“Life is beautiful if you really take ownership of it.”
Born in the city of Nasik and brought up in a small town that is now a district called Rajsamand, I had always been very adventurous and curious. A true nature lover. The explorer’s spirit has been alive in me since childhood and my parents have always supported me (though not willingly at times).
I did Chemistry honours at Pune University and then a Masters in Communication Media at Mumbai University. Being a topper and gold medallist my parents expected me to work in a white collar job, but my life took a U-turn when I was involved in making a film as part of my own thesis on Child Sexual Abuse. I worked with several NGOs and met grassroots workers who were doing impactful work to bring a change in India. Concurrently, I was travelling across India with organizations working with youth, children and adolescence on issues related to education, child rights, youth empowerment and trafficking.
My movie was a synthesis of what I saw in the society and my own life experiences. At this time, I underwent a transformation, realising I wanted to spend my lifetime bringing about a positive change in the society. Thus, I started reading and travelling and meeting people across the globe to understand both key issues and innovative solutions.
In the past six years, as a Certified Trainer, I have been working across India on key aspects related to experiential education, Youth empowerment, Transformational Leadership, NVC practises (living with Non-violent Communication).
I worked with Play for Peace, an organization that works with children, adolescents and adults across the globe through the medium of games, to build confidence and safe learning space amongst communities. I also worked as a fellow in Kaivalya Education Foundation for two years, where my role was to transform failing government schools by working closely with the Principals. This enhanced my understanding about the government education system and further strengthened my resolve to work with youth at a global scale.
My urge to work with adolescents made me join Masoom Education Foundation as the Program Director, where I worked with night schools that gave unique, education opportunities to a population of people who work in the day and study by the night. At Masoom I learnt the skills of program management, managing big teams, training multiple stakeholders, meeting and learning from top government officials.
“From being somebody to being nobody;
and from being nobody to being everybody.
This knowledge can bring
sharing and caring throughout the world.”
My life took another beautiful turn while working at Masoom - I got selected for the WYSE. leadership program. WYSE. gave me an excellent opportunity to connect with and learn from commendable work carried out by youth across the planet. WYSE. appeals to me because it focuses not only on the content but also the how. It creates a safe atmosphere for every learner to grow, nurture his or her ideas in the most beautiful way. It helped me understand my own facilitation skills by working closely with my coach. The sub-personalities sessions, made me more conscious about myself as a human being and also made me connect to lots of things, which I never believed were true. Connection with one’s ‘Self’ can be achieved in many different ways and I think WYSE. facilitated this beautifully. It was very experiential and touching for me - whether it was a one-on-one discussion with a buddy or a facilitator or offline group discussions orlate night chats or skits, role plays or videos - everything had a flavour of love and care and a very noble intent. The energy of the place and the people helped me connect with my inner self much better.
I made life time friends and learnt about real-life issues from their experiences. Staying with a Japanese roommate, having breakfast with a Spanish friend, swimming with an Italian, doing activities with a Lebanese, having dinner with an American - made me feel connected with people across the world. All the time, the discourse on leadership, culture and global identity was playing a big role in shaping my thought process towards the world outside of me.
I have recently joined Wildlife Conservation Trust, a not-for-profit that works closely with 90 national parks and sanctuaries spread across 17 Indian states and strongly believes that wildlife and forest conservation are intricately linked to the well-being of communities that reside in and around forests and that an educated, self-sufficient and healthy community is as important to the conservation of natural resources as forest protection and governance is. It has adopted a 360 degree approach to forest and wildlife conservation and its interventions are based on sound science, immaculate ground truthing and gap-filling exercises, in-depth interactions and coordination with State and Union Governments and deep rooted association with local communities to improve the quality of primary education, to provide better livelihood options and to provide quality health care to people living in and around remote forests
My personal dream too has started taking shape - I have come up with my own baby, a small community ‘EEE FULLS. A small community which serves as a platform for the young like-minded people to come and discuss, share and work on education, environment and experience as a way of learning. "E.E.E." stands for Experience, Enjoy and Educate and "FULLS" refers to Feel, Unlearn, Learn, Love and Share.
This is just a small beginning. There is a long way to go. I truly believe that youth has the power to influence, take-up challenges, think innovatively and possess the guts to stand for what they truly believe in.