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When passion beats paycheques

26 May 2014
When passion beats paycheques


Life Desk :What does it take to make a difference? An honest effort... because even a journey of thousand miles starts with one step! More than a well- calculated tread, it's that ' heartfelt' move we make towards our passion and true calling. And it eventually makes all the difference.It is not, however, that easy to follow one's passion with a demanding career, especially in the commercial times of today, where one stumble can throw you off balance completely. But there are a select few who still mend and make ways to chase their passion.Overcoming the barriers of mind and money with strong determination and commitment, they fearlessly go for the path less chosen, if not the easiest one. Balancing career and charity with effortless elan, here are some spirited women who have made ' giving back' a way of life.Leading ladiesThree years ago, eight young women decided to pick passion over paycheque, a belief that still binds them.Meet Dr Divya Menon, Dr Preeja Balan, Vani Rupela, Anusha Ayyar, Promiti Ghosh, Supriya Sharma, Tanuja Talele and Preeshja Purshottam - the wonderful and inspiring women behind Octave Hearing and Speech Centre in Bangalore - a one- of- its- kind centre that provides all facilities for special children under one roof. Originally the brainchild of Dr Menon and Dr Balan, the idea of ' Octave' instantly clicked with the rest and they all decided to put together their strengths, resources, knowledge and expertise to set- up this state- of- the- art facility.The idea came when we were studying at All India Institute of Speech and Hearing, Mysore. However, it took some time to turn our dream into reality. We did private practice for a while but always felt something lacking.We saw how parents of kids with special needs had to run from one place to another in search of various facilities. This need became our motivation," shares Dr Balan.Combining their expertise with newage technology and personalised care, Octave offers a wide variety of audiology, speech and pathology services, along with specialised programmes.Having so many qualified people working together at one place gives a lot of scope for discussion and improvisation," says Dr Menon. Octave's technology- based curriculum helps children learn and communicate through latest gadgets and apps.Explains Dr Menon, " For example, if a child is not vocal, he can go to the photo library of his i- Pad and can easily pick an image to communicate."Aid for allLike Dr Menon and Dr Balan, Dr Archana Nayar, Director of Autism Centre for Excellence, New Delhi, also believes that there is a lack of good quality school programmes in India for kids with special needs. A mother of 11- year- old autistic son, Dr Nayar's personal experience gave her the strength and fervour to set up a dedicated centre for kids with autism offering standardised programmes." Early intervention is the key to improving the outcome in autism, The concept of ACE is completely new to India. Our data- driven programme is based on sound scientific principles. The educational plan relies on a well- researched curriculum based on the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis ( ABA).Data collection and analysis via customised software system allows us to analyse progress in our children and maintain the quality of our own intervention," explains Dr Nayar, who is also a co- sponsor of Children First, India's first fully- integrated institute for child and adolescent mental health.Balancing itThe inner pull to get personally involved with the causes is driving an increasing number of women towards philanthropic ventures. The charity has definitely expanded its horizons and gone beyond the mere act of writing a cheque. Today, it is as serious a passion as starting an entrepreneurial venture.For 26- year- old entrepreneur Pooja Bohra, being comfortable in her job was not enough; the heart needed to feel happy too. A burning desire to ' make a difference' helped her establish her own NGO ' Soul', which provides free education to underprivileged kids of daily labourers and domestic helps under its two schools by the name of Gokul Vidyapeeth in Besai village of Noida, Uttar Pradesh.More than 180 children receive elementary education here.Besides arranging funds for the schools, the young entrepreneur personally takes classes every Sunday, and in her own words helping these kids has made life worthwhile for her."We also help meritorious students take admission in public and government- aided schools under the EWS ( Economically Weaker Section) scheme. The peace and positivity you get from working with these children is something money could ever buy," she states.Lighting it upEducation has emerged as the most powerful tool that can change the present and future of millions of underprivileged kids across the world. Indeed, it both expands and empowers their world.The philanthropic journey of Mohini Boparai Guleria, Director of Merchandising & Creative at ' Exclusively. in' was anything but planned. A graduate of TU Delft University, Mohini moved from Amsterdam to New Delhi in 2004 to start Boparai Architectural Services, an architectural and design firm. While working at a constructional site, she indulged in a casual chat with a daily wager's daughter, which reignited her desire to do something ' meaningful' in life."I found myself compelled to teach her the English alphabets for some reason and ended up going back every single day for the next couple of months to teach her more. Before I knew it, I had a class of 15 eager- to- learn kids and hired a full- time teacher," she shares. Soon, Guleria decided to give this informal structure a distinct identity of its own and created Charity100, which today runs five not- forprofit feeder schools for underprivileged children, in collaboration with upcoming designers."Education is one of the most transformative forces that everyone should have access to. Unfortunately, for many children of migrant workers, access to education is not only a dream, but at times unimaginable. With education, I want to give them access to better opportunities and bright future," she shares.Finding meaningWhen ' money' ceases to excite, it's the ' meaning' that gives new lease to life. " Using your professional skills in a meaningful manner matters a lot. It takes time for things to fall in place but when you look back, you don't see difficulties.After all, what you enjoy doing is what keeps you going in life," declares Dr Menon. Indeed, money no more remains the only criterion to assess reward and contentment one gets from work. The paycheque of ' doing good' is priceless and surpasses all other perks.The ' gratification' one receives from giving back outdoes the ' risk' of taking the path less taken. " I can't change the world but the satisfaction of being able to make a difference in a child's life is enough to keep me going. Even when you don't think you have anything to give, there is always something you can do," declares Guleria.-Indiatoday.

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