If you look around, you will find many extraordinary individuals who have silently overcome life’s biggest challenges. Activist Piya Bajwa is one of them. A three-time cancer survivor, she has literally used stones life threw at her to build a dream which has no place for inequality and discrimination. Her NGO ‘For Ability India’ fights for the rights of differently abled people. Bajwa, who’s also the force behind Nobility for Ability Charity Polo Cup, says all her endeavours are aimed to bring like-minded people together who can further stimulate masses to bring about desired change in the society. In this conversation, she talks about the forthcoming polo cup, to be held in Paris this weekend, and also throws light on her personal journey. Excerpts from an interview:
What led to the formation of NGO ‘For Ability India’?
I have founded a trust, by the name “For Ability India Trust”. “Nobility for Ability” is the cornerstone event of our NGO to generate awareness on issues that are causing inequalities in our society, festering the delicate fabric of our social bonds; issues such a children with disabilities and women who are subdued, exploited or mistreated by the family and the society for reasons beyond their control such as breast cancer. To this end, the curated “Nobility for Ability” events aim to bring together like-minded individuals, organisations, stakeholders, advocates, influencers, and contributors to raise funds in support of entities that are quietly, but diligently, working on these issues.
You held a successful event in Jaipur. Why did you want to take it to Paris?
Paris, or rather, Chantilly and its majestic and royal locale as host for the Nobility for Ability event came as an invitation. Frankly, while I had plans to take it international eventually, I never thought it would happen so quickly, that is in the very 2nd edition of the event itself!
What are the key highlights of the event in Paris?
There will be two games of polo dedicated to “Nobility for Ability” – one is the invitation game between the Rajasthan Royals featuring Padmanabh Singh of Jaipur, and the Chantilly Polo Club The other is the grand finale of the 12 goal charity cup of the Chantilly club that has been named as the “Nobility for Ability Charity Cup”. Also, Indian designer Charu Parashar will showcase her couture 2018 collection, The Indian Silk Route. She derives her inspiration from the journey of the Indian Handloom Silk which is the fabric of freedom and harmony and is hand woven. An exposition of a select collection of antique pieces of pashmina and shawls by Ahujasons will also be held.
Can you tell us about the cause behind the event? What are the NGOs involved and in what ways?
Besides For Ability India, we are supporting NGOS Optimising Development in Education (ODE) and Princess Diya Kumari Foundation (PDKF). ODE promotes the need to support and nurture inclusion of the differently abled children with learning difficulties in school and empowering them to a quality of life that’s their right. As of now, they are active in the field of Specific Learning Disability in Panchkula, Chandigarh and Mohali. The PDKF is a philanthropic social outreach initiative of politician Diya Kumari, also royal descendant from Jaipur, aimed at inclusive development and the uplift of the underprivileged in Rajasthan, with a strong focus on women and girls.
How do you think Polo and Fashion would contribute to the cause?
Polo and fashion reach out to not only those who could contribute but also a large base of audience. Through these popular disciplines, we wanted to stimulate empathy towards these social issues and hopefully stir people to do their bit to help those in need. I, therefore, try and create an event that will be an experience to remember for its participants – sponsors and attendees, so that they carry back a greater awareness about these social issues, which hopefully will trigger a desire in them to make a difference.
What’s your personal motivation behind the cause?
My life began after cancer! A self-made career woman, I held various corporate profiles spanning two decades. In this period, I was the Regional Head of the Indo-French and the Indo-Italian chambers of commerce and more recently, led the New Business division of two American chemical engineering firms in India. I am told that I was the only woman in the country to have headed the sales strategy of industrial chemicals. I was hungry to climb new heights of the corporate world, until cancer happened. While it did not stop me from working, it made me come to terms with the reality of life, and how inconsequential all achievements can turn into, in a flash.
While I accepted the reality of cancer with a practical frame of mind, in this journey I was blessed by the gracious and selfless acts of strangers who came forward to help me, and in one instance, vanished as suddenly as the appearance. Cancer was to me the doorway to the deeper sense of living. I have since, counselled cancer patients on request from my doctor and raised funds for breast cancer awareness campaigns through the Miss Universe programme in India.
My son Fateh, is a special child, who faced life head on from the moment he was born. His journey has been nothing short of a constant struggle, trying to blend with his surroundings and his peers. His poise, steadfast belief that human relations should be peaceful, positive and happy, and his spontaneous desire to help those in strife, have further defined my life, my thinking and my aspirations. He has been a beacon of what special means.
I have experienced first-hand the challenges individuals and their loved ones face against a society that is oblivious, judgemental or insensitive to those dealing with cancer, children with special needs and women who are down trodden or exploited or abandoned for social, economic or health reasons. I wanted to do something about this social apathy before it was too late for me!
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity)
* BornofWeb.com is the digital partner for Nobility for Ability Charity Polo Cup, to be held in Paris
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