Passionate people sacrificing for a social cause have been a familiar sight on this soil. Such people make the world a better place by nurturing and guiding the ones who do not have the resources to pave the way for themselves.
Ms Harsimar D, Director Corporate Office of Little India Foundation, stands in the same queue of people driven by the thirst for fulfilling social responsibilities. Ms Harsimar fulfilling her lifelong desire to give it back to society is a story that deserves to be celebrated. The Knowledge Review had an interview with Ms Harsimar to learn more about her journey and future endeavours.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Kindly walk us through your journey from the beginning.
I have always believed in giving back to society, especially as a fashion designer who travelled every month around the globe. Each time I returned, I was disturbed and felt what I could do to give back.
Then I heard of the Annual Art Calendar Hunt. My daughter was so concerned about giving back to society by painting and help selling art calendars that we participated in the programme. There I went to meet the Founder of the Little India Foundation, Salim Khan. After meeting him, I went for Seva myself to feed the kids.
Langar seva with my hands seemed so natural and fulfilling that it became a way of life. It’s been three and a half years, and this seva has not stopped, even during covid, and after this journey with God’s blessings, it is a part of me.
My purpose in life is to empower myself to empower others, and today, I am a passionate social worker who is dedicated to giving back to society. In addition to my work, I strive to make a positive impact by changing women’s perspectives of one another. I believe that when women see each other as allies and sources of strength, we can grow and thrive together. My goal is to empower women to support and uplift one another, creating a more inclusive and equitable society for all.
Tell us about your organization’s mission, vision and core values.
Little India Foundations’ mission is to help in spreading smiles, connecting people with food. We believe no one should sleep hungry or die of hunger. With this mission in mind, we continue with our one meal a day campaign, where we ensure one meal each day in a slum feeding a minimum of 100-200 kids daily, giving them a balanced meal for their growth.
We are also focusing on our Learn with fun centres, where we teach children soft skills, basic literacy and remedial classes for the children in higher classes in the slums itself.
Through our Nari Shakti program, we encourage women to be each other’s support, and guide, helping one another to grow to their full potential.
Our mission is to do seva on a more prominent pedestal and build a nursing home and an orphanage in Delhi NCR so we can look out for our community.
Kindly brief us about the featured person and how they contribute for the betterment of the society.
Harsimar is the Director Corporate Office at Little India Foundation. She married 18 years ago to a business family. The family had a big-shot fashion export house, and Harsimar was pretty new to this industry. She had no technical and practical knowledge of the above. But she stepped up and decided to learn the skill. She gained experience by working with world-class designers from all over the world. It can be said that she learnt from the best.
Despite all the setbacks, she gave herself enough motivation to make it to the top. She believes, “If you have the motivation to do something, it’s possible.”
She has travelled worldwide, from South America to Korea, France and many more, for fashion fairs.
Her journey in Little India Foundation began long ago. First, about three and a half years ago, her daughter enrolled in Little India Foundation’s art calendar work. She was very impressed with the kind of work Little India Foundation was doing. She got in touch with the organization after being inspired by them and their work for humanity. After a few months, she slowly and steadily became a full-time member of the Little India Foundation and left her work as a fashion designer.
She dedicated herself entirely to working for humanity by the time COVID came. During the first wave, they were out in their own cars, distributing food, water, clothes etc., to needy people. With this, Little India Foundation is growing daily and helping more people.
The second wave was pretty harsh, and hence a 24/7 helpline number was managed by the founder and her, who answered every call. They had been voice support to each and every individual.
They also ensured that everyone was given the best possible relief and assistance. After the second wave ended and the situation became a little normal, she thought that as she had been from the fashion world, she thought of setting up Naari Shakti Awards platform for all the upcoming women entrepreneurs and helping empower women. As we all know, somewhere down the line behind every successful man, there is a woman who has always been behind. She set up a platform for women’s empowerment where they showcase inspiring stories about women’s journeys today. All the contribution done towards this gets tax benefits. Today, they have leading influencers, women entrepreneurs, artists, and singers who have been a part of the journey.
