After dedicating 14 years of her prime years looking after late parents as a full-time caregiver, it was community service that gave Jayanthi a renewed sense of purpose and a new lease of life.
Jayanthi’s caregiving journey started in 1987 right after her O-levels examinations. She was only 16 years old, and is the youngest among one sister and three brothers, of which one of them passed away when he was very young. Both her parents were not feeling well. After her parents passed on, she started her working life in 2004 after she was past 30 years of age.
When Jayanthi recounted her caregiving journey, she said with an immense sense of gratitude, “People may say that it is a sacrifice but I don’t think so. I didn’t regret it; it is my duty looking after my parents and I enjoy my journey. There were many sweet memories looking after them. It gives me peace looking after them; I feel blessed looking after them.”
Despite being the youngest child, she stepped up to take care of her mother, whom she was very close to, when she fell ill. She would accompany her mother for regular hospital visits. She was so familiar with her mother’s medical needs that others often mistook her for a stay-in nurse. In her mother’s later years when she was wheelchair-bound, Jayanthi knew exactly how to bathe her, carry her and transfer her to the wheelchair in a way that is most comfortable for her mother. She also helped with babysitting her siblings’ children, cleaned and cooked for the family, as well as looking after her father when he was sick.
At her father’s request, Jayanthi started community work when she was 25 years old. Her father wanted her to be exposed to the outside world since she was caring for them full-time, and therefore, could not commit to full-time work.
Since then, Jayanthi never looked back. She has been active in community work for 28 years, of which she was Chairman of Indian Executive Committee (IEC) for Chong Pang division for 3 terms. At the beginning of community service, the initial grassroots leaders she met became her second family. They brought her out for outings and celebrated her birthdays. Over the years, she has helped organise bi-annual events since 2004, such as the National Tamil Debate which were telecast live on Vasantham. In addition, Jayanthi and her team also organised annual Deepavali and Tamil New Year events such as concerts with invited singers from abroad and goodie bag distribution to needy families in Chong Pang. She also linked these families to relevant sources of help such as Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA). On a regular basis, Jayanthi also volunteered twice a week at two Tamil temples in Nee Soon. Being an active grassroot leader for an extended period of time, Jayanthi learnt that, “It gives me happiness by making other people’s lives happy. At the end of our life, we can’t bring anything with us. We can only leave behind the love we have given out.”
For her dedication towards community service, Jayanthi was named the first runner-up in the inaugural Yishunite of the Year in 2020. The second installation of the Yishunite of the Year 2021 is upon us. Organised by Nee Soon Town Council, this award seeks to recognise Nee Soon GRC residents who have contributed to the community and embodies the spirit of service and giving.
If you know of anyone who fits the criteria, nominate him/her by heading to www.nstc.org.sg/yoty21 so that his/her story can inspire more to give back to our community, a Home with a Heart.