“The way forward is always found through greater respect for the equal rights of all.” – Martin O’Malley
Featured today is the story of Nitika, the Founder of Healing Dove Foundation, an NGO working primarily for the rights of juvenile and LGBTQIA+.
Read on to find out more about her inspiring journey:
1. What was your initial motivation to start your own NGO?
I was pursuing a diploma in human rights jurisprudence while pursuing law. As a part of the course, I had to submit a dissertation and the topic I chose to based by thesis on was the criminal justice system which involved a close study of the juvenile justice system in Pune.
The reformation and rehabilitation of the juvenile boys there became a purpose and my determination to improve the situation led me to begin HDF. While HDF works with juveniles, we also campaign for LGBTQIA+ rights and will be opening a clinic to address mental health issues faced by the community.
2. Why did you choose this specific cause?
I feel there are marginalized groups within the society that need attention, especially segments of the youth who are practically the future of this country. The common problems that plagues marginalized youth groups are- stigma and ignorance. While mindsets will gradually change, implementation of programs aiming towards the upliftment and reform, be it psychological, sociological or economic, of such groups is the need of the hour.
3.Please share details of the work that you did – the projects, events or the details of the experience as a whole.
We work end to end with all our beneficiaries and try to ensure that the impact is holistic. Our programs include counselling, skill training and job training/education based programs. Our partner insitutes provide placements which offers economic stability.
4.Do you feel like you were able to see an impact through your effort?
Most certainly. I have seen adolescents addicted to drugs owing to the psychological impact that social exclusion/lack of parental guidance/peer pressure give it up! I have seen adolescents with trauma and depression become happier people! Our programs have instilled qualities of self motivation, self confidence, human empathy honesty, love and kindness in our beneficiaries. Most of them are now doing what they love and their careers have given them a purpose.
5.How has your experience of running a non-profit organization impacted you? Tell us about some of your learnings and realizations, please.
The list in pretty long actually! But in a nutshell I can surely tell you that I have changed as a person. I have become more empathetic, bold, adventurous, daring and confident. I have started believing in my capabilities. I love taking up challenges now rather than running away from them and love stepping out of my comfort zone.
6.What keeps you motivated?
My passion to make a difference! I love what I do and that keeps me going. I am juggling a law career, a career in social work and now I am a master’s student too! So yeah, that’s a lot on my plate but I have very supportive family, friends and colleagues (especially my mom, grandmom uncle and my forever cheerleader, Aakash) who give me the required motivation and strength. They always have my back.
7.Do you have any advice/ inspiring words for others who are keen to volunteer/ start their own NGO and be the change?
Now is the time to make a change! The world needs intervention now more than ever. I believe the youth has the intellect and the creative knack to find innovative solutions to world problems. Be it NGO leaders, social entrepreneurs or volunteers, every changemaker is a game changer. I can’t emphasize how important it is now to have organizations who generate profits while creating impact.
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