Mrs Drishti Bablani believes that small acts of kindness can contribute to the betterment of society and improve the lives of the less fortunate.
This mindset inspired her to start a movement called The Kindness Ripple in April 2018. It focuses on collecting and donating food to charity organisations in Singapore and has grown from a few volunteers to 45 - 60 per cent of whom are women.
"The inspiration for starting the movement was the will in me and many people around me to give back to society," said Mrs Bablani, who is delivery manager regulatory with Standard Chartered Bank.
"I realised that there are many people who want to help and give back in small ways but most feel what they can do is so little that it would not make much difference."
The 46-year-old wanted to "help people see the true power of their humble contributions".
"I wanted to bring home the point that small acts of kindness can create a big impact if done collectively, in one direction," she said.
Mrs Bablani did not get may opportunities to do voluntary work in Adipur, a town in Gujarat, India, where she grew up as her life revolved around her family and close friends.
She went on to do engineering at L.D. College in Ahmedabad and worked in Mumbai and Gurugram, before getting married to IT professional Dhiraj Bablani, who is one year older than her, in March 2000 and moving to Singapore in 2006.
"We both joined Polaris Software Labs (now Virtusa Singapore) before moving on to JP Morgan Chase, Citibank and Standard Chartered Bank," she said.
"I was well educated but my lifestyle was very Indian.
"Singapore was a more global place and it opened my eyes to many things that I did not know about.
"Our initial plan was to make some money and go back to India after two years. But we decided to stay on as Singapore was amazingly convenient.
"It is so well planned - there are shopping malls at walking distance from anywhere you stay. Public transport is superb, there are clear signboards everywhere and it is a very welcoming society."
The family (which has grown with daughters Teesha, 13, and Yuvika, 10), did get help from colleagues in the initial years to settle down, and gradually "found our own little family of lovely friends".
Mr Stan Lim, a Singaporean colleague, told them about the best places to rent, while other Indian colleagues pointed out where to buy Indian goods and the best Indian restaurants..
They also joined Indian organisations such as the Singapore Sindhi Association and Singapore Gujarati Society.
"We loved the cultural integration that we saw in Singapore," said Mrs Bablani. "Every festival was celebrated on a grand scale. Eventually we did not miss home so much. Singapore became home without us realising it."
Mrs Bablani decided to volunteer when her husband was deputed to London for a year in 2018.
"I had time on my hands and wanted to do something meaningful," she said.
"I went to Willing Hearts' soup kitchen with my mother and we cut vegetables because we are vegetarians.
"Wholly run by volunteers, the soup kitchen prepares, cooks and distributes about 7,000 daily meals to over 70 locations island-wide. I was simply awestruck.
"That day, as I returned home, I realised the impact that this group of volunteers were creating. Then and there I decided that I would collect food items and distribute them to the needy."
Initially, Mrs Bablani and a few friends collected all kinds of food items and rice bags from donors. But they found it a difficult physical task - storage space was also hard to find.
So, from 2020, the volunteers began to collect funds from donors and ordered the rice online which was then delivered by the vendors directly to the beneficiary organisations.
"I decided to narrow it down to rice because it's the staple food for most people," said Mrs Bablani. "Besides, it is easy to handle.
"I shared my idea and objectives with my friends and associates and those who were like-minded joined in. My Kindness Ripple movement grew to 45 volunteers."
Her modus operandi was simple: The volunteer leaders would reach out to their network via phone and social media requesting contributions and then each one would choose one beneficiary organisation to which the collections would be sent.
She developed a good bunch of women volunteers "because women are very philanthropic by nature".
"They are always keen to help," said Mrs Bablani. "Most of them are working, but do not mind spending time collecting funds for our food drive."
In 2018, The Kindness Ripple's 28 volunteers collected 1,300kg of food items and donated them to Food Bank Singapore.
In 2021, they set a Singapore Book of Records feat by donating 35,280kg of rice to six beneficiaries.
Last year, they collected 32,750kg of rice, which was donated to Sunlove Home, Sree Narayana Mission, Willing Hearts, Food From The Heart, Annalakshmi Community Meals Programme, SWAMI Home and Lions Home for the Elders.
"I have worked with Drishti since the start," said homemaker Rupali Nagpal, a volunteer leader with The Kindness Ripple.
"I was moved by her enthusiasm, selflessness and zeal in leading the initiative. I hope to continue working with her and others in trying to make a difference and contribute to society."
Entrepreneur Neetu Vaswani said: "Drishti motivated me by giving me the confidence that I can be a string in this noble cause. Her humble nature and strong motive to help all is remarkable."
Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chuan has praised Mrs Bablani's work.
"We can all extend simple acts of kindness to everyone. The ripple of kindness which Mrs Bablani started will make Singapore a better place for all," said Mr Lim.
"I just want to say to all the volunteers - well done! You are the people that make Singapore special.
"You are the people who have said that in good and bad times we want to step forward we want to make a difference in the life of others."
Mrs Bablani and her family are now integrated into Singapore society and have embraced the culture and traditions.
"We love to celebrate every festive occasion with our group of friends," she said.
"We love to celebrate Chinese New Year, my kids especially look forward forward to the hongbao every year.
"Lo hei is another hit with them as we have lots of fun. We also love the mooncakes and local food, especially Peranakan.
In 2015, Mrs Bablani became became a Singapore citizen.
"I love everything about Singapore, especially its multi-racial culture, receptiveness to other traditions and customs, futuristic planning, safety and great infrastructure," she said.
"I'm 100 per cent Singaporean now. This is home and I feel safe, well settled and well integrated. Going back to India is not something that I foresee."
Mrs Bablani feels it is important to do voluntary work as it will help Singapore immensely.
"If there are problems around us in the society, let us be the ones who act and help resolve them," she said.
"Our small contributions can make a big difference. I hope this inspires people to keep believing in the power of small acts of kindness."
Mrs Bablani hopes to organise her rice donation initiative every year and add more volunteers to her group.
"I love everything about Singapore, especially its multi-racial culture, receptiveness to other traditions and customs, futuristic planning, safety and great infrastructure. I'm 100 per cent Singaporean now. This is home and I feel safe, well-settled and well-integrated."
- Mrs Drishti Bablani Fifth in a six-part series, in collaboration with Gov.sg, which explores the journey and experiences
of people who have gone the extra mile to make Singapore their home