The awards are registered under the Little India Foundation act with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs under a not-for-profit organisation, adding a flagship to the Naari Shakti today. They have even partnered with Business Views, one of the leading international online news portals, to ensure each Women’s Empowerment story reaches everyone. With this, Little India Foundation has been growing every day and helping more and more people under the leadership of Salim Sir and Harsimar Ma’am.
“We are just ‘zariiya’ to do this ‘seva’. God above has chosen us to do this. It’s not him or me who is doing this; it’s God above making us do this for the community today,” believes Harsimar.
What message would you like to give people?
God has given us so much; we need to be thankful and kind to others; all we request from our foundation team and family is that we can celebrate one special occasion among the needy today and help us spread smiles Also, give yourself that ‘me’ time and try to understand what you want.
Look inside deeper to find something that satisfies you to that more profound level, whether it is prayers or being in the presence of a saint, work, sewa, or whatever it is that makes you feel truly blessed and happy.
Please elaborate on the initiatives you have undertaken thus far.
Growing up, I always assumed that the only way I could conduct Seva was to organise a langar and feed people.
But God Almighty has been instrumental in giving me so many abundant ways in which we can reach out to people in need; without a doubt, food is the best channel, and that is mostly what I have done. Seeing the joy on those children’s faces as they received food and snack packages has been really rewarding.
Until now, we have worked on mediums such as providing dry rations to families, sanitary pads to women, distribution of clothes and food, and covid relief goods such as masks and sanitisers.
Little India Foundation also conducted a nutritional food drive where nutritional food items like rice, lentils, milk products etc., were distributed to needy children. Ice creams were also distributed to contribute to the joyfulness of the children.
Can you shed some light on your upcoming projects?
Some of our upcoming projects are:
- Learn with fun
- Women’s stitching centre
We also support street pets, dogs, cows, monkeys, etc. But as you know, we only have two hands; we need more people to come forward, join hands and support us, be it in kind or financially.
Financial support plays a vital role in making any project sustainable for community building, so with your given platform, I am thankful today that more and more people who are listening to me should come forward and volunteer, support, and spread the word about our work reach so we can together make this work for others.
Please mention your and your organization’s most notable achievements, accolades, and awards.
I am extremely honoured to have been given some of the prestigious recognitions and awards. A few of them are:
- Women who win- Guest of Honour for Women’s Day
- Best supporter and best social activist, Rajdhani Gaurav Awards
- HBW News Global Achievers Awards 2021
- Women Icon Of the Year Award 2022
- Honoured International Women’s Day 2020 pledge by the Ministry of Women and Child Development
Some of the awards and allocations we have received for our work till now are:
- Gaurav Rajdhani Awards, Seasons 2 and 3
- The City Salutes You Award by a select city walk
- Krishna Social Welfare Award
- Jayan Foundation Award • Inner Wheel Club of Delhi Vasant Vihar Corona Award
- Great Sports Cultural Club Samman
- Hari Narayan Memorial Trust Award
- United-Forum Peace and Harmony Award
- agriti Ek Masahaal Award
- HBWnews Network Global Achievers Award
- Shakti 2.0 Award
How do you envision your future?
I believe that the idea of ‘seva’ should be taught to all children. Giving back to your own society should be something that each and every individual should incorporate into their daily lives and feel obligated to give back. Our goal at Little India Foundation is to collaborate with as many people as we can in order to improve society as a whole, specially women.
We welcome and encourage more women to join us and become a part of this movement. We are actively seeking women to take up leadership positions in the Nari Shakti organization to lead and inspire others to join and form a strong support network for one another.
By being a part of this team, you can be an example of giving back to society and making a meaningful impact. Together, we can create a world where women as well as children are empowered to succeed, support one another, and thrive.