The boarding gate looked deserted as I dragged my bag to one of the seats facing the mobile charging point. As usual, I had my hands full. I was holding a book in one arm and my mobile phone along with my bag in the other. I somehow always end up struggling with my bags and essentials while travelling. Carrying a book in my hand is almost as important to me as holding hands of someone trustworthy like a parent probably is, to a child.The boarding information for my flight to Dehradun was not displayed till then on the display board. I could only hope that they wouldn't change the boarding gate at the last moment. I have had that experience before. Panting for breath and exhausted, I decided to put my phone on charge and wait to see if others boarding the same flight showed up. Luckily enough for me, another young woman came up and took the seat opposite to mine within the next few mins. "I guess others don't have a gate change information either." I took my seat with a sigh of relief.
As I flipped through my new book on Angels and the study of signs and symbols related to angels, I couldn't help but notice the young woman sitting right across to me. There was something dreamy about her. She seemed blissfully absorbed in penning something down in a colorful journal. She wore her hair in a messy top knot with much of her tresses carelessly cascading over her shoulders. Her glasses were thick framed and stylish. She wore a knee length skirt with a crop top and jacket, stylishly paired with ankle length boots. I found myself admiring the way she seemed to know just what kind of attire suited her. Amidst the grey and black tone of her outfit, she had creatively brought in a dash of color with her green skirt. Besides her obvious style statement at the otherwise drab airport, she had a demeanor which conveyed to those around her, a sense of deep tranquility. "Serene" would be the best term to describe her presence. As I got up to check my phone, we caught each other's eyes and exchanged smiles. She was looking at the website of KAICIID on her phone. I could tell from the corner of my eyes. I took the chance to start the conversation. "Hey, Are you by any chance going for the Dialogue workshop in Rishikesh?"
"Yeah! I am. You are going too?" She asked.
"Yes. Hi, I am Sohini."
And the rest, is history!
The conversation continued on the plane and then as destiny had planned, we ended up as room-mates at Parmarth Niketan Ashram for the next few days. I learnt about Megha's new organization 'Our Voix' that she had started, to work for prevention of child sexual abuse and to promote child rights, her fascination for angel numbers and her incredible enthusiasm for dreaming big to manifest much needed change in the world through her advocacy and workshops. Her energy was infectious and her dreaminess, a dose of rare calm despite the proactive spirit that she embodied. At once a meditation junkie with her self-love kit full of "Art of Living" tools coupled with her creativity, Megha wore her heart on her sleeve but faced the world with an innate trust that she was protected and supported by the Universe. This girl had a dream, knew her purpose and was brimming with creativity and passion to carve out her own niche. I felt happy around her. It was as if my book of Angels had brought me into contact with a real life manifested angel in Megha. She is younger to me by a few years and at present, happens to be one of my dearest friends. Having personally known her for over a year now, I call her my Dream Catcher. She is the one who knows how to weave dreams and conjure up magical realities with the stardust in her eyes and a flip of her wavy tresses. She nurtures her dreams to fuel her voice and in moments of deep communion with the self( her self-love ritual), she promises every day to protect children by lending them her voice. As Megha says, " If we remain silent, who will speak for our children?"
"If I have to look back at when it all started, I guess it was one moment in standard IX. I had a History tutor who would come home to teach me and my sister. He had this habit of rubbing his hands on ours which was uncomfortable for us. I couldn't quite articulate then as I didn't know that it was wrong. It just felt wrong and uncomfortable. One day, I was alone in the dinning room and he started scolding me. After sometime, he started rubbing my thighs and this time, I reacted. I told him to shut up. My mother tried to apologize to him because she thought that I was misbehaving. It was only in standard XII when I told her what he had done."
