C Ponnusamy

70yr old, Mr Ponnusamy is one of the many pioneers who contributed to the Singapore community beyond the realm of his work. Ponnusamy fondly recalls his early years in Johor, Ulutiram estate where he spent the days swimming, jumping and fishing in the river. When he first arrived in Malaysia with his father in 1951, he lived a carefree life. Yet all this changed when his father decided to bring him to Singapore to join the Ramakrishna Mission.


“My father was very determined to give me a good education.”

There were no tutors in Ramakrishna Mission to guide Ponnusamy academically when he got back from school. However, he proudly remembers being one of the top students in class during his school days. He believes what allowed him to cope well was his interest in acquiring more knowledge. Coming from India where English was not the first language, the young Ponnusamy struggled to gain good command of the language while excelling in other subjects.


“Doing well in studies came naturally for me.”

Life was not a bed of roses for Ponnusamy who recollects that finance was always an issue. His selfless younger brother, used to send his hard earned money to him to help finance his education. Ponnusamy also had to work part-time in the wee hours of the morning as he still required more money and wished to reduce his father’s burden who still had a daughter to marry off. His life was a constant struggle as he rose up the educational ladder but this struggle did eventually come to an end.

“I used to distribute newspapers in the morning. I would walk instead of cycle.”

Till today Ponnusamy and his family enthusiastically return to Ramakrishna Mission to do volunteer work. Ever since the formation of the Old Boys Association, a handful of his friends join him in organising events at the Home.

However, he displayed disappointment when he reflected upon the lack of voluntary spirit amongst some of the old boys of the Home. He does understand that current lifestyles have become hectic, but remains hopeful that this voluntary spirit will be continued by the younger generation.


“After us, I am not sure if the younger generation will step forward to volunteer.”

Even at this ripe age, Ponnusamy and his friends constantly give back to society whenever they can. Since he has the capacity to give back to the Home which nurtured him into the man he is today, and also to society, Ponnusamy voluntarily contributes to these two bodies wholeheartedly. These deeds bring unmatchable gratification to Ponnusamy just like the saying "Happiness does not result from what we get but what we give" by Ben Carson

“Without them I will not be here.
Now it it time for me to give back.”

Ponnusamy kept reverting to the disciplined life he led at Ramakrishna home. He strongly believes the life he led there chiseled his character and habits which later guided him to go far in life. He remembers waking up early every day to pray, helping out with keeping the Home clean, studying conscientiously during the planned periods of time and sleeping on the hard concrete floor as there were no beds there during the early days. Needless to say Ramakrishna Mission will always hold a special place in Ponnusamy’s heart.

“I grew up there and it shaped my character.”


A dedication to the pioneers in the Indian community.

50Faces brings your stories of ordinary Singaporeans who have contributed to our community and nation building.