"Whatever you do, it should really align with your purpose." - Ismail Weiliang,
For Ismail Weiliang, 28, water plays an important part in his life.
He works as a Water Engineer, specialising in offering flood resilience solutions to areas with high risk of flooding.
Other than working as a Water Engineer in the day, Ismail is also the man behind The Waterbender SG - a hero delivering clean drinking water to the needy in rural villages, as well as refugees for the past two years. The Waterbender SG started during Ramadhan in 2020, where Ismail connected with his friends who worked in the humanitarian relief sector to deliver water to the most needed areas.
“For example, I have a friend in The Rose of Madinah, so he has water pumps and wakaf water pumps in Bangladesh, India, Cambodia, Philippines. So it’s quite easy for me to call him and say, ‘Sameer, let’s do a collaboration.’ I collect the funds, send them to him and he will deliver the projects.”
“Most of the countries are developing countries. The first year, what we did was, we focused on rural villages so those were more of water pumps. The second year we really zoomed in to refugees, because there were a lot of issues around the world pertaining to refugees. Last year we delivered clean drinking water to countries such as Ukraine, Myanmar, Yemen and Palestine,” Ismail shared with us.
The Waterbender SG has collaborated with a number of different organisations; including Global Ehsan Relief! Waterbender SG has helped deliver clean water through our Water Tanks project, focused on delivering fresh water to rural IDP camps in Yemen.
“I really trusted Global Ehsan Relief because they were very good in their documentation of what they delivered. And the founder, Mr Basheer is also an inspiration to me. He did this for five years already and has delivered so much impact overseas and also within our community,” Ismail shared.
Clean water doesn’t just benefit the people who are receiving it, it’s also one of the best investments that an individual can make for the community.
“It’s also one of the best investment tools, for example, investing in the community. So $1 of clean drinking water will equate to about $5-$16 of community building. So it’s one of the best ways to grow these developing countries.”
While emphasising the importance of a community, Ismail stresses that this is not a one-man job.
“I think different people have different motivations and I don’t think it’s from me. I’m the Waterbender, so I merely bend the water. The water is actually from the whole community, they pass me the water and I just bend it and pass it to those in need. So it’s actually inspired by them - that they want to do this.”
Ismail also shared a more personal inspiration with us - one that has kept him grounded and acts as a reminder for himself to make decisions with the right intentions.
“I have a grandmother who is around 90 years old. She has dementia and is like a baby now. She had a high fever for two weeks and during that period, she was in and out of hospital. When she was warded, she forgot everything and could only reply a few words, and she still only remembers a few words up to this day.
So when I visited her, I would say “Assalamualaikum” and she would reply “Waalaikumsalam”. Then I would ask, “Sihat?” and in the hospital she knew she was not well so she didn’t reply. And then I would ask, “Alhamdulillah?” and she would reply, “Alhamdulillah”. I would say “Syukur kepada?” and she replied “Syukur kepada Allah.”
"So, no matter what we go through in life, that really grounded me personally that I should always be grateful for what I have in life. That grounds the project as well, the gratitude for all the blessings we have, we use it wisely and serve others, whether in our own communities or the greater humanity.”
For The Waterbender SG, delivering clean water to the most dire communities is a continuous effort.
“Moving forward, insyaAllah next year we will look into more of the flood-risks type of projects so insyaAllah we will be shifting from delivering clean drinking water to flood resilience, which is my professional background.”
“Alhamdulillah, Allah S.W.T. gives us the blessings, we do what we can.”