Today as we celebrate International Women’s Day, NT BUZZ honours women who have achieved remarkable success in various fields. While we are certain that there are many more women out there who are equally successful, these women stand out for their exceptional work and qualities and are an inspiration to many.
By RAMANDEEP KAUR I SHERAS FERNANDES I SACHI NAIK I VENITA GOMES
Mastering it all
Manager of Panaji-based NGO; Communicare Trust, Nalini Elvino De Sousa from Campal does not know if she belongs to any particular professional field, for she’s been working in different spheres. Started by teaching Portuguese in schools, she then started the NGO where languages are her main focus, but they also gather food items for orphanages through its biannual initiative ‘The Food Bank’ and work about the cause of waste management as well.
Then she started publishing house – Lotus Libri and is about to publish the first book in a collaboration with Portugal and India schools. Nalini also has her own production company – Lotus Film and TV Production. She started making documentaries for the Portuguese TV, but now produces her own documentaries. Last October, with her colleague she started a YouTube channel ‘Travel and Learn’. “This channel contains all that I have learnt during these last 20 years in India: my knowledge of languages and culture,” adds Nalini.
Though, she has achieved some of her goals, like having her own production company, having a few documentaries in film festivals, publishing books, there is so much more she wants to achieve. After documentaries, she wants to move to fiction – her future dream.
Mantra for success: Have dreams that look to be impossible and believe in them. The rest is a piece of cake.
Women she gets inspiration from: Her mother
Determined all through
Anwesha Singbal is known for her Konkani poetry collections, Sulus, Padsad and story book, Daant, however rarely people know that she is a government accredited translator for Konkani-English. She has translated several important documents such as Citizen Charters, state policies of various government departments of Goa Government, Goa Government’s Public Works Department website from English to Konkani. Anwesha bagged prestigious award- ‘Sahitya Akademi Yuva Sahitya Puraskar 2016’. Besides, she has won ‘Yuva Chaitanya Puraskar 2014’ and was felicitated as the youngest women journalist by Sanskruti Pratishtan in 2010.
Coming from a much protected childhood where her parents, they have always tried to give her the best; keeping her away from the hardships as far as possible. “My father, who I always see as my hero, is a passionate writer and has been a part of the Konkani language movement,” she says.
Having lost her father in her prime years was a turning point. After completing her degree in Law she got into agitations including the computer agitation lead by the all Goa student’s forum, Goa Bachao Abhiyan’s agitation against regional plan etc. And here began my zeal to do something for the society. “I think all of us are special and we have something that others don’t. The problem is we don’t try and hunt it. Problem is within our families, educational system and society as a whole that pulls us back from taking the challenges,” she says.
Mantra for success: Follow your passion till the time you make it to your ambition.
Women you get inspiration from: Sudha Mhurty, Mary Kom, each woman of the Gulabi gang for their confidence, and Savitribai Phule
Verma D’Mello is a renowned Goan fashion designer who has invested effort in her art and creations. She is a helping hand for many social causes, always forward to promote Goan artists, upliftment of women, and promotes Goan culture and traditions. Verma has presented her collections at event like Paris Haute Couture Week 2015 calling for International integrity and peace, worked for the World Fashion Week 2016 three times, at San Francisco, with a collection on 29 weaves of India called ‘A Paean to Timeless India’. For her, fashion is a source and driving force to show her gratitude towards society and revive occupation of few rural women for self reliance.
“ The challenges I faced have always been inspiring me. I felt that everything in my life is a challenge because it gave me a joy of facing and overcoming them. I believe that if I run away from the challenges, it is my failure,” she says before adding that internationally, there were a lot of fear of rejections but she made it clear to herself that she will leave a mark … and she did it.
Mantra for success: You become what you believe you are!
Women you get inspiration from: Kalpana Chawla
Mobilising positive change
A teacher, Priya Almeida tried various kinds of careers from teaching, freelance writing medical transcription, soft skills training, Zumba fitness instructor, life and wellness coach, nutrition and fitness consultant, agriculturist but it was the zeal to give something back to society that overpowered everything else. Priya is the academic coordinator of pre-primary teachers training programme under MHRD; secretary Adv Rudolph Almeida Memorial Trust/Institute, Navelim; founder director BRAND ME institute of holistic development, life and wellness coach; freelance writer and access consciousness therapist.
She had a perennial itch to help and that’s why she embarked on this altruistic journey to help women and unprivileged children from Goa. Priya believes that we are put on this earth not to see through people but to see people through, “this is what impelled me in the direction I am headed right now – bringing joy, cheer and the will to live life to the fullest in the less fortunate and especially when it comes to women’s empowerment and bringing out their inner beauty,” she says.
She describes her journey thus far to be eventful, fraught with challenges not undefeatable though. “I say this because altruistic and humanitarian efforts are always thwarted by negative forces. We have had to deal with brickbats, non-cooperation, vilification and the like. But perseverance paid off as bad times don’t last forever,” she says. Priya says that changing mindsets of certain sections of society is easier said than done.
Mantra for success: Happiness stems from service to man and nature.
Women you get inspiration from: My English teacher Otilia Costa from school
For quality service
For many success is a great achievement; it is a point in their life, when they are able to prove their true potential and capabilities to people, but North Goa collector, IAS Nila Mohanan has a different perspective to life and success. For her success is different. She believes that a person needs to strive towards working for something that will satisfy his own self rather than focusing on success and defeat. She says: “I do not think in terms of success or defeat; I would call it satisfaction. If a person has the conviction that s/he wants to do something valuable in life, then anyhow they will overcome all odds in life.”
