Man with a Heart of GoldWebmaster
Ashok Kumar Dharamdass, 70, has been wearing a volunteer hat for decades. Giving back to society has been deeply ingrained in him since young and he finds fulfilment through his contributions.
This Bachelor of English Studies (BEST) and Master of English Studies (MEST) alumnus shares, “My passion in charity work began back during my schooling days when I joined various organisations such as the Red Cross and St John’s Ambulance. Just give me a donation box and I would immediately go around town collecting money. That’s how enthusiastic I am about helping others.”
A retiree who used to work as a general manager at a multinational company, this big-hearted man has shifted his focus to volunteerism. He keeps himself busy by helping out at a community kitchen which distributes food and groceries to people in his community in Ipoh, Perak.
He feels the need to volunteer as it is better than just talking and commenting without actually lifting a finger. He’s putting his words into action and finds satisfaction in helping others.
He admits that many Malaysians are in dire need of help due to the pandemic. His most unforgettable experience was seeing the huge disparity between the rich and poor. “While in Kulim, Kedah, I saw this huge bungalow and a run-down house located next to each other. How could this happen when there are children who go to school without books or stationery?”
His charity work does not keep him away from his family as Ashok is very much a family man. A devoted grandfather, he is particularly attached to his three-year-old granddaughter and spends most of his spare time with his wife to make up for lost moments when he was busy finishing his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Ashok signed up for BEST in 2011 and completed it in 2015. He then went on to enrol in MEST a year later and successfully graduated in 2019. “I was in Sunway Carnival Mall in Seberang Jaya when I came across the OUM booth. The staff there did a good job of convincing me that I finally signed up,” he shares.
“I met many lecturers who inspire me during my studies. I learnt research skills, and made new friends. Also, the OUM staff in Seberang Jaya, Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur were extremely helpful.”
Ashok loves English and enjoys reading. “I usually go to the library but since it’s closed now, I read and find reading materials online.”
Reading is an enriching experience but Ashok feels he can also enrich others by volunteering. Giving back to the community doesn’t just benefit the recipients, it also benefits the giver. His act of generosity and kindness knows no limits. With everything he has achieved, Ashok is delivering the message that heroes do come in all shapes and sizes.
By Izyan Diyana Merzuki