Megha's experience is unfortunately the experience of one in every three children in this country. Having mustered the courage to stand for herself in her school days, Megha found her strength evolving in college where she was a student of law. She found herself gravitating towards the study of Human Rights and in her final year, stepped into her first field experience through her internship at a not for profit organization called Sophia Education and Welfare Society. This organization worked to help women raise their voices against violence. Wherever there would be rape or abuse in the Seelampur area, the NGO would take the victim to the counsellors at the police station and then have them medically examined at a government hospital. Megha assisted in this process and came across heart wrenching stories of sexual abuse of young girls, often minors. No wonder then that she chose to write her dissertation on child sexual abuse.
The next part of Megha's journey took place far away from home. She had gone to University College London for her Masters Degree in Human Rights. It is in London, that our dream catcher realized that her dreams could be as big as she would let them be. "I promised myself to not miss any opportunity in London" she says. And looks like, she didn't miss any indeed.
"I started enjoying studying about Child rights. I volunteered at Amnesty International and led their campaign Write for Rights and Save the Children. I also got the opportunity to go to the UK Parliament for a pneumonia campaign.
Besides volunteering and interning at multiple organizations, I started working part time as an event manager at SCAPE, the student accomodation of UCL. I was the first person to start meditation sessions there. I am happy that I started something that still takes place at SCAPE long after I have left the place. During this time, I also started volunteering for Art of Living organization. I started liking spending time with myself and gradually started realizing what I really liked."
As Megha started working on her dissertation on prevention of child sexual abuse, she started realizing how nothing was really done in preventive capacity in India to arrest child sexual abuse. It was always about handling the victim and taking punitive measures. Her internship with the National Society for prevention of Cruelty Against Children brought her under the wing of Megan, a voice of care and genuine interest in Megha's growth and journey. "Megan actually was interested in what I had to say and how I was growing during the internship with the marketing department of the organization. I had such fulfilling conversations with her!" Megha recalls. More of soul searching and a chance encounter with an Art of Living teacher who expressed the desire to start her own organization, led Megha to start considering that she should perhaps try to start her own organization too. Meanwhile, as our Dream Catcher was weaving her dreams to create her vision for the future, she also found the time to work for Autistic Children when she volunteered with Campden Society.
"You know, I have always had the Universe support me with the right people at the right time. As I started researching on my own organization, I met Sushant at a Sahaj course of Art of Living organization. He offered to help me with the Start-Up. After my internship, I would go to him every day to learn about the basics of bringing an idea into reality. He taught me everything from preparing my pitch to the art of pitching. Finally, I got my first donation in pounds! I knew I was ready. Oh! And I found support through angel numbers throughout this time! It was so beautiful!"
Along the way, Megha also faced a number of people who discouraged her because she was apparently "too young". This Dream weaver made a conscious choice then to hold on to her dreams, catch them and nurture them and trudged on to witness them coming into being. She held on to a piece of wisdom offered to her by her mentor Sushant during this time. He had once told her that learning to set up her own organization was like the experience of learning how to ride a cycle, she recalls. She was expected to fall flat on her face but then she would eventually learn how to move with balance if she persisted.
As her dreams gradually took flight, Megha found herself opening up in creativity. Her workshops started touching lives not just in terms of generating awareness in children and other stakeholders about preventive measures to combat child sexual abuse but also served to nudge them to indulge in self-love, something she consciously practices herself. From schools to TEDx event, her voice has reached thousands of people in the one year since her organization had started operating in India. For many a times when life had shaken her up to push her to the edge where she had felt that she would probably quit, it was the purpose of shaping the future as a safer haven than the one she inhabited in her childhood days that pushed her to keep going. She says, "No one else can tell you what you can or cannot do. And if you have doubts, ask yourself why you started with the process in the first place. I do that every time I find myself doubting my power. I am doing this only for the children. It is an answer as clear as day. It has been the same answer in the past and remains the same even to day."
I met Megha again one year after our first meeting at the airport. It was the annual Dialogue meet in Rishikesh again. Megha would slip out every now and then in between sessions to enjoy her "me-time" with her journal. One would notice her sitting in front of the Ganga, speaking to herself or maybe her angels, weaving dreams and catching them in time to work on nurturing them to create a safer reality for the children.