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Discover The Change-Maker in You | Puja Marwaha | TEDxIMINewDelhi | Puja Marwaha | TEDxIMINewDelhi

today I just want to tell you a few
stories I was brought up as I probably
have many of you in a Catholic school
and one of the things that we learnt and
I particularly imbibed was this concept
of having to give your life having to
you know the nuns always talk to us
about how those of us who were
privileged had to give of ourselves have
to be benefactors had to be the giver
you know the one above and when I as and
when I moved into my work serving
children my work focusing on the most
marginalized of our society
I remember the thrill of coming in and
thinking you know I’m going to be this
generous benefactor I’m going to stand
there and you know feel great and smile
and have my yellow fixed very strongly
around my head and I didn’t you know in
the beginning when I joined the sector I
was you know these these social sector
people don’t know much and I’m the hero
and I must fix this and we must but this
leadership thing in place and we must do
that what I want to share with you today
is really what my life has become after
that which was to discover that that is
not so you don’t give what happens
actually is that you receive what
happens actually is that you transform
you the change maker you the person was
going out to be the Good Fairy is
actually received and transformed
because you have discovered
so much about yourself you know when I
grew up I remember this aunt of mine I
would say Pooja
but sensitive you know as if it was a
huge weakness and I grew up thinking it
was a weakness you know you burst into
tears and why do you feel sorry for
people and you know we are brought up in
this country being torille that we must
in your ourselves to poverty that when
that child begs outside our car window
when you see people sleeping on the road
you’re supposed to get used to it kena
you’re supposed to be part of saying I
can’t solve this problem I
there’s no point let me get on with my
life I must study I’m and this is what
you hear and I grew up thinking the
sensitivity is a huge weakness what I’ve
discovered in the course of my work is
actually it is one of my greatest
strengths it is what gives me cognitive
empathy it is because of this
sensitivity that I do what I do and in
the process I have discovered that this
is something I’m terribly proud of you
know it’s something that I’ve actually
learned to hold more to be able to look
at a group of young people and know
which one you have to focus on the and
for me that’s been I I cannot even begin
to describe what greater gift so to have
turned from being you know this over
sensitive over empathetic person to
actually someone for whom this is a huge
threat and and I can spend the whole day
telling you about all the amazing things
that have changed in me if you had told
me when I was in college that I would be
standing here today that I would be
heading my organization that I would be
have changed the lives of a million
children every year I would have laughed
at you I was clearly I always saw myself
No I followed my heart I ran after the
subjects I wanted to do I was not
focused and it engineering and math and
what-have-you right and and it’s this
it’s serving others that has actually
changed and transformed my life it has
made me confident it has made me a
leader and it has made me understand
that and I want and you know that’s
that’s what I want to talk to you about
today please understand that what will
really help you in life is actually to
be vulnerable to admit what is wrong
with you to take those fears and
transform them and be courageous despite
those fears do to be courageous and face
what you have to face despite the odds
you know today we are facing a situation
where we are being told you know the
work that you do all are you really
using my money for the first time we are
facing people questioning what we do and
and sometimes it makes you very angry it
makes you very fearful but I think what
I’m learning also in this process is
that it is actually giving me
acknowledging these fears is giving me
courage not tucking them away under a
sofa not you know putting them away and
say no no of course so what no these are
this is real this is real that people
are going to question us that I feel me
and my communities are under threat
today and it makes me braver it makes me
stronger and you know I want to share
with you as as I thought about today’s
talk and I I thought of two people that
I know whose stories I want to share
with you because they are the same
stories they are changemakers
who went out there to make change and
yet like me have actually discovered
themselves in the process I have
discovered what they are capable
love so this is not a photograph of tano
this is only a photograph of the area
she lives in tano is a young 14 year old
this is this area is called Shaba dairy
a lot of you who are from Delhi would be
familiar with the area it was in the
news recently because we discovered that
children were not being fed at night why
were they not being fed because if they
were fed they might want to go to the
toilet and there are only four toilets
that – at the corner of this colony this
this resettlement colony on the outside
of Delhi and they can be raped they can
be picked up the the maximum number of
missing children and women are are from
Shaba dairy and there is young tanu
she’s 14 and I I met her because my
activists who work they said meet this
girl she’s 14 she lives in this area she
is from there where yuck the constantly
what you are told when you exit every
day to go to school or go out to buy
something is watch out you’re going to
be the chances are you might be abducted
chances are you may be raped when you go
to the toilet you may be raped right
don’t talk to min and she told me about
how when she was walking to school she
saw a group of boys fighting with each
other and this girl walked up to them
and intervened and said what’s going on
figured out that these young boys suffer
from what boys in that community suffer
which is they are being taught to be
rough tough masculine you know money
snatching whatever snatching young
people who don’t need to go to school
and can you believe what this girl did
and I’m thinking here is someone who to
my mind is just about keeping her head
of under walk over water right a sense
the fact that she’s still going to
