Selva Raju S/O Arumugam has always been very clear in what he wants to achieve for the community. Since his tertiary education at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), he was already actively involved in voluntary work. In 2010, he went on an overseas community project with fellow schoolmates to build a house and taught English to youths at Ban Natoe Village, Chiang Rai, Thailand.
An active volunteer and a leader with the Youth Corps Singapore (YCS), Selva brought with him experiences and knowledge to advance the causes of the wider community. Selva was trained to engage special needs people and in 2015, he taught young intellectually disabled children from MINDS the basics of financial literacy - about coins and notes. He also provided opportunities for them to visit the supermarket to purchase their own items so that they could be trained to be more independent.
Being in the YCS Special Needs Cluster as an organising committee member since December 2017, Selva worked with various VWOs such as Me2club, APSN and also Adults and Children with Autism and Intellectual Disability, taking them on visits to farms and nature parks. These activities enabled Selva to be an all-rounder in managing community service events and volunteers.
Wanting to do his part for the community, Selva took on the challenge to be a management committee member of Temasek Polytechnic (TP) Community Service Club (TPCSC) in 2017. That year, he spearheaded TPCSC’s signature project 3M Step-Up Challenge to garner participation from the TP community to climb steps which eventually translated to products donated by 3M.
With his prior experience in overseas trips, Selva was chosen to lead the TP’s Youth Expedition Project (YEP) 2018 team to Vietnam, Phong Thanh commune to continue the good work of the previous TPCSC student leaders. This team of 26 students were involved in conducting English and Science lessons to the children at the commune with the hope that through the interesting lessons conducted, the children might be inspired to read and learn and thereby help their families get out of poverty. The team also paved a 100-metre road to help with the commune’s transportation needs.
Here's what Selva has to say:
“To motivate others to become more caring, I believe we need to lead by example. This means expanding my own circle of influence of care for others, and gradually, the recipients will become agents of care and love as well.
Every time I demonstrated active listening and deep understanding, I can perceive that the recipients would feel valued and cared for. I would need to take time to listen and fully understand what others are trying to convey instead of just telling people what they should do. In this way, I am able to let my families and friends know that I care and understand them, and give constructive feedback. To me, it is the compassionate thing to do. Truly caring for another also means giving constructive feedback in a such a way that it does not make the person feel “wrong” or “small” for holding a different opinion from you.
For the past 13 years, I volunteered in many organizations and gained valuable experiences beyond the classroom. I have volunteered with elder care communities, youths-at-risk, sports and special-needs children and adults. These various community service events shaped me to be caring towards others around me and be appreciative and contented with what I have.
Over the past few years, I have worked closely with special needs children, teaching them financial literacy and bringing them out for excursions to improve their thinking skills. I feel blessed to be able to have constant interaction with them through my volunteering work. I learnt to look at the world through these children’s eyes. They taught me not to take things for granted and that communication is more than what we see on the surface. I realized that special needs children also need social support – the need to receive attention, to be understood and accepted. It is simply by ‘being’ with them that I truly understand them.
The special needs community always has the least number of willing, active volunteers, but this is increasingly changing as more people are coming forward to make a difference. Through the Youth Corps Singapore (YCS), I am grateful that specialists from the social services sector have guided me on programme planning and tips for befriending sessions. Inclusivity is a common goal and I believe that we can always start with ourselves. There are many organizations with wonderful platforms that provide a wide variety of volunteering opportunities, and I hope to encourage more youths to consider volunteering.”