Graduates take centerstage during Sunday Funday

Sunday Funday Chat With Our Students

Aidha’s monthly Sunday Fundays are one of the most popular campus activities that brings both past and present Aidha students, as well as non-students, together for a day of educational activities.

This month’s activity was a display of Aidha’s peer-supported learning at its best. Three graduates, Asha Cooray, Liza Padua and Tumini, generously agreed to be the featured speakers in a session entitled, “Chat with our Students”, where they shared about how much they’ve gained from studying at Aidha. The session was facilitated by long-time volunteer, Kate Vickery.

Let’s meet these three amazing ladies and see what they had to say!

Name: Asha Cooray
Nationality: Sri Lankan
Joined Aidha: May 2013

Asha previously had a short-lived salon business in Sri Lanka . In Singapore, she added aromatherapy and acupressure courses to her hairdressing, beauty and bridal dressing courses. She has just finished Module 2.

What was your most memorable Aidha experience?

“When I joined Aidha I was shy about speaking in front of audiences. The Leadership Club, where I had to give speeches, made me feel nervous, but I did it!”

What were some of the challenges you had?

“Sometimes it was hard to find time and energy to complete all the homework so I put a ‘HOMEWORK’ sign over my bed and answered one homework question each night.”

Tell us about your business plan.

I want to put up ‘Asha’s Beauty and Hair Care Salon’ in Sri Lanka by 2016, with an ethos of health and wellness, including bridal services and a juice bar. I want to share my business knowledge and set a good example for my young adult son and community.”

Name: Tumini
Nationality: Indonesian
Joined: January 2013
Graduated: 2014

Like Asha, Tumini from Madiun, East Java, has long dreamt of setting up a hair salon. She completed an international diploma in hairdressing in Singapore in 2011 and graduated from Aidha in 2014.

What was your most memorable Aidha experience?

“In Module 2, I learned business concepts and how to write a Business Plan for my dream hair salon business.”

What were some of the challenges you had?

“As an Indonesian, I wrote (my homework) in Bahasa then had to translate it to English. So it always took me twice as long to do my homework. But now my English is better.”

Tell us about your business plan.

“I want to put up ‘Mini’s Hair Couture’ salon for women in Indonesia by 2016. A ‘green’ hair salon that uses only natural products, not chemicals. One day I wish to help train the girls and women in my community so that no one needs to go abroad to work as domestic workers any more.”

Name: Liza Padua
Nationality: Filipino
Joined Aidha: 2008
Graduated: 2010

Like many women from developing countries, Liza sought employment overseas to earn better wages that would support her family and her plans to save. She currently owns multiple businesses – an achievement she profusely credits to the courses she took at Aidha.

Aidha Panel speakers“In the Compass Club, I set a savings goal of $50 per month for the first 3 months, and I managed to buy a water buffalo. Then I increased my goal to $100 per month and then up to $250. After 9 months, I managed to buy a one-hectare rice farm.

“Today, the rice farm is being managed by my brother. I also have employees from the community. Aside from the farm, I’m a silent partner in two other businesses involving frozen food deliveries and leasing houses.

“Because of these businesses, I’ve successfully put my four nephews and nieces through college.”

Asha, Liza and Tumini continue to actively volunteer at Aidha and are are members of the Alumni Development Programme – Aidha’s channel for providing on-going support to graduates through business workshops and leadership programmes, and the opportunity to connect with potential investors. All three ladies also shared that they’re currently saving to build their own houses back home.

Reynita, a current Aidha student who was in the audience was inspired by their stories: “I really love that session… I was inspired by the three ladies who shared what they went through.”

Hopefully, Reynita wasn’t the only one inspired. If you want to facilitate a Sunday Funday session or be an Alumni Development Programme mentor, please email We’re always looking for volunteers and would love to hear from you!

By Ting Claravall with contributions from Kate Vickery

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