Far removed from the harsh realities that exist in most of India, there are people who grow up in a cocoon of protection and privilege. Theirs is a luxurious life. Preeti Chandra was born in one such family, but went on to focus on rehabilitating the poverty-stricken section of our society.
Chandra, a successful fashion designer who hails from a leading real estate company, Unitech, went on to set up Lightworkers Foundation in 2014 for the benefit of underprivileged people. She told us about the time she decided to do something for the less fortunate: “In life, we are often hit with tsunami warnings. I have seen a few of those. When I lost my beloved mother to cancer in 2012, it made me realise the impermanence of life…how we live in our own bubble. So I decided to step outside my comfort zone. Even though I was keenly involved with organisations like Udayan and Prayas, I decided that I wanted to do sewa as my sole purpose from that time forward.”
This gave birth to Lightworkers Foundation. Chandra chose to use her education—a master’s degree in finance—as well as her social acumen and grit to benefit the foundation. Developments and results were quick and swift. She said about the initiatives, “We started Naya Prayas, which provides for alternative education centres in slums for children. Here we provide two square meals and basic education. Our mission is to make sure these children get into recognised schools thereafter. Right now we have four centres.”
What Chandra has built in the last seven years is an example of positive social change. Today, Lightworkers Foundation has more than 1,000 members. She has given a platform and opportunity to those out there who are looking to contribute towards a social cause.
The foundation is built on the philosophy that every rupee goes directly to the right beneficiary. Chandra talked about the foundation’s partnership with Prayas. She said, “We also educate women and work in shelter homes for women and children.” Tirelessly and relentlessly, she is in pursuit of protection, subsistence and sustenance of the needy and the marginalised.
They work with young girls, daughters of sex workers, to give them a better life. They also provide support to rape victims. There is constant nurturing and care to restore and to rehabilitate women who have suffered mental and physical abuse.
Chandra told us about one incident that has stayed in her memory. She said “In one of my visits to G.B. Road of New Delhi, which is the red-light district, I came across a mechanic and his daughter, Nabiya, who had no limbs. She was 12 at the time. Her mother did not work. And her father would carry her every day to school and back. She couldn’t even go to the washroom till either of her parents came to pick her up and carry her home. Yet she would always smile and her parents always remained positive.”
Today, five years later, there exists a Nibaya Fund. The family has a home and Nibaya is being educated.
Chandra concluded, “Sewa is like an addiction. Once you immerse yourself and see the huge impact of such small acts of kindness, there is nothing stopping you thereafter.”