“People think that you have to be rich in order to make a difference in someone’s life,” muses Datin Sri Umayal Eswaran. “But they forget that giving back doesn’t only come in grand gestures or monetary support. It can happen in simple acts of kindness, like feeding a hungry person or lending our time and skills to social causes.”
As the chairperson of QI Group’s award-winning social impact arm, RYTHM Foundation, Umayal lives this belief every day as she spearheads strategic programmes in line with the foundation’s three pillars of education for all, female empowerment and gender quality, and sustainable community development. Partnering with NGOs and grassroots organisations, RYTHM Foundation has uplifted communities in the Southeast Asian region and around the world through its holistic educational programmes, grant-making and volunteer engagement projects. Many of RYTHM Foundation’s programmes have won awards abroad in Indonesia, India and Ghana, as well as here in Malaysia.
“I believe that change begins with no one else but you,” Umayal adds. “Living life to the fullest means rising above and beyond who you are and your circumstances. If you can’t raise yourself, you can’t expect to help someone else.
"The acronym RYTHM itself stands for ‘Raise yourself to help mankind’, a phrase coined by my husband Dato' Sri Vijay Eswaran. RYTHM is our guiding light and the philosophy behind everything we do at the foundation."
Convinced that every child has the right to an education, Umayal is a passionate advocate of bringing holistic education to underserved communities to empower and uplift them towards improved livelihoods.
“Unlike mass educational systems which heavily emphasise academic abilities, holistic education also focuses on the personal development of children’s emotional, social, psychological, creative and spiritual growth,” she says. “In the context of the underserved communities that we work with, a quality and holistic education that plays towards the strengths of the individual or the overall community is a game-changer, as we have seen through the impact of our programmes.”