A Legacy for Serving the Disadvantaged
Abhimanyau Pal, 47, is the executive director of the Society for the Physically Disabled (“SPD”) in Singapore. Comprising about 140 social service professionals and administrators, SPD serves more than 4,500 individuals with disabilities each year. The society provides programs for the disabled, ranging from assistive technology to vocational training and job placements.
Under his leadership, SPD won the Charity Governance Award in November 2012. Emerging as the winner for the large charities category from amongst 36 selected charities. While others viewed the award as a high point in his career, Pal showed little personal pride in this achievement. Instead, he chose to count the simple successes in his career through the lives of those that he helped.
Pal’s passion to serve the underprivileged came from his father, a public health physician who dedicated his career to providing healthcare for people in the remote areas of India. Pal was born in 1966 in Calcutta, India. His childhood and adolescence was spent in eight different districts of West Bengal in India, where his father served as a doctor. While his father’s service was a great sacrifice for his family, being the son of the town’s only doctor had its privileges.
With a sparkle in his eyes, the 47-year-old recounted how he had wandered off after school one day with two boys from a nearby village. They had invited him to pick mangos at their plantation. His short trip turned out to be a two-hour trek to the plantation, followed by an afternoon of swimming and feasting at the village. During this time, the entire town had gone into a panic as the doctor’s son had gone missing. The police searched the highways checking for road accidents while the fishermen trawled the ponds and lakes in fear that he had drowned. When he finally returned home, he was greeted with angry glares from the crowds outside his home. The mangoes he collected didn’t spare him from being grounded the next day.
As the youngest child in the family, there were high hopes that he would follow in his father’s footsteps to become a doctor. However, Pal was unable to secure a position to study medicine. Not wanting to reattempt his entrance exams the next year, he chose to pursue Occupational Therapy instead. In 1989, Pal graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy from the Jadavpur University in Calcutta.
In 1992, in the hope of distancing himself from the expectations of his family, Pal decided to take up a position as an Occupational Therapist with a hospital in Singapore. His career with the hospital was short lived as his passion quickly drew him to the disability sector in Singapore.
Continuing in his father’s legacy of serving the disadvantaged in the remote areas of India, Pal leads a non-profit organization, serving the needs of the disabled in the cosmopolitan city of Singapore.