V.K. SANTOSH KUMAR
The average weight of an adult Asian elephant is 4,000kg.
A Singaporean and her band of volunteers collected 32,750kg of rice - the weight of eight such elephants - in a month and donated it to charities.
Over the past five years, Mrs Drishti Bablani has shown how small acts of kindness can create big impacts.
The 45-year-old's The Kindness Ripple movement, which she started in April 2018, focuses on collecting and donating rice to charity organisations.
From 28 volunteers and 1,300kg of food items collected and donated to Food Bank Singapore that year, her project has grown to 45 volunteers, who set a Singapore Book of Records feat last year by donating 35,280kg of rice to six beneficiaries.
This 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.
Last Saturday, Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chuan presented Mrs Bablani and the 45 volunteers with certificates and mementos at the Singapore Sindhi Association for their efforts.
"I am always very grateful to her and her efforts to raise so much rice for the beneficiaries," he said.
"We have just come out of the Covid situation and many businesses are suffering, but she was able to motivate the volunteers and raise a tremendous amount of rice.
"I just want to commend her and her team for what they have done. It is very impactful, especially to the many beneficiaries who will feel they can cut down on their costs because of the generous donation of rice."
Mrs Bablani and her team collected the 32,750kg rice between April 11 and May 11 this year.
"I have been keeping to this model of one month because we don't want to be reaching out to people all the time," said Mrs Bablani, an IT team lead at Standard Chartered Bank.
"Everybody has limited capacity of time - even the volunteer leaders.
"This one month is when Indians and Chinese have very auspicious days, and it is the period to give."
Mrs Bablani has also followed the model of recruiting volunteer leaders, who would reach out to their own network and do the collections.
Initially, they took physical deliveries of the rice but storage and delivering the rice to the beneficiaries became a problem.
Since the past two years, Mrs Bablani has opted for online delivery. Money is taken from donors and orders are placed online.
Mrs Bablani, who hails from Gandhidham, a city in Gujarat, India, recruits volunteers by spreading the word about the movement to her circle of friends and family. Some also reach out to her when they read about the initiative on Facebook.
Volunteer Ami Selarka, who has helped out since 2018, said: "I was very touched by what Mrs Bablani was doing. It gives me immense happiness to collect rice for the needy.
"She is a fantastic leader. She keeps everyone together. It is such a nice and noble cause."
Amazingly, Mrs Bablani and her team of volunteers were able to make people donate generously even as Covid continues to linger.
"She is a very energetic lady with a heart of gold," said Mr S. Devendran, CEO, Sree Narayana Mission.
"Last year, we got 2,000kg of rice. This year, it has more than doubled. Such donations help us defray our operating expenses.
"On average, we use 1,500kg of rice a month at our nursing home. This donation will last us at least three months."
Mrs Bablani is happy she can make a difference to society. "My biggest achievement has been to bring out that little good in everybody," she said.
"In this era, everybody is into themselves. But everybody has this wish to do something good. And giving that opportunity to people has been my biggest win.
"In the process, I've also been able to bring up so many leaders who will be able to do this at a greater scale."
Mrs Bablani hopes to organise this initiative every year.