Thursday, September 01, 2011

When a woman leads…

As a staunch believer of 'live and let live' philosophy, I am scared of places that have a reputation for being extremely intolerant to other ideas, other religion and other races. Gujarat of India is one such place where communal riots, burning and looting of religious minorities are common features. Naturally, I was a little scared to travel there. But when I did travel, I met  amazing people and got stories worth telling for decades. Here is a few line about of those people.

Rihana, 27, lives in a slum of India’s Ahmedabad city. For years, poverty and hunger were constant companions of this daughter of a daily wage earner; often there was no food at home and to suppress the hunger clawing inside her, Rihana would chew tobacco, among other things, just like other young people around her did.

Years later, Rihana now worked for an NGO that trains young people like her into video making. In many ways she was now playing a community leader’s role, highlighting problems, generating awareness and initiating discussions.

In Dec’ 2009 Rihana was working on a new video, focused on tobacco addiction among the urban poor.  As she worked, Rihana was hit by a thought:  she, who was asking others to give up addiction, was a tobacco addict herself.
So, on the day that the shoot of the video began, Rihana took an oath to give up chewing tobacco forever.

The video went on to win lots of accolades and saw at least 50 young people giving up their addiction to tobacco. Besides technical qualities, what really made it special is the fact that the maker of the video was a woman who decided to practice what she preached.

And that, to me, is the example of a real leader who leads by example!

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