be a regular thing,” he shared.
“These people need a full-fledged programme, and programmes cannot be built and
sustained if money isn’t regularly coming in. There are also many smaller companies or
NGOs that do good work but you’re not sure how your money is used, but that’s not a worry
with Habitat,” he said reassuringly.
After everything that has been said and done, one can’t help but wonder where this desire to
constantly give back to society – regardless of where he calls home – stems from.
“No one compelled me or asked me to do anything. When I was a young boy living in India, I was
used to community living. Later on, everyone shifted to apartments; but, I still maintained that
compound living mentality where everyone helps each other out. There is really nothing special
about what I do,” he said humbly, not acknowledging just how special his approach to life truly is.
Our HopeBuilders are the true visionaries. They provide the consistent and reliable support we need to make sustainable and long-term commitments to families and help them get back on their feet. They believe that vulnerable Singaporeans can be empowered to independently build a better life for themselves with the right kind of help. Join our extraordinary community of visionaries now & transform lives with just $1 a day: https://habitat.give.asia