For the 9 days of Navratri, Team ApeCape has something exciting in store for you. We’ve spoken to 9 special Goddesses – everyday, real, human women who inspire us by word and deed! We bring you their stories every day and hope that you love them as much as we enjoyed writing them for you.
Jacintha, our 4th Goddess, wears many hats – a seasoned HR consultant (much-loved across companies & industries), trainer, public speaker, and more. But her main calling – her passion – lies in social work. As a trustee at the HopeWorks foundation, she works in this field, impacting it daily in ways she loves. We bring you Jacintha’s story in her voice!
From HR To Social Work – The Segue
I have a Masters degree in social work. So, I’d say that right from my college days; there’s always been a desire to be part of the social impact space. However, when I started working, it was at a time when corporate offers were plentiful. So, that’s what I took up, and I did enjoy that journey as well.
Only 25 years down the line, I realized I wanted to do something different to make a difference. I wanted to permit myself to explore this avenue. I was hitting 50 around this time, and I wanted to give the best I had in me during my “second innings”.
One thing led to another, and I set up HopeWorks Foundation with many friends who have volunteered with me. It was time for the next phase on my journey, and I had just answered my calling in the field of social work.
Staying Focussed and Motivated On This Path
Last weekend, my team and I were on a visit to a long-stay home for girls. They have been rescued from a variety of vulnerable situations. Every Saturday, we go to run a program called “Hosa” (new, in Kannada). This gives girls a chance to shed their past and forge a purposeful future for themselves while providing them with the skills and emotional support they need at this time.
A little girl, about 8 years old, kept cuddling into me and seemed to be craving some sort of reassurance. We got talking, and she explained that she wanted to go home but couldn’t because her mother had abandoned the family, and she had nowhere to go. As I was processing the level of hurt the child must have been feeling, she kept herself busy looking through pictures on my phone. When she realized I had lost my dad 6 years ago, a loss that is still raw to me, she reached out and comforted me with a big hug and a simple “I’m sorry”.
Just imagine what a big heart a child like this has – one moment, she’s vulnerable and seeking reassurance, and while in that mind space, she still had the capacity to reach out in empathy and understanding. This incident is a defining example of a firm belief I have
It’s not what you are able to give to the people you are helping. It is about what they give to you,
Like in every other job, I have tasks, activities and plans to complete. But moments like this – experiences – are what we live for, and they keep us going.
Fear – The Biggest Demon To Slay
The other day, I was chatting with my 23-year-old son about life decisions and choices. The only advice I had for him was to make his choices from a place of freedom, not fear. You see, society conditions us to be scared. Our insecurities block our minds, and we cannot give ourselves the license to experience life to the fullest.
In the words of a good friend, “Fear is also a guardian”. Yes, it can be. But I’m not talking about being reckless or doing something dangerous just to overcome your fears. Instead, get rid of the voice in your head that tells you you can’t speak in public or that a career shift is a bad idea. Rather, listen to the voice that says, “Go ahead and do it, what’s the worst that can happen”. When you give yourself permission to face your fears and defeat them, you can live up to your full potential.
Courage isn’t the opposite of fear. It is what helps you overcome your fears.
Building Dreams and Futures, One Girl At A Time
We’ve given scholarships to over 60 girls to attend college. We met with the parents to tell them what our intent was so that they understood how this gave their daughters a stepping stone into their futures – survival skills, resilience, thinking.
These parents represent the unorganized segment, who are the backbone and support of the nation. When we spoke to them about their daughters’ dreams, we realized that they wanted so much more for their daughters than they had had. That’s when I figured out that you feel good, not because it’s gratitude they feel. Rather, it’s when you realize that they want to bond with you over a shared dream for their girls.
These things make you feel like you are doing something impactful by helping them see their own potential and light within.
What they give back is immeasurable. I go to bed with a smile on my face every day; that peace and those experiences are something you can’t get easily.
This is why I do what I do!
Dealing with Stress
Listen to your body. If you feel something isn’t sitting right with you – whether it’s a situation, a conversation, or just your own thoughts, here are some things that help me.
- I dissociate temporarily. I remove myself from the situation and do something completely different. This helps me come back with a clearer perspective and a mind unclouded by emotions acting under stress.
- Music and Reading. Old Hindi music and books I love have one thing in common. The sheer familiarity of them comfort me and transport me to a different time. I feel at peace and centred with my songs and books!
- Assessment. I stop and take stock of what is causing this stress or discomfort. If it is something that is under my control, I will do my best with the situation. But if it isn’t controllable, then all I do is hope for the best!
Advice to Goddesses Out There
Find your flow, and stay happy. Sounds highbrow? It’s actually very doable. Often, people have come to me and told me that they are pursuing what they are passionate about, but they’re still stressed. It was like they were swimming against the current, and something was making them uncomfortable. So how do you assess if you are in the flow?
Let me explain in the words of two industry veterans and mentors. Ask yourself the following questions whenever you want to assess if you are moving in the right direction.
- Are you content? If not, find out what can give you contentment.
- Are you grateful? Is something blocking you from gratitude?
- Are you humble, do you tread lightly? Are the feelings and opinions of all those that you interact with valid and worth considering?
And finally, remember to care for others. In doing so, you often find the best parts of yourself!
Would you like to find out more about HopeWorks Foundation? Find them on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter! Read about our other Everyday Extraordinary Goddesses – Shravanthi, Bulbul and Smitha!