Over the years she worked in various fields and today she handles and monitors the administration in North Goa as the collector. Her aim has been to serve people and strive to improve quality of services in the state. She says: “There is a different kind of satisfaction in working for the people. In Goa there are few issues that sprung in terms of functioning, administration and there is a need to efficiently work towards improving and rectifying them. In this field my focus has been to see to it that the administrative process in the state has been made easy for the general public.”
Nila holds a MPhil degree in international relations. With the experience she has gathered over the years, she feels that every field has its own challenges and every woman irrespective of bureaucrat, doctor or teacher has to overcome them. “As a woman, she has to deal with a number of problems that come her way. Not only professional but personally, like learning the art of balancing family and professional life, giving equal importance to both and trying not to mix them. Also, working for the betterment of the society,” she says.
Mantra for success: Work for satisfaction, success will follow.
Women you get inspiration from: Her mother
Concerned about nature
Tallulah D’Silva, who is a well-known architect, is equally popular for her environmental work. She got interested in environment as she got influenced by her dad who would spend a lot of time outdoors. Tallulah says: “When I started working and when my children came along, my connection to community only became stronger. Normally when a child is born women feel that there is more responsibility but for me it was the opposite, after I had my children I felt more liberated.” She adds that her childhood environment and her children sparked something that she wanted to do for the community or the environment.”
She is successful in her field, and has been involved in community work also but she never thought she would be an achiever or leader or a successful woman. Tallulah says: “We say behind every man there is a successful woman but I feel that phrase needs to be redefined. It should say that along with every successful person; whether a man or woman there are people around them who play a supporting role.”
As far as challenges are concerned, she says that challenges are constantly there but the key is once you are passionate about something, you have to pursue it even when you are alone.
Mantra for success: Give wings to all your ideas; never let any idea die a premature death. Failure is the stepping stone to success.
Women you get inspiration from: Saint Mother Teresa and Norma Alvares
A fight for identity
Since birth transgender and social activist from Goa, Diana Dias, has been fighting a battle to be integrated into society. While most of us have unforgettable childhood memories, Diana’s childhood was filled with agony; she did not get the best in life. Though she was born a male she felt she was a female owing to her feminine tendencies. “My sexuality was decided when I was born, and time and again I was reminded that I am a boy and I should behave and live accordingly. I knew something was wrong as my sexual organs weren’t developing but I was scared to express myself because of the fear of my parents,” she says.
Despite her parents objections she started wearing feminine clothes and hence was removed from the house. She wandered on the Vasco railway station for over a week where she was sexually abused. She went to Pune and was made to beg. “I was shaken and felt disgusted when I would have to beg for money. That was the time when I thought that this was not what I wanted to do”, she says. She decided to come back to Goa and worked as a bar dancer to earn a living.
The community is discriminated and stigmatised in society and hence Diana formed the group named Wajood Goa mainly to make the transgender community to understand that they too are entitled to equal rights in society. “Even a transgender has all the fundamental rights mentioned in our Constitution. I struggled to make the community understand about their rights,” she says. She has also rendered voluntary service for the betterment of other sections and to sensitise the public about the transgender community. Diana’s focus area of work is to provide security and education to this community and serve humanity.
Mantra for success: Don’t be bothered about what people are saying; just keep moving forward with positive thoughts.
Women you get inspiration from: Saint Mother Teresa and Diana, Princess of Wales
Motivated to serve society
Many aspire to make the society a better place but only a few works towards making things better for the people and society, and one such personality is North Goa Superintendent of Police (SP), Chandan Choudhary who has been serving as a police officer for nearly eight years. Her journey from an assistant professor at Delhi University to becoming the SP is one memorable piece filled with challenges and tests, but however she managed to overcome them and today she confidently tackles every case that is presented to her.
“In the last eight years I have been serving in various capacities of police and this has made and trained me to become who I am. I have tackled crime cases ranging from murder to shooting to several other cases related to family issues,” says Chandan who feels that if cases are not dealt at a primarily level then thing can turn out to problematic in the future.
In the year 2010, Chandan got selected for the Indian Police Service was posted to Goa in 2016 where she took charge as commandant Indian Reserve Battalion. Subsequently in the year 2017 was posted as North Goa SP.
Managing family and profession has been a tedious task for Chandan but that has not stopped her from achieving her goal which is to reach out to people by solving their problems. She says: “In Goa the crime scene is not as much as it is in other cities. It is a peaceful state.”
Mantra for success: Consistent hardwork and nothing is impossible
Women you get inspiration from: Her mother
The sweet enduring journey
Born in the beautiful island of Divar which has given birth to a couple of talented chefs, pastry chef at Goa Marriott Resort and Spa, Samantha Nunes, is one of them. “I was born in a family of foodies where everyone takes their food very seriously,” says Samantha.
For her, food has been an ongoing ‘treat’ for over nine years now. She always had a flair for baking and the chef’s uniform attracted her from as early as she can remember. She adds: “In fact, I could say that if there is one thing that is always exciting and innovative, it is food! So from day one I knew I would be a chef. Ever since I can remember, cooking and baking have been my passion and first love. So, for me choosing to be a pastry chef was just a natural progression of that interest.”
After attaining her hotel management degree, she was recruited by the Taj, completed the Management Training course and graduated with a specialisation in bakery and confectionary and continued working for the same company, until she moved to Goa Marriott Resort and Spa.
Just like her profession that deals with a lot of sugar, her journey has also been as sweet as cake. She says: “There were no challenges as such, it’s the best job ever; you get to be creative and experiment all you like.”
Though the job requires long hours and a lot of dedication and hard work, it’s definitely not easy; you have to give it your 100 per cent every single day. “A chef gets to employ her creativity to the fullest and come up with tantalising creations, making it a very satisfying profession, and you will definitely find yourself very happy,” says Samantha.
Mantra for success: Discipline, focus, hard work, dedication and a positive attitude.
Women you get inspiration from: Her mother