KUALA LUMPUR: A month ago, social entrepreneur Ganesh Muren received a surprising telephone call from the Obama Foundation.
The staff who called informed Ganesh - who made his name in social work focused in rural communities - that he had been invited a closed-door meeting in Singapore.
Via email correspondences, Ganesh only got an inkling that the meeting at a well-known hotel in the island republic involved a senior leader of the four-year-old foundation.
"I did not tell anyone about the meeting on the behest of the Obama Foundation's officer who sent the email.
"Therefore, I kept it a secret, even from my own parents.
"Only two of my staff were informed about the trip to Singapore, without the reasons being stated," he said when contacted by NSTP today.
The mystery behind the meeting was finally revealed when Ganesh - who is also founder and chief executive officer of Saora Industries - walked into a special area in Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore.
"The hotel staff's lack of knowledge of who would be at the closed-door meeting raised more question marks.
"It turned out that the senior leader mentioned in the email was actually (former United States president) Barack Obama.
"I was in surprised as it was hard to believe that he would personally attend the two-hour meeting," said Ganesh.
Recounting the Monday meeting, Ganesh said that it was attended representatives from every Asean nations and with the aim of boosting the role played by youths in various initiatives for a greater good.
He said that his contribution to the meeting was focused on increasing the quality of life of rural communities, including strengthening the network of facilities and basic needs.
"Every Asean representatives at the closed-door meeting have their own specialty such as Myanmar with boosting youth involvement in poliitics, while the Philippines were focused on educational efforts.
"However through this closed door meeting, I realised that much could be done to in relation to rural communities, such as widening the role of women and upgrade Information Technology (IT) mastery in children.
"Through a series of discussions, the efforts at the domestic level could be further increased in order to trigger spill-over effect in the Asean region in the long term," he said.