A mother’s lesson in selflessness
As a child, Govind Bommi saw his mother helping people she didn’t even know.
Govind Bommi established the Andal Cares Fund in honour of his mother to support eldercare causes.
Govind Bommi’s mother, Andal, had always been a strong influence in his life since he was a child.
They were not well-to-do, living in a modest house in Bangalore, India. His parents had six children and lived off a single income. Yet, Govind’s mother was generous, even to strangers, he recalled. Despite having little, she would set aside a portion of cooked food – not leftovers – for beggars who would come around in the evening. He said, “She believed that if you had enough, you should share it with others because we are only temporary keepers of what we own.”
Her philosophy on helping others struck a chord with him and it became a guiding principle that motivated him to get involved with philanthropy. Sharing what his mother once told him, Govind said, “You don’t have to know people to help them. You get more in giving.”
About 20 years ago, the businessman moved to Singapore and laid down roots here. He founded a water filtration and purification company and met his wife here. He considers Singapore home, which is why he chose to give back where he lives. “This is my home now. It’s best to participate in the community where you live and find out how you can help others.”
In 2016, Govind approached the Community Foundation Singapore (CFS) on the advice of his lawyer to start the Andal Cares Fund, named in honour of his mother.
Before looking into CFS, he thought about setting up a trust fund on his own. But he realised it would take lots of time and resources, as he would have to hire the right people to run it and ensure that it met all the governance requirements.
“That (administration) takes me away from spending time with the beneficiaries. Through CFS, my money is well-managed and put to good use,” said Govind, who is now retired.
He was keen to support eldercare causes but wanted to gain a better understanding of the sector first. CFS took him to several non-profit organisations such as nursing homes and rehabilitation centres.
“Through the visits, I got a clearer idea of the different types and needs of eldercare support here. CFS helped to build on my interests, and hone in on the causes I want to support so that I could find a focus for my giving. CFS knows the gaps and needs in the community and where funding is effectively needed.”
He chose to support rehabilitation programmes run by Metta Welfare Association. In addition to making the donation, he volunteers at the centre every Thursday to keep the seniors company.
He said, “CFS did an excellent job of setting up and managing my charitable fund. It took care of all the ground work for me. That’s a big relief for me as it frees up my time to concentrate on my philanthropy, and enabled my giving to be strategic and sustainable as I’m in this for the long haul.”