If there was ever an event that mesmerized me to my bones and for the only reason that it had such life influencing thoughts from inspiring speakers, it was TEDWomen 2017 at New Orleans in November earlier this year.
Although each one of the talks and ideas shared were one better than the other, I have recollection of a few and those that struck with me instantly. Anushka, the 14 yr old young lady to the ever-so-graceful Leah Chase at sweet 94s spoke of their incredible stories of life. Let me share below some of the wonderful stories of these awesome speakers (mostly ladies) with you.
This was one talk that really struck a chord within me. In artist and poet,
Cleo‘s own words, “Be good to as many people as possible.” I feel this is the thing that is needed most in today’s world. We have enough smart people and mathematicians, enough scientists and computer programmers, but we definitely need more caring people, loving people, people who are willing to help, people who are at peace within themselves so they can share the message of peace with others, people who are more compassionate, those who believe in forgiveness and non-violence. Such people can definitely make the world a better place. And each one of us can play a role in making the world a better place for our kids by imbibing these qualities in ourselves and passing them on to the younger generation. I was lucky to meet Cleo in person. In the picture, with Cleo and my translator friend Raissa Mendes from Brazil.
Imagine being a girl having to live most of your childhood as a boy! Doesn’t seem easy , does it? But for Shameem Akhtar, belonging to one of the most backward tribes of Pakistan, this was a reality. Her story is really motivating. She lived most of her childhood as a boy, just so that she could go to school. The reason being that girls in her village were not allowed to go to school or get educated. Her uncle helped her to take the first step onto the road of freedom, but the desire to learn and be free has brought her where she is today. She fought through her circumstances and with her family for further studies and then a job. And seeing her example, many others started sending their daughters to school. All the girls in her village are able to attend school today. But, that’s not where she will rest. She wants to bring about the much needed change in and around her village and the rest of the world. We send best wishes to Shameem and hope that she be able to succeed in her endeavor.
The audience was dumbstruck at this 14-year old’s achievement. At 13, she finished in the top eight, in an international science contest run by google by inventing a bandage that could speed healing of wounds. At 14, she is one of the speakers at TEDWomen. It is commendable. She asks herself questions, does her own research, takes part in science fairs and competitions to gain knowledge. She has her own little workspace in her garage where she conducts her research and experiments. While kids her age are surfing the net, playing games or busy on social media, she is using her resources for a good cause. I was lucky to meet her after the conference.
A former rap artist from Zimbabwe, now a psychiatrist spoke about his innovative Grandma therapy on a friendship bench, in order to treat depression. There are just 12 psychiatrists in Zimbabwe. It is obvious they are not enough to take care of all the patients. Hence, Dr. Chibanda thought of a new way to deal with the crisis. He has been taking the help of grandmas in the communities to help treat depression. With help of training provided by the doctor and cognitive behavior therapy, sharing insight from their infinite experiences of life, these very grandmas have helped 30,000 patients to get rid of depression and suicidal thoughts last year. Till they leave for green pasture above, they will continue to create greener pastures for people with mental and other disorders. Dr. Chibanda has a vision of spreading his experiment globally and we wish him every success!
Azim N. Khamisa & Ples Felix
It is hard to lose a child, and even harder to even think of forgiving the person who took his life. But Mr. Khamisa did just that. Not only is he fighting to have Tony released from prison, but Tony’s grandpa, Ples Felix is assisting him in the Tariq Khamisa Foundation too. Both are God fearing men, they realized each other’s pain and decided to stand together to bring about a positive change in the society. Azim Khamisa lost his young son, Tariq who was shot dead by 14 year old, Tony. A devout Sufi Muslim, he gained a vision during his meditation. Being an American, he felt that he was responsible for his son’s death too. No child is born violent. If they can learn to be violent, the society can also teach them non-violence, empathy, compassion, forgiveness, peace and gratitude. Nine months after his son’s death, he launched the Tariq Khamisa foundation. This foundation aims to draw the kids away from violence and save kids’ lives by teaching them the right choices.
The Queen of Creole cuisine is a chef, author and TV personality. She was the highlight of the last session. Leah Chase is a dynamic woman. Age does not hold her back from doing anything. Even at 94, she still cooks in her kitchen at Dooky Chase. And she says she will continue to cook till she is alive. Her words of wisdom for the women of today are worth paying heed to. She is so apt when she says one should never look down upon one’s man. And then, she goes on to say that the men should do their part, the women can take care of the rest. Her association with the people from Roosevelt era to the people of today is exemplary. I feel every one should listen to her talk and try and soak in what little you can. It will make a lot of difference to the world of today. So long as you are alive, be on the move.
These are just a few of the great speakers, whose talks I had the privilege of watching. My objective will be achieved if you could watch these. I will keep on sharing as I translate more of these wonderful talks into Hindi.