Watch the interview above or read excerpts of the interview below!
“Our team used to visit rural communities and see how we could empower women and children in these areas. We delivered sessions on rural development and sanitization and also recharged about 298 dry wells within 6 months which is not a small feat! Being with these communities gives you the opportunity to share your skills and grow from each other. As a classical dancer myself, I teach dance at women rehabilitation centers and in a way this motivates them to start a new life. Skill based training through art and dance is a big part of my work with these communities.”
Performing these acts of social service game Suma a deep sense of self satisfaction and she decided to pour her heart into it.
“The same way that the workplace supports one’s livelihood, these communities also require some kind of support in their lives, which we do through our work. I won’t say that I do it entirely for them – there is a deep sense of joy that I get by knowing I can help change someone’s life. The best part is that they remember each of us to this date. They don’t think of us as social workers but as individuals that connected with them and so a strong bond has been formed. We are considered to be guests of honour at their personal functions and festivals! I remember once while I was pregnant one family performed a seemantha (like a baby shower) ceremony for me. They consider me as one of their own!”
Inspired by these experiences, Suma decided to take things a step further and started her own organisation with 5 other individuals.
Gram Panchayat Team in Dharwad
“We named our organisation ‘Kundini’, which means ‘specialist in art’. Out of our 6 membered team, 3 are located in Dharwad and help with on-ground execution while the remaining 3 contribute from Bangalore. We haven’t registered it officially as an NGO because most of us have full time jobs as well, but we take on projects that the gram panchayat allocates to us. While we don’t ask for monetary donations, we do welcome volunteer work and donation of items such as clothes, vessels, etc.”
Write to Suma at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how you can contribute!
When asked if she wanted to share a message of inspiration to the readers, she responded,
“Change really begins at home. My only message to everyone would be to see how you can contribute and change the world in a positive way. The general tendency is to put the responsibility on other people to do something for the world to improve it, but we don’t see the little ways that we can contribute ourselves. I believe that – if you’ve been blessed with enough on your plate – share just one portion of that to people who need it. Change will begin from there.”
On how her time spent working with needy communities has shaped her as an individual, she said, “I think the quality of being nurturing, which is generally associated with women, has helped me greatly in life. Even at the workplace, I try not to judge and instead listen and understand the other party. That quality of being more sensitive and empathetic is something that is truly required in today’s world.”