A Personal Journey – Helping Women Stand Tall
On a bright summer day of April 1984 I was born to my parents in Ludhiana. Our lives went on and my parents did not have another child; the pressures of society to have another child, preferably a boy, mounted. While I might not have been able to comprehend what society was saying, it seems I could feel it. My parents never made me feel inferior; it was society that said too much and discriminated against girls.
While growing up, my heart would feel the hurt of women around me.
- Female Feticide
- Secondary Treatment to Women
- Lack of Equality between Men and Women
I am sure you get the point. While this kept brewing in my heart and in my head, I went on to do a jewellery course in Surat and Jaipur and started my jewellery business. I did not want to do a job in a bank and wanted to set up my own business. This was the starting point for me to do everything to prove a point – that women are no less than men.
Fast-forward many years. I got married. One day I was pondering … when is a good time to review our lives? As we gradually slip into our silver years or when we are still at our peak with dreams for our future and happy memories from our past? While most would instinctively choose the former, I think reviewing at peak of one’s life is a great idea, for it allows us to assess and re-adjust our priorities and goals, if the need be. It is, after all, never too late to even start afresh!
And so, here I was, swinging between memories of childhood and the present. The past having a furore within – with respect to cruelty against women. The present having a completely new twist, the beginning of my journey in the non-profit world. It was then with the help of my husband that I set up a trust ‘Divam – Khula Aasman’. There were many ideas of what to do and the hands to do them were few. But if you are determined to do something, it is not the number of hands but the fire in the belly and passion in the heart that matters. We began with running blood donation camps to be able to help the needy when they needed blood. A few youngsters came forward as volunteers to help in the cause. We then ran a few campaigns in the city for traffic improvement. These campaigns were to make the people aware about the safety regulations in terms of wearing seatbelts and helmets.
The next big idea was to buy a medical van that we could take to villages in and around Punjab to provide free/concessional facilities to the needy. However, this needed funds. For this, the entrepreneur in me wanted to help poor ladies make a living. Accordingly, we had them make products such as piggy banks, clips, etc. which we bought from them to sell in exhibitions to raise further funds. This served a dual purpose – employment for the needy ladies and funds towards the corpus to buy the medical van. While this project is still to see its logical conclusion, we also started working simultaneously on building a Nari Niketan.
Even after the movements for uplifting of the status of women, we still hear of abandoned and destitute women and unwanted and abandoned children. Nari Niketan’s contribution in providing refuge to these women and children has been unparalleled ever since. Besides giving shelter, security and refuge, Nari Niketan has provided the means to better the quality of the life through education and vocational training. As responsible members of society we also have an obligation towards it. By supporting institution like Nari Niketan, we can do our bit of serving to the humanity. Thus, now I am on the mission to find people who can help in what ever form to set up a Nari Niketan in Ludhiana as I am unable to get any support or assistance from the government departments.
~ Voila Kapoor
Voila Kapoor supports and is part of the DBCO Forum for Women