“I’m the co-founder of Air Amber. Our realm of work is community development, and what we try to do is to build communities from within.

What do I mean? Well, traditionally, when we talk about charity work, we look at marginalised or needy communities and do a needs analysis. People would ask, what do these people need?

We don’t believe in that model. We subscribe to the idea of assets-based community development. Instead of using the traditional needs analysis, we flip it around and ask these people what their strengths, assets and skills are. More importantly, we ask what their interests and passions are. Based on that, we try to build a community.

However, before we can even think about helping a community, we need to build relationships with the people. The only way to know about their skills and strengths is through conversation. From there, we co-develop different initiatives together, but yes, the idea is to always build a relationship first.

I was spurred to do this because of my co-founder Suraj. He was triggered to do this after coming back from the brothels of Calcutta. He was overwhelmed by what he experienced and shared his story with me. I personally wanted to do this because I was inspired to help others realise their potential.

I went through a rough patch at the end of secondary school, but my rugby coach dared lend a helping hand when I needed it. He gave me multiple opportunities – mostly through leadership positions in school and rugby – to shine and realise my potential. That relationship inspired me to do what I’m doing now.” – Shah, 28

This interview was conducted at “The Human Library” event in Singapore – an initiative by Etch Empathy – where Shah participated as a human book. Click here to find out more.



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