Bringing about positive changes in the lives of underprivileged children is the vision of Anne Rajaisakaran, the CEO of Budimas Charitable Foundation, a leading local charity foundation under the MAA group. In a conversation with Top 10 of Malaysia, Anne spoke at length on her passion for helping the needy, goals achieved and future initiatives in tapping into other demographics requiring assistance.
Having been involved for more than a decade in ensuring underprivileged children live in a secure and happy environment, Anne Rajaisakaran has successfully executed ongoing projects within the areas of home support, food charity fund and rural libraries for small communities. The passion and dedication combined with the support from an equally committed team have kept the momentum going despite the challenging work and numerous stakeholders at all levels, locations and demographics.
The passion to help others is a lifelong ambition of Anne. Trained in law and communications combined with commercial experience, Anne symbolises the right talent for championing the marginalised and underprivileged. “Although my initial interests were in the oil and gas industry, having worked for Chevron, I have come to realise that my true calling lies in helping the marginalised especially children,” quips Anne. A Malacca girl from an army family, the experiences in connecting with people within the country and externally in the United States, has provided a deeper and wider perspective on societal needs. “It has helped me empathise socially,” says Anne, “The continuous relocations have sharpened my adaptability skills to fitting in quickly and understanding others.” Although petite in stature, the abounding dynamism for achieving results through a people-oriented organisation was quite apparent.
Subsequent to working for various industries including the oil and gas and hospitality industry after college, Anne took on the leadership of Budimas Charitable Foundation in 2007. “My vision of self-sustainability that is to be independent financially and in our work, have been successful,” explains Anne, “And my plans to help more and more underprivileged children is being realised as it is the main reason for our existence.”
The three core projects of Budimas consists of financial support for 100 children’s homes, a food charity fund for 6,000 schoolgoing children and managing libraries for Orang Asli communities under the Budimas education charity fund. The foundation also manages a children’s home in Negeri Sembilan. “We work closely with the homes and the local welfare services,” says Anne, “We ensure that the homes are legally compliant and audited in financial and service execution. As for results, school attendances and students’ health have improved and most importantly there is an increased focus on their studies,” says Anne happily, “Actually, half of our battle is won when they show up at school and start reading books.”
“The growth and success of Budimas is attributed to my staff,” beams Anne proudly. The 30 staff team, expanded from the original two, include newcomers who are extremely committed and passionate in ensuring children are suitably fed, clothed and at least achieve the bare minimum of a Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia certification.
“The numbers we have achieved from home support and the food plan have exceeded our target milestones having covered most states in Malaysia,” says Anne, “And as for libraries, the target of 12 libraries is in progress with four completed and two in the pipeline.”
“Undoubtedly there are challenges, the main one being re-educating the Malaysian mindset and perception towards charitable causes,” says Anne, ‘‘In most cases, honest communications helps in clearing anxieties.” The future plans of Budimas include extending help to refugee communities.
“My greatest achievement in life is watching my own children aged five, four and two grow up,” says Anne. “I switch off my work mode after 7 pm daily and spend my weekends mainly outdoors with them with regards to work-life balance,” says Anne.
“My advice for newcomers who are interested to pursue a career in the similar field is to have a clear vision and mission, do in-depth research and reduce expectations. It is important to observe and keep an open mind as this is a public-centric profession,” shares Anne.