Name: Neha Anand
Business: Meri Pehchaan Society
Location: Lucknow, India
Industry: Healthcare, Wellness & Fitness
Reason for starting? My motive to start Meri Pehchaan Society was to help as many women and girls as I can. The society we live in today has made it so difficult for women to voice their point of views, so I wanted to create a platform where women could talk and share their grievances with people who make them feel heard for a change. My idea was to create a space where underprivileged young girls could feel free to ask questions about almost anything and older women can talk about whatever it is that’s bothering them because, sadly, our society is not interested in woman’s problems. The goal of Meri Pehchaan is to create a society where women are better understood and are given equal opportunity to talk and, most importantly, make their own decisions. The key to empowerment is as basic as being free to make your own life choices, and that is exactly what Meri Pehchaan wants to provide women with.
How do you define success? For me success is a smile. A nod of appreciation, a glimmer in a girl’s eyes when she finally realises that it’s time for her to make her own decisions. When we reach out to young underprivileged girls and women who have never had the opportunity to express their feelings, their fears and doubts, who have never had anyone understand them or even listen to them, to be there for them, even for a day, is an achievement. My work becomes successful when by the end of our session with those thousand women there’s at least one of them who’s decided to take charge and make change. When a woman has finally decided to feel free and make her own life choices, she helps others, then those other women help more. It creates a chain reaction. So success for me is being able to affect any one person, and the rest happens on its own.
Biggest success: One of the biggest projects of our organization has been a project called “Change for Change,” a unique and innovative empowerment program created for young girls aged 9 to 15. The most vulnerable girls who were in dire need of confidence were shortlisted for a series of workshops in which they were given training for self development. Change for Change is truly designed to impart life skills so that girls can cope with the social evils like teasing, harassment and domestic violence. This really brought meaningful change in all the girls of the Vardan International Academy.
What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? The biggest challenge we’ve had to face is the stigma attached to mental health issues. There’s a dangerous lack of awareness when it comes to problems related to our mind. Depression these days has become like common cold; statistics says three in every 100 people living in India suffer from depression. In spite of such shocking data people are still in denial about it. That has been and will continue to be one of our biggest challenges.
Being a practicing counsellor and a psychotherapist for 11 years now, whenever I deal with people in grief and despair, I realize that there are so many more suffering from similar or even worse situations. Sitting on a couch confined in my chamber I can’t help the masses. I can’t end suffering and pain of people without getting involved in a community. People need a shoulder to cry on and a non-judgmental ear to whom they can vent out to, and we want to be that for them. Meri Pehchaan’s dream project is WHY (We Hear You); we plan on building a panel of professionals who will be exclusively dealing with issues of people from all spheres of life.
Who is your most important role model? My role model is Swami Vivekananda. His wisdom, service to mankind. His spiritual teachings and beliefs make him the most intellectual saint India could ever have. I would like to follow his path and pave a way for a revolution in accepting mental illnesses and help out anyone in need. My wish is to create a society that is sensitive towards all of its members and accepts them exactly the way they are.
Edited by The Story Exchange