CHANGE leaders do great things, and often that is all we know about them. Here we want to get a different glimpse of the personalities that constitute the development space. Every month we get one leader to answer our four quirky questions. This week we catch up with KIRAN MODI, the managing trustee of Udayan Care.
Udayan is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘Eternal Sunshine’. Udayan Care aims to bring sunshine into the lives of underserved sections of society that require intervention. Registered in 1994 as a Public Charitable Trust, Udayan Care works to empower vulnerable children, women and youth, in 14 cities across nine states of India.
Starting with the establishment of just one small family home (Ghar) for orphaned and abandoned children in Sant Nagar, Delhi in 1996, Udayan Care has spread its work for disadvantaged groups during the last 23 years by establishing more family homes, helping girls’ education and providing vocational training. To date, Udayan Care has nurtured over 15,000 young minds.
Small Change: Dogs, cats, or reptiles? And why? While you are at it, are you scared of lizards?
K.M: I am a complete cat person! But yes, I am very afraid of lizards. I have a huge Herpetophobia but I have been able to deal with my fear by believing that they are all God’s creations. I have found that a lot of children are very afraid of lizards, and I counsel them to accept the fear and overcome it through controlled exposure. We look at photographs of lizards together, read up as much about them and learn about them by watching nature documentaries on TV till a time comes when seeing them no longer bothers us.
Small Change: What are three things you would take with you on a 16-hour flight?
K.M: The first is my faith, my thinking and my belief in a world where all children are happy, healthy and loved and cared for by families.
There is an art to flying long hours… Douglas Adams in his Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy says that the knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. So I avoid throwing away my weight yet I love to carry my smile, especially with the attendants and co-passengers. I always carry a pen and a notebook to help me remember the connections I make during the 16 hours.
Small Change: What movie last made you tear up? If movies don’t make you cry, then which one had the most emotional impact?
K.M: Most of the Disney films move me where you can see death, loneliness and misery of children being separated from parents. Alice In Wonderland, Rapunzel, Dumbo’s mum, Belle’s dad in Beauty And The Beast, Pinocchio, Peter Pan and The Lost Boys and loads more have had a huge emotional impact in my way of thinking and working. Way back in the 1930s, Walt Disney bought a house for his parents when he was at the peak of his success. The bond between children and parents has never changed.
Small Change: Do you think humans have souls? If so, tell us more about what you think. If not, why?
K.M: Definitely! The principles, values and integrity that a person lives by define his soul. It is about the principles of living, the real feelings about the genuine thoughts, and the actions taken in the lifetime of a person that defines the soul. The soul is about what you do and achieve in life, about what you contribute and give back to society and what remains in your name after you return from the earthly journey called life.
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