Sonia Mackwani – a young energetic multitalented Founder of an NGO called Touching Lives, with multi projects for social cause at her hand.
She is a Psychologist, writer, hypnotherapist and metaphysics researcher, who uses her talent and knowledge for the betterment of others.
1. At such a young age what made you choose social work path?
Fortunately….I sensed my purpose in this life…and so…began ‘Touching Lives’
2. How Hypnotherapy and Clinical Psychology has helped your Touching Lives Work?
Well, both of them I learned with intensions to help and understand myself and thus eventually it has led me to the path of understanding others. It has helped me socially to understand how better and in quality way I would be able to help people. Both Psychology and Hypnotherapy have complemented each other in my life.
3. What does TL exactly do?
TL’s vision and mission is ‘love’ and ‘humanity’ in your day to day walk of life. It means spreading love and touching lives, be it yours or be it others. TL is a project-based organization which believes in serving anybody and everybody. TL is divided into various zones of work as in, Education zone, Health zone, Entertainment Zone, Administrative Zone, Networking Zone etc, within which we carry out many projects. Currently we are running one slum school between Borvili-Dahisar. The projects are for mental rehabilitation, training on therapies, funding for education and medical help.
4. Elaborate on your journey in establishing TL’
Touching Lives begin when I was 21, graduating from Mithibai College of Arts-majoring in Psychology. I also had taken up evening diploma course in Journalism. Touching Lives began when I started sharing about my plans and aims to the people. Had spoken to anonymous people and developed a TEAM of similar interest. And yes, they were dedicated too. To have financial support to back-up my organization, I started taking tuitions in the afternoons and workshops on Sundays. Finally after some money to call people and travel around, we gathered children at the Fort area Churchgate and started our work….and since then the phases of learning, trial and error and ultimate success have always bought opportunities to grow, grow and keep growing. During my Masters, TL became more organized and it was time to get registered. To have it registered I wrote two books for children on contract basis and thus TL was registered in 2006. I finished my Doctorate and thus conducted many workshops for mental rehabilitation.Since then …we have grown….!!!
5. Who are the people who are instrumental in your success?
My parents, My TEAM, my friends, my great companion; my books, my soul-mate, people whom I meet everyday from my building guard to iron –man..and yes…most importantly…people who give me a chance to serve them. And I take this opportunity to thank all of them who have had faith in me.
6. What motivated you to launch this NGO?
Touching Lives is my being and my existence. It is my purpose of life and living. What motivated me was this very sense of feeling responsible and taking responsibility of the universe where not only serving others but also serving myself was important. Today, when I look back, I realise that it was completely my need to serve.
7. How is it running an NGO?
Well, its living, breathing, surviving, enjoying and in the end….what more than BLISS!!! Transcended! Surrendered!
8. Were there any stumbling blocks? How did you overcome them?
Indeed there were waves and they are still there but with the only difference that now I am quite aware of them. Stumbling blocks, I am happy they were there ‘cos each time they came, they have showed us our own strengths and will-power. However….my personal major blocks are laziness and procrastination. Haha. But by being aware of my passion and dream and when I go to my center and see our children, my desire awakens again..and the cycle goes on. Most important for me was to work on my Time Management. Rest, I believed that once you have people, time and knowledge, you can together work for developing your necessary resources.
9. Some memorable incidences at TL
Although everyday is a special day, there are couple of them which has inspired me, touched my life too. One of them is when I spoke to a blind kid who played flute on Dadar station. He mentioned to one of my asked q ,’ if I think begging is bad, I would not be able to even do that.’ That simply touched my heart…Another incident was when we conducted an exhibition of the paintings done by one of the inmates of Thane mental asylum. When he looked around watching his own paintings, he said, ‘I always wanted to be a renowned painter…and conduct one man show…today that dream comes true. Thank you’ The hope in his eyes were enough for his rehabilitation.
10. Has the TL journey changed you in any way?
Yes, it’s vision and mission of love and humanity has nurtured my beingness.
11. How can today’s youth contribute to orgs like TL
Many ways. Through TIME, KNOWLEDGE, MONETARY. They can also be a part of TL by just helping their selves to do things they want to, to initiate and to lead their dreams, to spread the message of love, through their thoughts or prayers for others, through touching one life in their lives.
12. What is success s to you?
When I see success in the lives of the volunteers serving in Touching Lives, it makes me feel as if yes, the mission is indeed working…the vision of love is successful. All the endeavours are successful although one I remember always is when I saw the spark in the eyes of an inmate of Thane Mental Asylum, when we held an exhibition of his paintings.
And many moreeeeeeeeeee….
13. How does it feel to be an entrepreneur? is the age factor a deterrerent or an impetus
Well, entrepreneur is just a name .Personally, I feel I am fulfilling my duties and responsibilities towards my dream and honestly…do one really needs to be an entrepreneur to love someone…????????
But yes…a good feeling of contentment with all the experiences, I am having being a Founder. It’s a cycle of exploring oneself and others, learning and how creatively one can touch lives. I only remember my age when I am nearing my birthday….hehe….I would be turning 26 now…this month.
14. What are upcoming events?
At present, we are running ‘Touching Lives Sanskriti Center’ at Dahisar-Borivili for the children living in the slums and thus, we have plans to rehabilitate them. To come up with permanent centre for their welfare.
We are currently working on the project called ‘Touching Lives Open School Center’ a place where mind is fearless and knowledge is liberation. This project is very important to me as I vision it to be immortal and that the institution keeps serving generation after generation.
Music Album is another project which would be a part of Touching Lives Media and Entertainment Zone. We have collected children from the streets who spend their livings through playing music and singing and thus would rehabilitate them.
We have already ventured for online networking project, the main focus of which would be research and surveys on social cause.
We are also associated with ‘Atma Viswas Vidyalaya’ which is rehabilitation center for mental illness at Valsad, Gujarat. And thus, we look forward to helping the rural areas with our resources and expertise there.
And many more in pipeline….
15. Any message to your peers
Love, Love & Love is my message. Love oneself …and love others….rest all will fall at place. Create your dreams …you are ‘THE’creator….!!!!!
16. Any other plan of action on personal front
a. As an author, I am looking to work on my stories. Currently , I am working on 4 books…One is a ‘Fable cum self-help book’ based on the teachings of Bhagvad Gita, two of them are the novels based on life and metaphysics, and last one is the collection of anecdotes.
b. Lyricist: I like composing songs in Hindi and English…and thus looking forward to music world …learning vocal and instrumental.
c. Documentaries and filming…is on my mind…have done scriptwriting for documentary…now looking to learn more.
And yes…..I am truly looking forward to enter into this wonderful institution of marriage too…
More information on Touching Lives can be found at www.touchonelife.org
—————————————————-Interviewed By Laxmi Khalap Bhatt, Editor, www.naarisakhi.com