I had an overwhelmingly gratifying kick-off to my new year! I attended the Global Action against Poverty (GAP), a 3-day event held at Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad. I am really grateful to SVP for providing me with the opportunity to attend full program. In my corporate job, I have taken such opportunities for granted. But thankfully, now my lens has changed, for better! I have come back feeling so deeply inspired that I feel I am a different person today than I was last year. As Ms. Meera Shenoy, Founder of Youth4Jobs, who was also a speaker at GAP, rightly said that the mind automatically switches to reflective mode when you are at Gandhi's humble abode, the Sabarmati Ashram.
Sharing this article is my way of giving back to the universe - to the passionate change-makers who are working round the clock in severe conditions and with limited resources at their disposal - to the the communities we depend on for our living and daily chores - to people we deeply love - to the employer who genuinely cares about our personal happiness and professional growth - to the family that has made us who we are today - and to many, many other individuals who have played their little or large role in this journey of life so far!
My purpose of attending this event was to zoom out from my current role - and look at the larger picture. I wanted to rediscover my why of doing what I do, meet some inspiring leaders and change-makers working for social good, explore some opportunities of collaboration, share about the work we do at SVP with larger network etc. And I am really glad that I was able to do most of this in bits and pieces. But now I am not thinking about these items on my agenda at all. I am only thinking about some wonderful people I met - people who are working in remote villages of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Tamil Nadu etc with farmers, sex workers, children, educators, and many other stakeholders across various domains of healthcare, elderly care, sanitation, water, mother care, education, livelihoods etc. I want to share three of these stories here which have particularly stuck with me:
There were also some very interesting sessions by few senior leaders and thinkers, around Systems Thinking, Leadership, Self-discovery and so on. I am sharing my biggest takeaways - some questions to reflect upon and learnings here:
In the evening, we visited Seva Cafe, a non-for-profit organization which runs on the concept of "Pay Forward". It was incredible to see this concept in implementation there, and it was one of the most beautiful cafes I have ever been to. When you enter there, they welcome you with "tilak". You eat as much as you want, and you pay as much as you wish or can afford! What I most liked there was a sign board that read,
"Blessed are they who clean up".
Often we forget to thank people who give their services to us. We take them for granted as we think paying is enough. They are truly blessed who clean up our dishes, pick the waste from our doors, grow food in toughest climates and lot more.
I have come back feeling deeply inspired and grateful. These are the experiences that push me to do more and better everyday. Tonnes of thanks to Madan Padaki, co-founder GAP and their whole team for setting this beautiful event up and volunteers for helping run this large scale event so smoothly and seamlessly, and the change makers for doing what they do, and the leaders for guiding, helping on our journeys, and the communities which serve us!
Swati is the General Manager of Social Venture Partners (SVP) Hyderaad, where she builds powerful partnerships with non-profit organisations to tackle India's most pressing social challenges. SVP is the world's largest network of engaged philanthropists, with over 3,200+ investor-donors across more than 40 cities worldwide. Swati is a Teach For India Fellow - she has taught 100 girls for two years in a slum community in New Delhi. She has previously worked with Hedge Funds for four years as a consultant in New Delhi and New York. Swati holds a bachelor degree in Computer Science from the Institute of Engineering and Rural Technology.