Monday, August 24, 2015

The Incredible Woman of India

Image: Rhiti Bose (c)
A powerful change-maker, Rhiti Bose is the perfect example for how change comes from within. One can be moved to any extent by things that happen around them. But when it comes to taking action in a way as to make an impact, that happens only when change begins from within. Sharing her stories and anecdotes that edify these very truths, Rhiti shows us exactly why she is one of the Incredible Women of India, herself.

Could you start by telling us a little about yourself?
I am your typical next door neighbour, who lives for her family and loves her children more than her own life.  I absolutely idolize my father; he is my faith, my religion, my God. Everything I try to do is from what I have learned from him. My biggest support systems are my family and friends. The time I manage to get for myself is when I write, blog and run an e-zine named Incredible Women of India. I could tell you about my work and education, but that doesn’t define who I am, it only defines what I do. I like to live a simple life and avoid all complications as much as possible. My basic principle is to spread kindness and love for others, rest everything falls in place. And yes, my love for coffee, chocolates and books are eternal.

You served as an Ethnic Minority Mentor while in the UK. What did your work there entail?
Let me first tell you how I landed at this job, I was in the UK and I finished my teacher’s training from Manchester Metropolitan University, and was desperately looking for a job. Anything was fine by me, as we were relocating to Sheffield from Liverpool. That’s when I gave an interview for being an Ethnic Minority Mentor, I had no clue what I was getting into to be honest, and all I wanted was just a job. Little did I know this ‘just a job’ would change me for my life. EMAS (Ethnic Minority Achievement Service) works for all the ethnic minorities in UK, who enter the UK as refugees from other countries, specially conflict ridden areas, post-war. I was assigned the group of children who came from Liberia, Africa after the Second Liberian Civil War. They couldn’t speak a word of English and my job was to teach those kids English and helping them towards getting into mainstream schools.  

It broke my heart listening to their stories, trying to comprehend what they wanted to say, without even saying a word of English. There was this one child, about eight years old, a boy. He was so traumatized that he hated any form of human interaction. The first time I met him he threw a chair at me, he thought I was also an enemy. The child had witnessed his mother being raped and killed right in front of his eyes, while he was hiding underneath their bed. I cannot tell you the number of times I cried at the inhuman aspects of war, and how much pain it brings to the children of war. Slowly, I made my way into their world, teaching them and helping them getting accustomed to their new life in UK. It is that part of me which will never let me forget what inhumane things people are capable of doing, and why bringing peace all around should be our priority.

You are also passionate about working for women's rights. Can you tell us about that?  
All motivation and inspiration comes from a personal level, I believe. I have had two major experiences in life which made me really feel strongly about women and their rights.
 I was sexually abused by a known person for a period of several months when I was only four years old, as I was really young and didn’t know what was happening to me. I didn’t report as I didn’t know what to say to my parents, that man is still roaming somewhere unpunished. That scar, that memory never left me. Another one is, I went through a harrowing phase in a previous relationship, where I was subjected to emotional and physical domestic violence for almost three years. I didn’t report it either as I was too scared for my safety. I guess I was really young back then and didn’t want to accept that it was happening to me. I regret on both instances for not taking action, for not standing up for myself.
Even now, when I am happy with my husband and children (touchwood!!), those two memories haunt me, and I want no woman or child to feel the same way like I did. That is the primary driving force for me to do, what I do.

Let's talk about Incredible Women of India. What is your project all about?
Yes! Incredible Women of India aims at bringing true life inspirational women and their stories/interviews forward to motivate others to achieve better in life. I realise the platform is limited right now, as it is web based and can reach only those people who have access to an internet connection. But we plan to expand it into a full-fledged support providing system for both women and children, especially in the areas of Education, Health and Safety.

What keeps you motivated, as a person, to do the work that you do?
My experiences as a woman keeps me motivated, I want to inspire others to break free of their shadows, to rise above.

As a mother of young children, what about their growing years worries you to take action?
I can’t tell you how much I obsess about their safety, both physical and emotional, and that is what worries me the most. My childhood experiences have made me sceptical about everything. I quit my job just to be with them, as I could not bring myself to leave them in somebody else’s care. I am in talks with their school to provide children with the ‘good touch-bad touch’ workshop.

What, as a mother, do you want them to know when they grow up?
Truth, and nothing but the truth.

You can reach Rhiti Bose online using the following platforms: