Volunteering is ‘a calling’: Singer Stefanie Sun’s husband on why he left behind a life of comfort

SINGAPORE – He had led a charmed life but felt the need for something deeper – purpose.

In a first-person account on Pioneer, a magazine focused on the Singapore Armed Forces, Mr Nadim van der Ros – who married Singaporean singer-songwriter Stefanie Sun in 2011 – shares his 13-year volunteering journey.

Born in Jakarta, Mr van der Ros said he was immediately placed for adoption and received generous financial support from an unknown benefactor. It is not clear why Mr van der Ros was placed for adoption.

Within a year, he was adopted by a Dutch couple and moved to Singapore where he lived for about two years, the beginning of his affinity with the country.

The family later moved to England, and Mr van der Ros attended prestigious schools.

Privilege, said Mr van der Ros, handed him opportunities such as an internship and a full-time job in Hong Kong, where he met his wife Sun, now 45.

However, Mr van der Ros, 46, was not content to simply lead a comfortable life.

“I wanted to express my gratitude for the community around me and the privileges I’d enjoyed, by serving others,” said Mr van der Ros, who was then a marketing professional.

In 2010, he gave up his successful career as a senior marketing executive in Singapore and founded a consulting firm to help social organisations with brand strategy. The social enterprise held monthly events showcasing social initiatives in Singapore.

His volunteering efforts soon grew from fundraising to hands-on contributions such as serving as a first aider with the Singapore Red Cross Society and leading missions to Batam, Indonesia with housing charity Habitat for Humanity to build houses for low-income families.

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