Liyana Dhamirah, 35, is an Entrepreneur, Author and Singapore’s 2020 General Election Candidate. Having gone through a period of homelessness, Liyana has emerged stronger through her struggles and even wrote an award-winning book, “Homeless: The Untold Story of a Mother’s Struggle in Crazy Rich Singapore”.

Liyana is also the recipient of the “Woman of Resilience” award from AWARE, was featured as part of the 100 Singapore Women honored for outstanding achievements in tech by Singapore Computer Society and highlighted in the South East Asian Women Leaders collective. She was recently invited to deliver her maiden speech on the TEDx Singapore stage. Work and life as a mother of four keep her busy, but in between it all, Liyana actively advocates for lower-income and underprivileged families. Today she shares more about the things that she does, and the causes behind them!

Tell us more about what you do!

I manage my own business, Virtual Assistants Singapore (VA-SG), wrote my first memoir, which was published in 2019, and for the past two years, I’ve been working full-time with the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE).

When I first joined AWARE, I helped to digitize the operations of their corporate training arm while volunteering my time to help out at the Women’s CARE Centre (WCC) department, due to the rise of COVID-19 cases. I am currently helping to manage and oversee the tech and daily operations of the Women’s Helpline and WCC’s monthly Legal Clinics.

Currently, my team and I in VA-SG are working very hard to launch our next book project, “My Meaningful Life: A Guided Journal for Tweens and Teens aged 11 to 17 years old”.

What motivates you to do this?

I found inspiration since I embarked on my own self development journey in 2010, when my young children and I rose up and out of homelessness. My growing children, as well as the pain of going through and healing from various traumas in my life, are my primary sources of motivation.

I kickstarted my own business when I faced discrimination in workplace and hiring. I wrote my memoir when I observed that injustice was blatantly present. With the depth of my life experiences, I work alongside non-profit organizations with the hope of achieving gender equality, and women and children’s rights.

You could say that both my inspiration and motivation were discovered and driven by the harsh realities and truths of today’s world. Authenticity is what keeps me going in all that I do.

Have you faced any challenges so far? And how did you overcome them?

The myriad of challenges I faced reached a peak when I became a young single mother and had very little to no stable financial means to support my children. This, however, led to the significant turning point in my life where I found myself on a journey to learn more about financial management and developing an entrepreneurial attitude.

In this journey, I discovered more than one way of earning an income and developed multiple streams to finance my small family needs. I adopted a growth mindset and approached challenges that came my way with tenacity. In hindsight, my one key learning is that I changed what is invisible first – my mindset – in order to achieve the changes in the visible, my kids and my life.

If you could share one piece of advice with your fellow youth, what would it be?

Work on overcoming your fears and doubts by finding reliable real life mentors or role models. You will be surprised by your own capabilities and over time, realize that you are enough to be the change that you are seeking. Develop the curiosity and desire to learn – never stop learning no matter your age as knowledge and wisdom are the greatest wealth in life.

What are your hopes or plans for the future? What do you want to see or perhaps do?

My hope is for youths to fear less and be more confident about their ideas. I hope to see a more respectful, caring society where we can share openly about our struggles and are inclusive in all that we do, sharing our wins together.

I wish to see more young leaders rising up to resolve our past generation’s mistakes and to lead with empathy.

This article was published on Mar 12, 2022

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