A Quick Interview With Dr. Geetanjali Chopra, Founder and President Of Wishes and Blessings
Dr. Geetanjali Chopra, the woman behind Wishes and Blessings, Delhi based NGO, is a personification of versatility. She has been a journalist, acted in a TV show, tried her hand at radio jockeying and had an impressive stint in the teaching profession. However, nothing could give her contentment. Finally, she decided to leave her job and live her dream. She founded the NGO where she wishes to provide help to the one in need.
- Please take us through your journey of childhood? Does it have any reflection of who you are today?
I was fortunate enough that my family imbibed in me – empathy and affection towards humanity since childhood, which soon became the foundation stones of my career as a social worker. I would often accompany my grandfather to a school for visually impaired children, to celebrate special occasions. I clearly remember, on one such occasion, a little girl tugged my arm and asked, “When is my birthday?” Who would have thought that an impromptu question would very soon turn into the mission of my life?
- Social sector is not an easy job to do, so why did an academician decide to leave her job and start an NGO?
I have been involved in academics and research for more than ten years. While working at the Centre for Policy Research, I was caught in a dilemma – one half of me wanted to give everything up and re-imagine my life, working for underprivileged people, and the other half wanted to further explore and persist on the exhilarating route of academics and policy making. I strongly believe that in life, there is a pre-destined call. One might try to ignore it, but it is bound to keep returning in front of you until you realise and recognize it. I finally realised mine in 2014, when I established my NGO – Wishes and Blessings.
- Was your family there behind your decision, or was there any opposition from them?
Naturally, it was not a very smooth process to transition into a whole new dimension. I had to face raised eyebrows from loved ones as they were worried that I was about to embark on a journey I had 0% experience in. Facing all my fears and owning up to my decision, I went forward and never looked back.
- What stands Wishes and Blessings apart from other NGOs operating in the country?
Wishes and Blessings was envisioned to be a platform for connecting people in need with people who can help with the aim of spreading happiness and making dreams come true. Unlike most organizations, Wishes and Blessings work across various social demographics, surpassing age, caste, community and gender-based barriers on 6 causes among which are education, nutrition, care for elders, relief, customizable charity and the overall cause of happiness. Under customizable charity, even when we do not have a programme or a project for a particular cause, and if there is a genuine need, we create one with the help of our donors and supporters. I think this multi-dimensional approach is absent in most of the other welfare organizations operating in our country.
- Have you ever faced any hurdle being a female in this sector? Could you please tell us an incident, which made you feel that is gender-biased?
Given the very nature of work in the development sector, one has to be extra cautious because one is often in undefined territories, meeting people with different mindsets. On the field, even the people in need react differently to the aid they receive, especially when it is coming from a female. While distributing warm clothes to the destitute under one of our pilot projects, the Winter Relief, I personally felt the need to have a male companion since it is difficult to ascertain how the recipient will react. This often makes me think how easier things would be for the opposite sex.
- What advice would you give to the young females who wish to build their career/start their own NGO?
I only have one piece of advice for everyone, and the one that I follow too – ‘listen to your heart, but do not forget to take your brain along!’. Your gut will never lead you the wrong way. Hence, I request every woman who is dreaming to build a career in the social sector to always follow her intuition.
- What keeps you motivated?
While disappointment, heartaches, and frustration have been frequent companions in my journey of social welfare, the rewards in the form of heart-warming smiles on the faces of our beneficiaries as well as supporters have made it all worthwhile. That’s what keeps me going!