E7 – How an Oxford Graduate Lawyer is saving the Himalayas

As International Women’s month draws to a close, I look back at all the incredible women I have had the pleasure of knowing in my life. Starting from the women around me, my mom and my sister who (it goes without saying) had an immeasurable impact on my life, choices and how I choose to serve the world, to women who are having an impact on a global scale – every woman deserves to be celebrated.

So it is truly an honor to be able to share with you this series of interviews with exceptional women throughout this month. I have had such an incredible time talking to my Women on a Mission, and I am grateful to be able to share their stories with you.

And today, on this last day of International Women’s month, I want to share with you my last interview of the Woman on a Mission series that I created with Vital Voices.

The story of Sheeba Sen, an Oxford graduate who left the glitz of the city behind to live in the Himalayas, helping a rural community recreate a forest that has been lost.

Sheeba is a lawyer by education and training, she studied International Relations at the London School of Economics followed by the Legal Practice course at the University of Oxford. She practiced at an International law firm in London for three years before returning to India in 2011, driven by a strong need to devote her life in service of the underprivileged in her country. Setting up base in Mumbai, for a year she worked with small independent coffee farmers in Southern India helping them promote their products and demand fairer prices. While splitting her time between Mumbai and the coffee farms, Sheeba began to feel an even stronger pull towards the rural environment.

Pulled towards the Himalayas, she visited a remote village in the rural Himalayas in 2012. It took just one visit to Satoli and Sheeba knew that this was where she wanted to set-up her life, living amongst and working for rural communities. For the next 3 years, she worked with a rural development organization in the region called Aarohi. As the CEO of the organization, she expanded Aarohi’s funder and volunteer base and initiated youth outreach initiatives. She left Aarohi in December 2016 and founded Alaap.

Alaap is a social enterprise working at the intersection of climate change and poverty alleviation.

Its mission is to empower communities in the most fragile ecosystems in the world to restore their degraded habitats by growing natural forests. It does so through a triple bottom line model that invests in communities by providing leadership training to create eco-champions and generating employment through restoration activities. Currently, it is working in the central Himalayan region in India.

To learn more about the organisations work, or to get involved, go to http://alaap.in
or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alaap.in/

You can listen to the other episodes of the podcast here

E6 – How one woman is working with prisons for a safer Mexico

The Incredible women that I have met and interviewed for this Woman on a Mission Series do not cease to amaze me. Every time I listen to a new story, I am blown away by what incredbile lenghts women go to make this world a better place.

So is the case with Saskia Niño De Rivera. This incredible woman started an organization at the age of 24 to help the women (and particularly mothers) in Mexico’s prisons. This unassuming young woman spends her time working with some of the most vulnerable people in Mexico’s prison system as well as some of the most notorious criminals in the same institutions.

Mexican-American with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at the Universidad Iberoamericana, she is currently the President of Reinserta A.C., which she decided to create at the age of 24 in order to fight for a safer Mexico working with the penitentiary system.

She worked in the National Anti-Kidnapping Coordination, where one of her main projects was the creation of the profile of kidnappers at a national level and the coordination of the new design of specialized detention of kidnappers in prisons with high security cells. She was Deputy Director of Vulnerable Groups in the Delegación Coyoacán in Mexico City, intern in the Carstens Mexico City Institute in the area of ​​negotiation of kidnappings, and volunteer in Education and Development Service to the IAP Community (SEDAC), working on projects for the benefit of women in vulnerability.

In 2015, she promoted the creation of the Motherhood in Prison clause in the National Criminal Enforcement Law and was invited to work on and create the 2015-2016 Social Responsibility Agenda with various companies in the world in the Mexico Global Compact. In 2014, she participated in several working groups for the reform of the Mexican criminal justice system.

She conducted a profile study of more than 800 kidnappers in order to create a project aimed at crime prevention.  Also headed the motherhood in prison study, where more than 11 prisons were analyzed, interviewing 2,500 incarcerated women.

Saskia has given numerous lectures on social reintegration, security issues, human rights of juvenile offenders, and psychological aspects for the mental health of incarcerated people.

She was chosen as the Mexican leader of the first generation of women by Raising Talent Women’s Forum and is one of the 3,000 fellows internationally chosen by Ashoka Global for being a social entrepreneur. She was also nominated for the Nelson Mandela-Graça Machel 2016 Award and named “Next Generation Leader” by Time Magazine. She is winner of the UBS Visionaries 2016 Award, has been recognized by Global Shapers and Women’s Forum Rising Talent Mexico, is an Ambassador of Vital Voices since 2016 and in 2017, received the Iberoamerica Medal from the Honoris Causa Foundation for her work defending human rights.

Saskia was named by Women Forum 2018, as one of the 16 women who are transforming the country. She received the award “Defense of Human Rights of people deprived of liberty” by the Legal Forum in 2018. She was invited by Vital Voices to the Global group of 75 women leaders changemakers in Mumbai, India.

Learn more about Reincerta A.C.

You can listen to the other episodes of the podcast here

E5 – How one Mother’s Search for Better Education is an International Curriculum now

As March is International Women’s month, I have decided to go with the theme “Women on a Mission” and as with the other episodes this month this episode is also an interview with a member of the Vital Voices family.

In this episode, I interview Kiran, who is an incredible woman. When she realized that the curriculum at her young sons school wasnt up to the standard that she wanted it to be, she started a journey to creating one that was, and now, that curriculum is being shared with 2.2 million children around the world.

Kiran is a Designer who became a Teacher, a Principal who grew into an Education Reformer and subsequently morphed into a Social Entrepreneur.  A trained Graphic Designer, she comfortably uses the language of Design – iteration, prototype, design specs – to develop not only curriculum innovation, but also community-based Social Programmes.

After graduating from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad (India) in 1989, Kiran successfully ran her own Graphic Design Firm for over a decade.  She moved into Education when she founded The Riverside School in Ahmedabad, India in 2001, which is now viewed as a Laboratory to prototype “design processes” that enables “transformative” student learning experiences.  

Kiran is also the founder of ‘aProCh’—an initiative to make our cities more child friendly, for which she was awarded the Ashoka Fellow in 2008.  In 2009, she received the “Call to Conscience Award” by the King Centre at Stanford.

In 2009, Kiran launched “Design for Change” which uses a simple 4 step design framework – FIDS (Feel, Imagine, Do, Share) to cultivate the I CAN mind-set in all children. Today, DFC is the world’s largest movement of change – of and by children, and is in 60+ countries — impacting over 2.2 million children and 65,000 Teachers.  

Over the years, Kiran, Riverside and Design for Change have won several accolades and Awards, and some of the most recent ones are:

  • In 2017, Kiran met the Pope in the Vatican to sign an Agreement whereby DFC is being introduced in over 460,000 Catholic Schools across the Globe.
  • In 2017, DFC has been recognised as one of the 100 most innovative educational programmes in the world by HundRED.org (based in Finland).
  • In 2018, Kiran has been awarded the “Light of Freedom” Award, at the Vital Voices, U.S.A., Global Leadership Awards.
  • In 2018 Edutopia covered The Riverside School for best practices.
  • In January 2019, she has been honoured with the Lexus Design Award for 2019, in Pune, India

Kiran currently resides in Ahmedabad with her Husband – Geet Sethi and two wonderful children – their son, Raag and daughter, Jazz.  She loves listening to music, watching movies, singing, dancing and has an insane love for fruit-filled Dark Chocolates!!! 

www.schoolriverside.com  |  www.dfcworld.com  |  www.aproch.org  

You can listen to the other episodes of the podcast here