Voices That Care
Say Hello to ... Kumuthaa
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 ….. K. Kumuthaavalli, a volunteer who says her life has been enriched in many ways since she decided to become a mentor.
EVEN THOUGH she was no stranger to volunteer work, Kumuthaa says that the journey to becoming a mentor in Care2Run’s Junior Leaders Programme this year really forced her to step outside her comfort zone
“I had no experience with differently-abled persons before I joined as a volunteer, so I didn’t know what to expect. I’d seen the promo poster image of a mentor holding a mentee’s hand and running, so initially, I thought the programmes were all about just running with differently-abled kids. I felt I could do that. However, when I began the volunteer orientation programme, there were times when I was not sure if I could be a mentor.
“Thankfully, I received a lot of encouragement and I am very grateful for that because I have learned so much by being involved,” the university student tells us, adding that she’s also found much joy in being able to work and interact with her mentee, a 34-year-old differently-abled young man who always radiates positivity.
Here’s Kumuthaa with the rest of her story …
Hey there, Kumuthaa. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you became a Care2Run mentor?
Hello! Well, I’m a student at a local private university and am currently pursuing a pharmacy degree. As for becoming a mentor, actually, I decided to get involved with Care2Run after reading a post in a Facebook group I follow. Leena had posted a message in the group, calling for volunteers and what I read made me want to join. It was a chance to give back through sports, and I was excited by that.
That’s fantastic. Had you much volunteer experience before joining us?
I was involved with the National Cancer Council Malaysia (MAKNA) before this, so I did have some prior experience. I helped with conducting workshops, raising funds and home visits. There’re many MAKNA beneficiaries, so the home visits, which are usually conducted once a month, are when we disburse funds and make sure patients have everything they need. Funnily, I got involved with MAKNA the same way I got involved with Care2Run: someone posted something in a Facebook group, I read it, and the next thing I knew, I was volunteering with the organisation. [laughs]
Was it challenging becoming a Care2Run mentor?
The first two weeks, during the volunteer orientation programme, were probably the toughest. The role reversal section where volunteers themselves pretended to be differently-abled mentees was especially challenging for me. The facilitators – Prem, Henry and Greg – told us that the mock sessions were worst-case scenarios, but the sessions definitely made me wonder whether I was equipped to be a mentor. I’d never had first-hand experience with differently-abled young persons before, so I did doubt whether I could do it. But Henry and Greg, especially, were really encouraging and gave me a lot of tips. Also, when I finally did work with the participants it was much less challenging than the practice sessions.
Can you share with us what you like about the one-on-one aspect of the programme, where a mentor works with a mentee over a prolonged period of time?
I actually love that aspect a lot. It allows you to actually form a bond with the mentee and understand their behaviour and traits in order to help them better. With my mentee Albert, for example, after working with him for a number of weeks, I now know what makes him tick and what interests him. I was slightly concerned whether we’d work well together, but I think we do. He’s in his 30s and has the same concerns and complaints about work that most people do, so it was easy to bond. We also talk a lot about pets. He has fish and dogs and we talk about that.
Were you always into sports? Is that what appealed to you about Care2Run?
I am an outdoors-y person, and yes, that’s actually one of the reasons I joined Care2Run. Initially, I thought that the activities were based around running only. But of course, that’s not the case. It’s sports as well as other physical activities. For the Junior Leaders Programme, I really love that the activities are so engaging and get participants to internalise and think about their feelings. That’s another wonderful aspect of the programme, I feel.
What are your aspirations for Care2Run, Kumuthaa?
I would love to see Care2Run become more well known than it currently is. I think more awareness might help because even I didn’t really know what Care2Run was all about until I came here and saw for myself. Other than that, I think we’re doing a great job of trying to build confidence and improve the lives of differently-abled persons.