GOLD NGO In Guwahati – An Interview With Kaberi SharmaBy
An acclaimed personality working tirelessly towards the growth of a progressive nation, Kaberi Sharma has been involved with the non-governmental organization, Global Organisation for Life Development (GOLD) for the past 19 years. She is extremely passionate about her work and has strived to materialize what only used to be distant hope for hundreds of lives across the state.
Her boldness and dedication towards such a noble cause, which is frowned upon in the mainstream society have brought her fame all over the state.
GOLD has 2 shelter homes. Ujjawala and Swadhar. Ujjawala combat human trafficking and at present gives shelter to 22 traffic victims. Swadhar aims in assisting women without any social and economic support to become self-reliant in short span of time.
Recently on 21st April, Union Cabinet Minister for Women & Child Development, Maneka Gandhi visited her UJJAWALA shelter home. Mrs Gandhi meet and interacted with the girls and was happy to see their works related to handicraft, embroidery etc. She had stated to Mrs. Kaveri about the shelter home as – “A place of hope and grace. Thank you for being there for all the girls who need a second chance at life.”
GOLD NGO interview with Kaberi Sharma
Me: Hello Ma’am. I would love to know a little bit about you and your organization.
Kaberi:(Taking a sip from her coffee mug)
Well, I grew up in a family of three sisters and two brothers in the blissful town of Tezpur, Assam. My childhood was quite happy and uneventful. I got my bachelor’s degree in Geography from Darrang College, Tezpur and worked as a teacher at Guwahati Public School, Guwahati for several years after I got married.I have been involved with Global Organization for Life Development (GOLD) since its inception as one of the founder members. GOLD works for the aid of women belonging to the marginalized section of the society, mostly sex workers and victims of trafficking. We try to help them in whatever way possible to provide a better quality of life and wider opportunities for growth.
Me: What inspired you to bring forth GOLD?
Kaberi: The idea came up one day as my husband and I were driving through a certain part of the city known for notoriety and establishment of commercial sex-workers. That day, as we saw the young women roaming about the streets, an inexplicable feeling of grief rushed into our hearts. We had seen those women several times before but had never given the issue as much thought as we did then.We realized that instead of hoping that somebody else would do something for them, we could actually help them. Both my husband and I shared the idea with a few people we knew and they got interested too. Thus, with the involvement of several eminent people of the city from various backgrounds like medicine, law, police, mass media and business, GOLD was born on 19th August 1998.
Me: That seems very interesting. Could you briefly share your journey up until now?
Kaberi: The very first project undertaken by Global Organisation for Life Development (GOLD) was a health camp for commercial sex-workers in and around Guwahati. We provided health check-ups and medicines free of cost to them. It was during this program that we had a chance to communicate closely with these women.It turned out that these workers did not just require medicines, many of them wanted to join the mainstream society and earn their bread through intellectual skills. Thus, with immense help from the local police and passionate sponsors we started a new project with 247 sex workers where we provided the girls with small business kiosks like tea counters, paan shops and also magazine and newspaper stands for the ones who were literate. The project also included a policy where we would reach the women and provide them with aid within two hours of receiving information from the police.
Me: What other organizations do you strongly support and are involved with, in however small way it might be?
Kaberi: We are involved with Rescue Foundation, Mumbai and Pune; Prajwala, Hyderabad and Arz, Goa to name a few.
Me: Your organization has grown a lot in the last few years. We would love to learn about some accomplishment in your career that you consider extremely inspiring.
Kaberi: Working in a field like this, I come across cases every day that absolutely break my heart. But there was one incident several years ago that remains etched in my mind forever.We had rescued a girl who had been trafficked at a young age, and she was living at one of our shelter homes. She had been taught a little bit of reading, writing, and certain handiwork and was almost ready to be offered employment. We had received her home investigation report and upon agreement took her home. It was around dusk when we reached her village. Her mother used to work in a nearby household, and upon hearing about our arrival came home running. I still remember the scene clearly in my mind as if it had happened only yesterday. The mother came out of the house holding a kerosene lamp, and when she laid her eyes on her daughter, tears came rushing out like a river. They hadn’t seen each other for 10 years and sat sobbing and hugging for a long time. The emotions that were emanating from the duo managed to touch each one of us present there.
Me: How did your journey up until now help you grow personally?
Kaberi: In terms of personal growth, I would say that my work has made me much wiser than I was before. When you are in a field like this, you have to work with an understanding of human emotions and make the most out of what you have.
I have helped to rescue and establish more than 2000 girls as of yet, and am proud to say that most of them regard me as a loving guardian. I have also married off 5 girls from our shelter home and am likewise a part of five beautiful families.
Me: That is indeed quite an achievement! Working so hard for the last two decades, persistence is definitely the key to success. What makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning?
Kaberi: At this point in my life I am extremely devoted to the cause of GOLD. My biggest drive in life is to help these unfortunate women in need. I feel a humanitarian call in rescuing them, establishing them in the society and making their lives happy and secure.I think of each girl I rescue as my own daughter. I am their mother, teacher, guardian and ring master.
Me: You are an inspiring personality, especially as an empowered woman. Is there any message that you would like to share with our readers, young and old?
Kaberi: One key lesson that I think is forgotten as quickly as it is emphasized is that hard-work and perseverance can get you wherever you want in life.We all have visions and desires, but only a few people achieve them in a sizeable amount. The most important thing to remember and to abide by is that motivation will only get you started. It is discipline that will push you to step by step and help you to reach your goal.
Me: How would you describe yourself?
Kaberi: I believe I am a very positive person. Over the years, I have realized that being pessimistic is going to get you nowhere. I try to spread my happiness and positivity as much as I can with the girls I work with. Dealing with such sorrowful pasts, they are the ones who need it the most.
Me: What dreams do you hope to achieve one day, work-wise or personal?
Kaberi: One of the most significant dreams in my life is to work for and live in a society where no human being has to sell their body due to poverty or trafficking.
Me: On a more casual note, our readers would love to know a little bit about your interests and hobbies. What else do you like do, outside of work?
Kaberi: (Chuckling) Most people who are acquainted with me personally know that I am not an all work and no play kind of person! I do take my me-time seriously and enjoy indulging in treats once in a while.I have a lovely kitchen garden sown all by myself and I try to spend as much time as I can working in it. I love to cook and hang about with my friends and family. Once in a while, I also like to try my hand at embroidery which a long lost hobby of mine.
Me: Winding up this lovely afternoon rendezvous, there is one last question I would like to ask you. Could you share any advice on dealing with work-related stress and setbacks?
Kaberi: Speaking of setbacks, all I would say is that don’t get disheartened by failure. Every day is a new opportunity to succeed. A notion that keeps me constantly moving forward is that out of 100 girls that we rescued, there were at least 50 who stayed with us.
RimTimmers are proud of a woman like Kaberi Sharma who is selflessly fighting and supporting a section of women in the society, who are mostly ignored.
Contact/Address of GOLD NGO In GuwahatiAddress: Pub-sarania, 1st By lane (west), House No-14, Chandmari, Guwahati, Assam – 781003
Phone No: +91-361-2523155