Meenakshi Sanghi and Belinda Fowler became friends while studying to be English teachers and both joined Aidha as ‘Improve your English’ mentors soon after. Passionate advocates for women’s education, they love that as Aidha volunteers they can make a practical difference in students’ lives.
Meenakshi and Belinda are also office volunteers and they’re a great help in Aidha’s events and marketing campaigns.
Meenakshi is from India though she has lived in other Asian countries throughout her life. She has now been in Singapore for almost 6 years and she has her hands full as a full-time homemaker with 2 teenage sons in tow (who also volunteer for Aidha!).
Belinda has been in Singapore for almost half a decade and has a wealth of experience in community engagement and working with charities. Both of them have always been passionate about social causes, so it was only natural for them to volunteer for an organisation like Aidha.
For Meenakshi, it all began when she wanted to be active and give something back. She has done some volunteer work and truly enjoyed the experience. So, she decided to take the CELTA course to learn to teach English. That was when they met and Meenakshi introduced Belinda to Aidha. Not only are Belinda and Meenakshi dedicated class mentors, but they are also much-valued marketing and events volunteers in the Aidha office and have become Volunteer Ambassadors, representing Aidha in the wider community.
As a mentor, Belinda finds it very rewarding seeing her students’ confidence grow as the module progresses. She says, “One of the things I see as so valuable is the way Aidha students, who start soft-voiced and tentative, start to speak out and make themselves heard. Aidha helps them to come into their own.” Meenakshi adds, “The students are so engaged and driven to educate themselves and I find that very satisfying as their mentor.”
Belinda and Meenakshi have met others who have inspired and supported them in their journey. For Meenakshi, her uncle was someone who has supported her when she was uncertain of her artistic skills as a child. Being an introverted child, her uncle’s encouragement was the push she needed to pursue art in school. Her husband and children also showed faith in her abilities and that encouraged her to have a go at things she always wanted to do.
It was a teacher’s unquestioning belief in her abilities and his encouragement that made a real impact on Belinda. She says, “My teacher showed confidence in me at a critical moment in my life and that made such a difference.” Having strong support systems in their lives to encourage and motivate them has only made Belinda and Meenakshi more sure of their decision to volunteer at Aidha.
We are ever-grateful to Belinda, Meenakshi and all our volunteers who give their time in so many ways to support Aidha. Their collective work will have an even larger long-term impact as students develop their skills and participate more fully in society.