Getting an award is surely the best recognition of one’s hard work, dedication and commitment towards work. And if an award is bestowed by a government of your adopted country, it becomes even more special. One such inspiring story is that of Poonam Chaudhary, who has been honoured with the prestigious Public Service Commissioner's Commendation for Frontline Excellence award this year among 11 others.

The award is annually presented for outstanding spirit of service shown by a public servant.

Poonam, who works as a Housing Broker with the Ministry of Social Development since 2016, says getting this award is a dream come true. Speaking to Indian Weekender, she says, “I am delighted to have been conferred with this award, and it is a dream come true. This award will inspire and motivate me to work harder. I feel humbled but at the same time, I do feel that I have more responsibility on my shoulders. It is probably the first time someone in our community has got this award, and that makes it even more special. This is the highest award that a government official can get, and I truly feel blessed. I feel that I have made India proud and that’s an amazing feeling especially being a woman.”

The 41-year-old, who hails from Haryana, India, and migrated to New Zealand in 2011, reveals that it hasn’t been an easy journey. “When I came to New Zealand as a student, everything was so new for me. I always wanted to work for government and help New Zealanders and I got that chance when I joined the Ministry of Social Development in the year 2016 as a Customer Service Representative in the contact centre. Over the years, I kept keeping my hundred per cent and kept getting good opportunities and today I am a Housing Broker. I have worked very hard to achieve my goals and my journey was full of challenges. For someone who comes from overseas, you have to prove yourself even more, but when your hard work is recognised it gives so much satisfaction and happiness. I am so thankful for the support I have received from the Ministry of Social Development as well my family including my husband and three daughters throughout my journey.”

Poonam, however, regrets that she could not attend the award ceremony, which took place on November 8 at Government House in Wellington. Due to the Covid 19 travel restrictions, Poonam, who lives in Henderson, Auckland, couldn’t travel to Wellington. She says, “I wish I could have been at the ceremony to receive my award, but I understand the rules and protocols. My award is still sitting in Wellington.”

Talking about her future plans, Poonam intends to eradicate homelessness. In future she wants to start an NGO in the cause of women empowerment which is very close to her heart. "It is my dream to start an NGO for women who go through family violence and face hardships. God willing, when the right time will come, I will be able to start it,” signs off Poonam.