Making Dreams come true

‘Wishes and Blessings’ is a unique platform for helping the underprivileged with the aim to spread blessings and fulfil wishes by linking beneficiaries with donors. The NGO works across the spectrum of society surpassing age and gender barriers on diverse causes including education, health, skill development and relief.  Founder, Dr. Geetanjali Chopra comes with an extensive list of educational achievements and experience. She completed her schooling from the Convent of Jesus and Mary, New Delhi, college from Lady Shri Ram College for Women & completed her Masters, M.Phil., and Ph.D. from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. In addition, she has undertaken courses in international law from The Hague and Utretch University in Netherlands.

Here are some excerpts from an interview with Dr. Geetanjali Chopra where she talks about her second innings in the social sector,

  1. When was the first time you thought of quitting a well-paying job to do something which would be meaningful to you?

I started my career in the field of journalism and later moved to academics. I taught in India and abroad. I then took up a full time job in centre for policy research as a research fellow and had 5 year stint with them and in the field of academics I was active for 10 years. I was happy, had a good pay check, was travelling the world, writing books and was quite content. But somewhere the inner satisfaction was missing and I felt that I am not able to give back as much as I want to. Maybe because social service is inbuilt and has come almost as a legacy from my grandfather.

As a child on my birthday every year, grandfather used to take me to visually impaired centre to distribute sweets or a meal. In March, 2014 on my grandfather’s first birthday after he passed away I thought of doing a feast for kids in his memory.  A visually impaired child came up to me asked me if all the kids could play Holi. That really had me thinking. While working in Centre for policy Research I put up a Facebook post to associates, friends, colleagues and reached out to them to see if they would want to pool in for the cause. And to my surprise people did but that one envelope which did not have a name but Rs 21 in it was what planted the seed of doing something more than this. With 130 blind children who played Holi that year, a stepping stone or foundation for wishes and blessings was registered in April 2014.

However since I had prior commitments and projects, I continued to work fulltime for 2 years and finally quit my job in 2016 by which time the NGO had grown multi-fold too and was a trust by now.

  1. What were the different obstacles or setbacks that you faced when you started with the initiative?

Personally, I did have to face raised eyebrows from family and friends circle as the decision I took seemed out of the norms for them. It took some time for them to acknowledge my intentions and accept that my heart was set on to this social cause. They have been my biggest pillars ever since. Professionally the road has had more curves. There are lot of NGOS that swindle people off money with promises of the money being used for noble causes, but people have been cheated. So gaining trust of people who want to help and who want to be helped was a challenge. And we have made ourselves extremely transparent and accountable for every penny that is used. We have never had any situation so far where there has been any breach of trust.

  1. What would your advice be to women who have to restart their careers after a break and sometimes may have to choose a different field or line of work?

I am no one to give advice but based on my own experience I would say “Just follow your heart. everything else falls in place.” Looking back there are  no regrets with choices made. It’s never too late to start what you love to do. No set age to follow your dreams. Whenever you get the calling or you just feel that there is a life purpose that is beckoning you, just go for it.

She finally followed her lifelong dream and pursued a career in the field of social service, a decision taken completely from the heart at the cost of leaving a successful career and raised eyebrows from loved ones; this step was the foundation towards making her childhood dream come true. She has also received “100 women faces of 2018” award for her work in the field of social service.

About the author: 

Padmaja Acharya – From the ancient language of Sanskrit comes my name ‘Padmaja’, derived from Padma (meaning lotus) and Ja (meaning to take birth from). A woman as created by the divine. An Engineer and MBA by virtue of education. A dance choreographer, teacher by virtue of passion. A soft skill trainer and educator by profession.  An author and speaker as guided by my calling. This is what encompasses me.

 (The author is a guest blogger at Her Second Innings. The opinions expressed are those of the author.)

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