Voices That Care

Say Hello to ... Darshini

Every single person in Care2Run’s ecosystem is essential, and we’ve grown so much in three years thanks to all the different individuals who’ve played a part in getting us to where we are.

It is for this reason that we aim to hand this section over to our people – our participants, coaches, volunteers, parents, friends and loved ones – so they can tell you what Care2Run means to them.

This week we say hello to …..  Darshini S., a volunteer mentor in Care2Run’s 2019 Junior Leaders Programme, who’s formed a special bond with her mentee.

ONE would assume that Darshini’s profession as the regional delivery director at a telecommunications company is completely at odds with her role as a volunteer mentor to differently-abled young persons. Yet, the mum of four tells us that that isn’t entirely the case, adding that both roles complement each other.

“In my profession, I deal with people from different walks of life. I love studying and interacting with people, and through my work, I’ve managed to learn from various people about the different things they like, their backgrounds, and their motivations. So I feel there’s a lot of overlap in what I do at work, and my role at Care2Run.

“I love to see people happy, so I’ve tried to use the knowledge I’ve gained from my work at Care2Run. Similarly, I’ve also experimented with using some of the things I’ve learned at Care2Run in my professional life,” Darshini says, highlighting, especially, how she’s tapped into all her experiences to form a special bond with her mentee, Navilan.

Since being paired with each other during the 2019 Junior Leaders Programme (JLP), Darshini and Navilan have been inseparable, and it’s easy to see the sheer happiness on both their faces as they’ve grown and learnt together over the weeks. But we’ll let Darshini tell you more about that …

Hello there, Darshini. Could you tell us a little about yourself and how you got involved with Care2Run?
I’m an engineer by profession and I take care of Singtel’s delivery centre here in Malaysia. As for joining Care2Run as a volunteer, it was actually due to a message Leena posted just before the JLP kicked off. Leena and I are related and she’d posted a message in one of the family WhatsApp groups calling for volunteers. It was a matter of luck and chance, to be honest. Prior to that message, I’d no knowledge of Care2Run, and had never talked to Leena about it.

What did you think when you heard about how Care2Run uses sports to build confidence as well as mental and physical agility in differently-abled young persons?
I felt it was a different way of getting through to kids, which is probably more engaging for them because kids, regardless of whether they’re differently-abled or not, just want to be kids. I do believe that children have more fun and sometimes learn more through something like sports as compared to lessons in a traditional classroom environment.

Had you any experience with differently-abled young persons or volunteering prior to joining us as a mentor?
No, I’d never worked with differently-abled children prior to this. As for volunteering, I’d volunteered before, but those experiences don’t really compare as being a volunteer here is definitely more hands-on.

You’re currently mentoring Navilan. Can you share with us what that experience has been like for you?
Actually, the first person I worked with was Brian. However, two weeks in, I started mentoring Navilan and we clicked instantly. He’s just so cute and I love him to bits.

Navilan is a young person who’s very active and loves to be constantly engaged. Was that challenging for you?
Not really. I have four kids of my own. So I’ve experimented on various techniques with them over the years, and I use some of those methods in engaging with Navilan. One of the challenges with Navilan, however, is that I need to coax the answers out of him when both of us are involved in an activity that requires him to speak. He’s a young child who loves to sing and play, and I try to interest him in things around him when I notice that he’s distracted. For example, when a train passes, I’ll ask him, “What’s that?”, to which he’ll go, “train!”. And then we get back on track. I’ve noticed too during certain activities, like the medallion match challenge, that he’s really good at recognising words on flashcards, so I think he’d really benefit from more engagement in this manner. I also sing a lot of nursery rhymes with him and he enjoys that.

What has it been like working with your mentee in terms of getting him to follow instructions?
One of the things which has worked very well with Navilan is getting him to stand on the basketball court line. Whenever we need to stand in a spot and listen, I’ll try and get him to stand at the line, and he does listen. Of course, sometimes he gets tired and just wants to sit down, but that’s okay because I get tired too. So we sit down together. [laughs]

That’s awesome, Darshini. And how has Navilan responded to you as a mentor?
To be honest, one of the reasons I’ve tried to not miss a single week of the sessions is because I was initially concerned that he’d forget who I was if I did miss a few session. The first few times we were together, he called me “Darshini Teacher”. Now he calls me “Darshini”. So I believe that he definitely remembers me. I feel I’ve formed a very strong bond with Navilan and I notice that I get very upset if anyone corrects him or tells him he shouldn’t be doing this or that.

What are your aspirations for your mentee and for Care2Run as a whole?
For Navilan, I’d really love to see him become someone who’s independent. I think that that will come with time. And I think that as he grows up, he’ll become slightly more focussed. As for Care2Run, I think the programmes are really good but certainly, there’s always room for improvement.

What’s that one thing about Care2Run that really resonates with you?
The multiracial component of the organisation. There’s no discrimination against race, colour or what someone can or cannot do. And I think that’s one of the most magical things you can have in a community-driven initiative like this.

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