“2020 is relief work – to have a compassionate heart towards the ones who can’t support themselves in the present situation of COVID -19.”
When we see a street child who is not in school, doesn’t have enough to eat or an underprivileged woman who cannot fend for herself, what do we do? Let our conscience answer this question. Today we take pride in talking with a woman, who rolls up her sleeves and gets to work for this underprivileged section of the society – Ruplekha Sinharoy, Founder President, LOTUS RESCUE . Incidentally, her efforts have doubled during the COVID-19 attack.
She talks to Poonam Sinha about the Big Idea, the inspiration, support of family, the road ahead in 2020 and more…
- How did you get the big idea to start the venture?
I was if I may say so, born with it! From the time of my environmental consciousness I wanted to be a teacher and a social worker and I was lucky I had parents who encouraged me. Women’s welfare and child rights have always been on my priority list. Lifting women and children out of troubled circumstances and enabling them to lead lives with dignity and purpose has always been my aim.
- Where did the inspiration for setting up your school/NGO come from?
I always felt good helping others. When you are happy doing something you love, it will only multiply. I had full faith that I would build a very compassionate organisation which would empower the needy in all possible ways. With the right help and support, ‘LOTUS RESCUE’ was born. Our vision is to empower 100,000 women and children by 2030.
- How easy or tough has it been for you, as a woman entrepreneur, to set up and promote your venture?
The journey has been far from easy but it is the positive handling of the journey that has finally made it a success. Setbacks have only taught me what can be done in another way to achieve your goals. I am a learner and will always be one. It is quite unfortunate that although we call ourselves the ‘progressive’ kinds, a section of our society does not accept a woman trying to move out and do something worthwhile.
- Do you think women entrepreneurs support other women across the value chain of business? How have you impacted/supported/mentored the lives/careers of other women?
Yes, women entrepreneurs do support women across the value chain of business; after all they are women first and entrepreneurs later. I have come across some very strong women who although may not be having fancy offices, do have a good blend of traditional values, a modern outlook and of course the knowledge to expand their ventures while being very humane too. I personally have been able to empower women in my organisation by giving them work so that they may lead a respectable life. Here, I would like to add, that LOTUS RESCUE works at the ground root level; we take women under our wings who are around us waiting to be ‘rescued’. Children too are welcomed. The most important subject we teach them is self-worth. I have lost count as to exactly how many women I have empowered from different walks of life. I lay stress on instilling in them a sense of selfworth and I spread this message through the various workshops I conduct on various social platforms on a regular basis.
- How has the support of friends and family played a role in your being a successful entrepreneur? How do you balance your professional and personal life?
My family and friends have been my pillars of support. My daughters, parents and husband have been there all the while. My daughters started helping me from a very early age. However, there will be times when you will feel torn between your personal and professional life. Balancing is the key; it is important that your family understands the value of your work and it is only you who can make that happen, secondly it is a good idea to involve your family too , thirdly making sure that you spend ‘quality’ time with your family and finally if you get help in managing home, take it! Making these changes will ensure you get enough time to pursue your work.
- Where you trained for this line? Would you like any training now? If so, what king of training?
I wasn’t trained to be a social worker, it came naturally to me. I was trained to be a teacher and now I am training to be a counsellor as it will help me in my work and I have gone ahead and opened stitching outlets to make these women financially independent too.
- What technical details did you have to delve into while establishing ‘LOTUS RESCUE’?
To begin with I had to look for places to rent to start my school and it took me some time to get my office space and staff as well. Secondly funds are not permanent; it is swimming against the tide to convince people to donate for noble causes as ours. Another hurdle was getting a report from my rural units on a daily basis, as I cannot travel everyday. I solved this problem by buying smart phones for my staff members , video calling them and taking pictures. Teaching was another challenge; I would personally make notes, train my teachers once a month and take a feedback at the end of the month. In Kolkata, getting the street children into mainstream schools was a problem; also the children would not want to attend school, so we had to get creative and incentivize their coming to school .
- What is the road ahead in 2020?
2020 is relief work; to have a compassionate heart towards the ones who can’t support themselves in the present situation of CoVid-19. We are working towards helping those in need but we are taking all the precautions /protection while doing so. To tide over this pandemic and help others to do the same is our goal this year.
Know more about her venture ‘LOTUS RESCUE’ in www.lotusrescue.net