"Be Your Own Inspiration" – Shalini Sharma

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1. Tell us about yourself and your life.

I Shalini, 47-year-old belong to Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. I have been living in Ambala for the past 20 years. I am a post-graduate and have done B.Ed. and diploma in Computers. I have been a housewife for a long time but became active from past 3 to 4 years and presently running an NGO. 

Apart from this, I am a theatre artist, a poetess, a writer, a housewife and a good caring mother. I started theatre when some artists asked me to play a role, I did and they liked my performance. Then I also started writing. And I became a poetess by unknowingly signing in a poem fest.

I would like to add that I belonged to a conservative family where we were not allowed to talk to people. I also pursued my studies in Hindi medium and in open learning mode. I learnt English while teaching to my own kids and I went to attend an English speaking course feeling that it is necessary to learn the English language. I never had the privileges so I can say it was my struggle that pushed me here today.

2. What led you into Social Activism?

I used to feel guilty and embarrassed due to my inability to talk to teachers at my kids’ Parents Teachers Meet. It was all started with the inspiration of my children. Once I was talking to our housemaid and came to know that she had three kids and she was facing the same problem of lack of confidence in communication. 

So I started teaching her and I feel contented after helping the helpless. Her pain and problems forced me to think about others who are suffering the same. But this was not the very initial stage, Social Activism had always attracted me. I started teaching children in a small village ‘Badiyal’. 

Later, I got awareness about NGO and its registration procedure.  Then, we established an NGO, Amolly Foundation almost a year ago and now we are planning to start our YouTube channel soon. So basically it all started with my Maid.

3. What is that one cause you care deeply about and why?

Whenever I see students who are facing the same problem of not getting proper guidance, I feel dejected. Though time has changed a lot, as people are becoming educated and aware these days. 

But this issue can be seen among uneducated parents who themselves don’t know how to properly guide their child. Helping them for their bright future satisfies me. I strongly feel that we should provide a free environment for our children where they can talk about anything to anyone without any hesitation. So I just provide the platform where they can feel alike.

4. If one wants to contribute and make a difference in social causes, how can one do it?

I would rather say, first try to change yourself because change starts with our own mindset and then come forward to bring a change in the society via various available platforms. 

This seems little hard you know because people talk about very good ideal scenario but when it comes to their own practical life then don’t accept it. I think the lack of education and awareness is also the root cause of the problem with kids these days that they can’t even discuss their problems with their own parents.

5. Who is your role model and why?

I am afraid to say that I don’t have any person as my role model. My own ideology is my inspiration, so I am the role model of mine. I started this to bring changes in my own life and now I am doing it for the greater good. So coming from such a stereotypic background and transforming myself into an independent and multitasking woman is enough for me to become my own role-model.

6. What are some of the challenges and roadblocks you have faced along your journey?

Firstly, I, myself was the challenge. Because coming from a conservative family doesn’t allow you to think out of the box. But luckily my husband and my daughters supported me a lot to overcome every hurdle. 

Then I found society as a roadblock. When you try to bring a change in society, it opposes you. Negative remarks commented by people was really demotivating. Now when I have learnt, I would say ignore the negative thoughts, and keep going. Be your own motivation. 

And do remember, people don’t want to accept the change, they do talk great things but don’t act on it.

7. Your opinion about social media activism.

I am in favour of social media activism because you are doing it for a noble cause, for a better society. And you can’t stop negative things going around you. Negative does exist around positivity. So all you have to do is take those negative comments and ignore them. Do your own job without being affected by the negative comments. And if you are well documented and registered, you don’t need to fear anything.

8. Which is your favourite book and why?

It’s a hard question because I don’t have any book or writer as my favourite in my mind. But I like to read biographies a lot and I recently read the autobiography of Sir A.P.J. Abdul Kalam “Wings of fire”. I liked it because he was so ground to earth. 

The struggle of his life feels like our own. He feels like one of ourselves. His amazing personality and hard work is a huge inspiration for me. The path of his success from a newspaper vendor to the maker of a rocket and becoming the President of India is impeccably wonderful.

Interview by - Himanshi

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