Davinder Singh Rahal, well known in the community as a humble, soft-spoken man has been awarded a Queen’s Service Medal in the recent Queen’s birthday and Diamond Jubilee honours list for his services to the Indian community.
GAURAV GUPTA catches up with the community stalwart.
What was the first emotion that came to you when you heard of this honour coming to you?
This is very difficult to answer, but I believe that someone must believe that I must be doing some good deed.
How do you see your success today after you have won this prestigious honour and how do you value it?
I respect this honour and I accept it from my whole heart, but this is not my achievement or goal. I want to go further. This gives me motivation to go ahead. So I would still like to serve the community on a wider level.
You have been working for many years in the community, the Indian community knows you very well. Out of all the work that you have done, in your personal opinion what work are you most proud of?
I have been helping some religious societies and voluntary work, but I believe my work with the New Zealand Helping Hand Society, has really made me proud.
You have been involved in the Sikh community; you were also the president of the Auckland South Chapter of GOPIO, etc. But this Helping Hand Foundation is something not many people know about. Can you shed more light on it?
I found that, there are some people, who are living in council provided houses or retirement homes. In a retirement village, in my opinion they are well looked after. They get food on time, they've got facility for dishwashing, and they’ve got facility for many other things. They are looked after by nurses, doctors, etc. But many of them, sorry to say, but they are forgotten. Yes, they get some money, but that money is just enough to survive. So, we try and provide food to them.
Last time we put a nice classic packet of cheese and one lady was so happy to receive it. She said, “Oh, I am looking to buy this from the last two years”. It’s moments like these that make it worth the effort.
How often do you do this?
We do it every month. We service a large number of houses per month. Since we are in touch with the councils, they inform the people of when we are coming, so they are aware of it. This work is something I feel proud of.
And this is not particular to a specific religion or community?
No. It’s for everyone who needs it. When we go there, we know that it is someone in need who is going to receive the bag. We are not aware of the religion, race or ethnicity of the people.
You run a successful restaurant, Sangeet, you are a part of various community organizations and you run the Helping Hand Society. What keeps you going, how do you find time to do everything?
My wife, Jyoti, is very supportive and I really appreciate that support. She is the strength that allows me to move forward. She is like a pillar of strength for me.
Is she equally involved in all your activities?
Yes, she is equally involved, but behind the scenes.
One trait that has helped you reach so far in life, which you would like to share, or a piece of advice that you would like to give to new migrants who come here to make a better life?
In my opinion, always believe in practicing what is right and what is wrong. What is the truth? People are misguided all the time and visualise what they see. But they have to see beyond that, they have to open their eyes.
Any advice for young entrepreneurs, specially in the Indian community, wanting to get into the main stream?
Culturally we are very strong and we must hold on to that. Secondly, we're hard workers and we should hold on to that as well.
Who do you share this happiness of winning the award with? Your continuous support and inspiration?
This is a very nice question. I believe that I get the strength from my faith in God. I am totally connected with the supreme power. Without his blessing, I can not achieve what I have. I would like to thank God today.
Any other message you would like to give to our community?
I found there are a few organisations who are doing good work and I appreciate that, but we need one a solid platform. We celebrate our communities festivals, which is a good thing, however we need a platform where can also discuss the future of our community and where we will stand in the next five years. We need a platform where leaders from our community can come together and sort out the future of our community. What we do now, will reflect on the future generation. Now is the time to do this. It will help the Indian community to better integrate into the main stream. I would also like to tell my community to stick together.
What are you future prospects, with this new honour fueling you to do more?
We wish to expand the Helping Hand Society in other cities.
Do you take donations for this society, if people are interested in helping out?
I would be happier if people donated in kind rather than cash. Some sort of a product – like any food item would be better than cash. I am looking for sources. Any Indian restaurants wanting to help with surplus are most welcome. We are a small organisation, so we can sort the problems out quickly and that is what we look to do.
You can contact Davinder Rahal JP at 021-995665 or email@example.com