SFGC: Where are you from? Where have you lived? How long have you been in Singapore?
I come from a small town in the southern part of India. I lived there through high school until leaving for higher education and to work in Bangalore. My marriage took me to Amsterdam where I lived for about ten years, and I lived another five years in Shanghai. Slightly less than a year ago we moved to Singapore.
SFGC: A few months ago, your two children, Siddharth & Anushka, had a birthday party that they decided to use as a way to raise money for Pandoo Foundation. Tell us about that and what you believe they learned from the experience.
We're amongst people who have most of life's necessities, so we wanted to get our kids out of the mode that a birthday party is all about receiving gifts. When our son was three years old, we decided to try and create something that was fun but would also help him learn about giving. We started with animals, a very kid-friendly concept. His friends were
encouraged to make a donation to feed his favourite animal, the giraffe, rather than buy him presents. He donated this to a giraffe project in Africa. For his next birthdays, he donated to a kids' community library and a children's eyecare project...both in Shanghai. Our daughter wanted to do the same and she adopted an orphan elephant in Africa on her 4th birthday. Now, when birthday party planning time comes around, they ask us what cause they can contribute to this time. They really enjoy this and it’s become a family tradition.
SFGC: You have supported Pandoo Foundation by helping to establish a "Mobile Play" program. Why is this important to you?
What the kids did for Pandoo Foundation through their birthday fundraiser is what we as a family do from our personal side. Additionally, we actually run a foundation called Enabling Leadership, which constantly looks for creative initiatives that invest in
building leadership skills in children. So this whole idea of mobile play fits really well with us. We found the Jeepney outreach so cool. If you can’t come to us, we will come to you!
SFGC: How would you describe the significance of learning through play?
I think that play is something children naturally learn through. It’s something they naturally do. Development through sports has really been proven over the past couple of decades. I used to work for a funding organization in the Netherlands and we pioneered a women’s soccer program that was funded by Nike. That’s a little different, but I think it’s the same concept.
SFGC: Global Citizen Crush!?
I think after growing up in India the first person that comes to mind is Gandhi. He’s a simple guy from a very average middle class family who approached problems with such conviction. It just makes you believe that anything is possible and that we can all make a difference.