'I want to help people together with them'

Randhir Singh is Mission East's new Country Director in Tajikistan. He is passionate about giving the poor a chance for a better life because he himself grew up in a society with underprivileged neighborhoods. 

The energy almost radiates from the computer screen as we interview Mission East's new Country manager Director in Tajikistan.

Randhir Singh is sharply focused on the tasks he is now tackling: emergency aid, water supply and development over a wide range in a society marked by the climate crisis. Always in close cooperation with citizens and organizations in local communities. And always with the aim of educating and making them independent, so that one day they can manage without external support.

Inspired by his upbringing

Randhir Singh's country of birth is India, where he grew up among poor and underprivileged people. Their fate has etched itself into his consciousness. And this is basically the reason why he got involved in aid work, and applied for the position of Country Director in Mission East:

- I am very passionate about helping people and being with them while we help, he points out.

So you don't just give relief and leave again?

- No, I want to stick with the locals. Be with them. Do what I can to heal them. I have aimed at that since I was a child. I grew up among underprivileged people who did not have the same qualifications as me. Many did not even have the opportunity to go to school. Since then I have wanted to help the poor.

Randhir Singh lost his father years ago, but his mother still lives at home in India:

- I would very much like to acknowledge my mother, because she is a very kind-hearted person. From the beginning, she has kept me motivated and said, “No matter where you are, always try to help people as much as you can!” She is my constant source of motivation.

Experience from India, Afghanistan, Middle East and East Africa

Randhir Singh holds a Master's degree in both Agricultural Science and Business Administration. After university, he was employed by the Indian state of Rajasthan to implement the government's plans for agriculture, food security and livelihoods. Since then, his career has moved fast forward as Singh has been employed by both the UN and various aid organizations in Afghanistan, Middle East and East Africa.

As Mission East's Country Director in Tajikistan, he also draws on many years of experience as Country Director for aid organizations in Sudan, Kenya, Somalia, Iraq, South Sudan and Uganda.

What are your plans as Country Director in Tajikistan?

- In the next weeks and months, I will identify the needs and the most important reasons why the needs arise. Climate change plays a major role in Tajikistan, increases the vulnerability to natural hazards. Periods of drought and flash floods, landslides and mudslides, avalanches etc. create many problems for local people. So we work a lot with building climate and disaster resilience, and enhancing environmental sustainability, safe water supply, good hygiene and proper sanitary conditions, etc. In addition, we are supporting national partners to improve rights and services for children and people with disabilities in country.

'We help people to help themselves'

How do you go about it?

- It depends on the specific needs of the local communities. But as a general rule, we strengthen the local people's capacity to solve their problems themselves. We help people help themselves and their communities. This is done in collaboration with national partners including local civil society organisations, which implement various projects.

How will you build their capacity?

- Firstly, they already know a lot, and in many areas they know more than we do! We bring our experiences from other areas and countries and offer our expertise. We just complement each other.


- We must remember that as a foreign organization we are always outsiders. They know their communities much better than we do. So we learn a lot from them, such as the needs and pains of the locals, what we can do and where to start.

- They may need administrative capacity, communication with donors, systems to write good reports and proposals for funding, have policies and procedures in place, etc. It all helps to build trust with the donors and the government, and that is the key. If there are no reports and evaluations and two-year plans, they lose the trust of the donors. So we help build all that, so that one day they are able to stand on their own without external support from Mission East.

Success: That we are no longer needed

Mission East has got an energetic Country Director in Randhir Singh, but he does not spill his energy. When asked what his criterion for success is, he promptly replies:

- The criterion for success is that communities are empowered and self-sufficient to address their issues and needs thus external support is no longer needed. Then we can help in areas where there is more need for help!

In his spare time, Randhir enjoys hiking while listening to self-help books on the phone.

- Walking sets me free and makes room for new thoughts. I also like music. I listen to the various genres of Indian music as well as Sufi music.

Randhir Singh is married and the father of two adult daughters, one of whom is media professional and other one is building her career in corporate psychology. His wife still lives in India but will soon join Randhir in the couple's new home in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.