Najib surprises community hero on Deepavali

Najib surprises community hero on Deepavali
Happy occasion: Najib, Letchumi (on his right) and her family sharing a light moment during the Prime Minister’s surprise visit to her home.

PETALING JAYA - It was a very special Deepavali for community hero Letchumi Natarajan when Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak surprised her with a visit to her home in recognition of her service to society.

A tireless volunteer who has spent decades quietly helping those in need, Letchumi, 68, said several government officials told her recently that they planned to organise an event at her home in Taman Overseas Union Garden here.

They told her that a "special guest" would be making an appearance but refused to reveal his identity until 10 minutes before her visitor - the Prime Minister himself - arrived.

"I was surprised as I had no idea at all that it was the Prime Minister who was going to visit me and my family on Deepavali," she told The Star.

News of Najib's visit only became widely known after a posting about it, along with several photos, appeared on the Prime Minister's Facebook page yesterday evening.

"They told me it was to be a very private event - only for my family members and me - and that there would be no media coverage and no senior officials present," she said. 

"I kept on asking them who the special guest was but they just kept quiet and smiled."

After her husband died 32 years ago, Letchumi decided to channel her energy to good use.

"I got involved in community work so I can help others," she said.

Letchumi, among other things, volunteers at children's shelters, helps undocumented citizens secure their papers and assists the homeless poor obtain low-cost housing.

To feed her family, she set up a food stall in Sungai Besi and raised two daughters and two sons on her own.

Her eldest daughter is now a manager at an engineering firm while her second daughter works at a university.

Her third child, a son, helps to manage her stall while her youngest son is an engineer.

For her community work, Letchumi won the My Hero award in 2013.

The award is an initiative to identify unsung community heroes and is supported by the Prime Minister's Department.

The Prime Minister, dressed in a cream-coloured kurta, arrived at her home at 9.50am and spent 30 minutes having breakfast and chatting with Letchumi and her family.

"He had a pleasant chat with us while enjoying thosai with chicken and mutton curry," she said.

During the breakfast conversation, Letchumi said Najib assured her of his commitment towards helping the Indian community.

"He also advised me to continue to do good for the community," said Letchumi, who has five grandchildren.

Letchumi has no plans to slow down, saying that she plans to continue to run her food stall so she can use some of the profits to help those in need. 

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