The Good Things About Doing Good Things | Riya Didwania, Swire Trust Go-Givers of 2022
Together with Time Auction, the Swire Trust Go-Givers Program encourages skilled volunteers for Swire Trust NGO partners from 2020 to 2022. 10 outstanding volunteers will be selected annually as the “Swire Trust Go-Givers of the Year” with special rewards & recognition. Meet our 10 Go-Givers of 2022!
When Riya Didwania was a young girl living in India, she witnessed how the poor and disabled grappled with the harsh reality of life. While most children simply watched on the periphery, Riya rolled up her sleeves and took part to help. Following the footsteps of her grandfather, who donated food, her father, who donated money, and her mother, who donated skills, Riya decided to also donate what she had: her time. With hopes of helping deaf children by chatting with them in sign language, she was surprised to be greeted with the lovely bright smiles on their faces. At that exact moment, she vowed to embark on a life-long journey of volunteering.
A heart set out to do good
Today, Riya has grown from a young girl to a young professional. Specializing in product operations and research, she works in the booming city of Hong Kong after years of moving around the world. Having returned to Hong Kong in 2021, the first thing she wanted to do was to find volunteer opportunities, especially since she could now make long-term commitments.
Eager to learn more about her new home through volunteering, Riya asked about opportunities proactively. When she reached out to her colleagues and boss, they suggested Time Auction’s matching platform. Straightaway, she started applying to different volunteer opportunities on its user-friendly website. Although some were unsuccessful, as she did not speak Cantonese, Riya's strong determination to volunteer pushed her to keep trying until she found a suitable match.
Indeed, those who persist in doing good will be rewarded. Soon, she found an unbelievably tailor-made opportunity to work with the Zubin Foundation, an NGO focused on assisting ethnic minorities in Hong Kong. As an Employability Trainer, Riya would advise students who signed up for thematic counseling sessions on resume building, interview skills, office manners, public speaking, and time management.
When working with these students, Riya's Indian background was helpful in genuinely understanding the difficulties that her South-Asian students were facing. Sharing a common culture and speaking similar languages also enabled them to build a solid and genuine bond with each other quickly.
Often, her fruitful mentorship would continue after the 30-minute appointment. Sometimes, students sign-up for another session with her again; other times, her students update her on their successful internship applications. For these underprivileged students, a quick chat with a tutor could make a huge difference. For Riya, it is incredibly satisfying to see that her volunteer work has positively impacted others' lives.
Furthermore, she is pleased to have developed an excellent partnership with the Zubin Foundation, whose coordinator, Talha, entrusts Riya with last-minute student sign-ups and volunteer pull-outs, and describes Riya as “a wonderful volunteer to have”.
Whether it is the students or the NGO workers, Riya feels fortunate to be connected with people she would not have encountered otherwise.
"One of the priceless benefits of volunteering is that it brought a lot of good people into my life," Riya reflected.
Good made easy
At the same time, Riya's experience proved that she could fulfill her hope to volunteer without having to sacrifice other aspects of her life. For example, she could select the counselling sessions that fitted around her work schedule and leisurely activities, and she could still volunteer even if she only had a short period of free time. Such a high degree of flexibility allows Riya to make all the little segments of unused time in her day meaningful and productive.
Moreover, volunteering work that is conducted online, like this one, helps the volunteer save transportation time and makes it possible to continue even when the volunteer is not in Hong Kong, like Riya at the moment. With such great convenience, Riya thinks that “there is really no reason not to volunteer.”
Good to be continued
For Riya, receiving the Swire Trust Go-Givers of the Year award is undoubtedly an encouraging recognition for her hard work and motivates her to do even more volunteering in the future. While the incentives are attractive, Riya doesn't volunteer because of them. Instead, she is committed to volunteering because it can bring a lot of good things to you as well as others: “I realized that volunteering is a two-way street. Sometimes it feels like volunteering is just you giving back to society, but I realized that you learn so much in this whole process. You’re a different person once you do volunteering projects.”
Thank you so much to Riya for contributing 20 volunteer hours & beyond at the Zubin Foundation!
To see details of the Swire Trust Go-Givers Program and support their NGO partners, head over to Time Auction website.
Written by Margaret Ng, Volunteer Copywriter