school the fact that she’s you know
still keeping herself safe but then
wouldn’t even think about it
she and a group of friends discussed
among themselves and said what should we
do and they said let’s teach them let’s
teach these kids who are not going to
school something and off they went once
again to the parents all of whom as you
can imagine are busy are saying it’s
cool nature hid what can we do
persuaded them negotiated with them to
actually bring these children to a study
class run by tano and her friends not
some fancy-schmancy rich Catholic school
educated girl coming and doing it for
them they did it for themselves and
she’s carried on from there it’s been a
year she has got some of these a lot of
these kids have gone back to school
because of what she’s done and she has
become III don’t even know what to say
she has become one of the most
incandescent young people that I met who
without the advantages of mentoring of
parenting of you know anything seems to
have the most incredible courage has
discovered she can negotiate has
discovered that she there is no gender
issue because off it was a little group
of boys with whom she interfered you
know and I don’t even know what’s going
to become of her but I know that she is
so changed by being a change maker that
today in that area of darkness with a
capital D she is a little beacon of
light you know and you ask her and she
says the the Methow socha beanie i it
didn’t really strike me what I was doing
I was doing what I thought had to be
I did what I seemed it seemed to be
right and really to me here is a person
transformed forever this is going to be
no ordinary life this is going to be
somebody who has taken
of a situation taken charge of her own
courage they can charge off her her
resources like I go to school so I can
at least eat seven-year-olds contact the
the to me you know my work what I do
what I gain is all worth it if we can
create so many young people like this we
can create many tunnels and as I looked
around and I started seeing what are
these qualities that both we seem to
require to be able to make change but
also what do we in the process gain and
you know we realize that in cry we we
are always looking at what is it that
makes people these changemakers but to
me right now
I think the search is for what it then
does to you what does it do to me
what does it take for me to say what was
seen as a weakness what I always saw as
as a issue of self what actually it
changes incredibly for me you know we
have young people coming to us to
volunteer we have young people like you
everywhere all the time coming to cry
and saying what can I do because I think
people want to change what is going on
it is not right that young people like
tahno have to live the way they do for
example and we want to change that word
and here I’m an ordinary person I have
to earn a salary what am I going to do
and I say to you you know this is not
just about what you’re going to give but
it’s what you’re going to gain you know
I have young volunteers today coming I’d
remember a young girl in Calcutta coming
to me and saying ma’am this is like an
MBA school you know I volunteered for
two years and I learned all these crazy
things I learned to go and negotiate
with a government person for a
water-cooler in the school my normal
reaction as a rich person would happen
to go buy it by the water cooler right
but I didn’t do that
cry made me go and say negotiate with a
government education officer talk to him
and I’ve discovered I can be a leader I
can be a negotiator I can be I I can
learn how to work with difficult
children I can learn how to get them
back to school and this is these are
some of the things that I learn I gain
and I become I transform you know we
have a person we support in a multi
pradesh SIA SIA SIA dual re her name is
she would not like being called SIA SIA
dual re Sehun Denari was abandoned by
her husband when she was 14
so we don’t want to get into when she
was married right she was abandoned at
14 she had four children one would have
said beneficiary cry should now be
helping her right see I didn’t need
Seattle re they need our help
she went out there she got herself an
education she went back to school she
did her graduation she is today a cry
partner she started working on
malnutrition issues in her community and
to me what does it take a rare courage
to go beyond being a victim to actually
being the change maker and you know this
young shy woman today talks to national
policy makers on malnutrition she knows
more about malnutrition than I do I can
tell you that what it what it means how
it indicates how you can see children
and malnutrition what are the indices
what are the impact indicators what are
the medical terms what is the medication
what is the food what is the supplements
and she says I you know cannot even
imagine that I could do this the first
time I went to talk to one of the local
district magistrates I was shaking you
know I am you know one of the lower
caste lower class people
and a woman and a young girl I mean the
first time she started a walk she was
only 21 you know today she comes to
Delhi she talks to the National to NCPC
our she’s out there fighting for the
right to food and once again a rare and
transformed individual you know not
somebody whom you meet you will feel
like you have to you know talk down to
say a cha-cha kurta here no you know she
is going to tell you what she does she’s
gonna tell you how she’s changing the
world and how brave and courageous and I
mean brave and courageous actually also
patronizing verbs even as I say them
what rare qualities of leadership and
individualism has this person found so
you know it it comes back to me again
and again to say when you seek to change
the lives of others you know you change
yourself and most of us do not expect it
we do not know what this work what is
taking action of for others will
actually do for us
we think it’s something that we will
have to give up but in doing so I know I
and I know many Seattle Aries and many
tunnels but I’ve discovered that I have
become that transformed human being I
have become everything that I should be
and for all of you as you go into life
some of you have have fantastic made
fantastic journeys in life already I
will urge you to remember this and urge
you to look always for what you are
going to discover about yourself when
you seek to make change
thank you
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