Sisters create website to help those in need

Ms Nishka Menon (left), 21, and her sister Ayesha, 17, showing their website hopebound, which collates resources for people affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Ms Nishka Menon (left), 21, and her sister Ayesha, 17, showing their website hopebound, which collates resources for people affected by the coronavirus pandemic.PHOTO: COURTESY OF NISHKA AND AYESHA MENON

Concerned about the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the needy and vulnerable, two siblings decided to pitch in.

Ms Nishka Menon, 21, and Ayesha, 17, created hopebound (www.hopebound.one), which collates resources for people affected by the pandemic, including those who have lost their jobs, domestic abuse victims, as well as the young and the elderly.

"We hope to make people aware of the resources by giving them one platform with all the information they need," said Nishka, a second-year student at Queen Mary University of London who is now back in Singapore.

The pair launched the website at the end of last month, along with a free mentorship scheme for the unemployed.

They began scouting for mentors among people they knew personally, creating a list of different industries they hoped to cover.

The project snowballed as those contacts then roped in others in their industries. Now, there are about 40 mentors on board.

Most have about 15 to 20 years of experience in fields such as finance, education, consulting and shipping.

Nishka and Ayesha have already helped to link the mentors with 35 people.

The programme allows people to engage the mentors anonymously, as being jobless can be a sensitive issue for some, said Ayesha, a student at the United World College of South East Asia (East Campus).

Mentors help with editing resumes and cover letters, as well as providing help with practising for job interviews - services not usually offered for free, said Nishka.

Mr Gautam Kumar Roy, 62, president of shipping firm J M Baxi & Co, helps people format and edit job applications, and offers vocational guidance in shipping and logistics, sectors where he has clocked 31 years of experience.

He said: "This platform is designed to come to the aid of people distressed by the global pandemic, in terms of jobs and livelihoods, and it is a noble endeavour worthy of our support."

The sisters plan to roll out free counselling next month, in particular for victims of domestic abuse, but with the potential to expand to others who need help.

BEYOND MONETARY HELP

We realised we can help by offering these programmes, other than provide money which is already covered by so many professional organisations. If we can find others who are genuinely keen to help, we can work together to assist more people.

MS NISHKA MENON, on hopebound, which provides help such as a free mentorship scheme for the unemployed.

Three counsellors and psychologists have agreed to help so far, and the siblings are hoping to add two more.

Said Nishka: "We realised we can help by offering these programmes, other than provide money which is already covered by so many professional organisations.

"If we can find others who are genuinely keen to help, we can work together to assist more people."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2020, with the headline 'Sisters create website to help those in need'. Print Edition | Subscribe