- 14 Oct 2021
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, most of us have been struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance. The pandemic has taken a serious toll on our mental well-being, and often unknowingly, we look for bits of motivation throughout the day to keep going. It’s true that we have our own ways to heal and manage our responsibilities, and there is no comparison between how people choose to cope during challenging times like these. But there are countless people who go out of their way to not only care for their families and loved ones but also for communities that are often overlooked, and their stories deserve to be shared. Meet Soniya Rohra, one such woman/hero who has been setting an example for many by giving her time to society while working as a full-time operations manager at iResearch Services.
Born and raised in Pune city, Soniya finds ways to engage with social work while managing her nine-to-five. She’s passionate about giving back to society and volunteers with two foundations in the city. “An urge to do something better, serve people and spread love and kindness drove me towards social work. I love the feeling of making a small difference and bringing a smile to someone in need.” When inculcated in young minds, the scope of a brighter, kinder future reflects in one’s actions, and rightly, Soniya mentions her source of inspiration: “I guess primary school teaches all of us basic values like sharing. It all started there, and I have been lucky enough to be reminded now and then to share whatever we have (no matter how much we have) with those in real need.”
We often set aside weekends for personal time, or to pursue activities that relax and reset the mind. For Soniya, and countless others like her, social work is the outlet. It brings them joy, adds meaning to their lives and is something they look forward to at the end of every week. “I have full week to dedicate to my corporate job and on weekends, I dedicate a couple hours to social work, alternate weekends to manage my personal life. I am quite blessed to work with an organization that encourages their employees to be part of volunteering activities.”, she further adds.
One of the biggest challenges/barriers that stop most people from engaging with social service is ‘what’s in it for me?’ You may feel the same when considering to sign-up with an NGO. To that, Soniya beautifully adds, “To volunteer or engage with social work, it does not start or stop with fancy donations and getting benefits for tax. It is the time that you spend for the real purpose that matters.” What’s inspiring is Soniya’s enthusiasm to involve as many people as she can to volunteer alongside her. Be it her partner or close friends, she invites them to experience a couple hours of social work and that’s where the magic happens. “To inspire and encourage people around, one need not boast or talk about their experiences. I simply involve them directly or indirectly and take them along, which inclines them to do more on their own next time. Once I asked my partner to accompany me for a drive when I was volunteering, and that spiked his interest in giving back. Now he’s always excited when we volunteer together and looks for ways to contribute. The same has happened with a couple of close friends who have accompanied me once and are now contributing more than I could have imagined.”
As simple as it sounds, social work is one tedious, selfless task that can be rewarding in so many ways. It pays off because at the end of it all, you know that your actions have positively influenced someone’s life. Overall, there’s a lot that you can learn, and these instances often inspire you to introspect, and look at life with new meaning. Here’s one such instance that Soniya recollects as a happy moment: “I recently visited the outskirts of Pune to distribute grocery kits to women who lost their partners due to Covid, men who were the sole bread earners of the families. In such despairing times, the courage of those women, hope and optimism towards life was truly overwhelming. These women were in the quest for answers that time will eventually unfold for them, but what is important is the spark to not give up, and words cannot describe the beauty of that experience. Engagements like these always give me strength and make me think whether our daily problems are big enough to occupy our minds and lives.” She further adds, “How we feel towards others tells us more about ourselves, so without thinking what we will gain in return, it is important to spread kindness and love. That’s what the world needs right now. I will continue to spend my alternate weekends to serve the society on various fronts. Children and women will be the priorities as they are the future of our world.”
We believe that social work is one of the most righteous, selfless acts of humanity. If you can look out for people who are in distress and simply lend them a helping hand, then that is one of your greatest contributions towards society. It’s not something that has hidden meanings or agendas to it. To conclude, she has a piece of advice for the youth, “Just keep doing your thing. Not for attention, admiration, or validation. But because it fuels you, because it nourishes you, because it serves you. And remember to be kind, it is always trending in the heart. You don’t have to do big things in social work. Start small, look around and you will find someone who needs kindness.”
Soniya is grateful to her parents and her partner, who have always trusted her decisions and supported her throughout. She is also grateful for all things in her life, along with the realization that life is filled with little things to be grateful for. Giving for Good Foundation looks up to amazing people like Soniya Rohra, who go out of their way to simply spread love. We hope her story inspires countless others to do their bit for all the right reasons. Always remember the purpose and keep going.
Sakshi dreams of writing a gripping murder mystery – unless she’s creating content and building the Giving for Good brand. She’s a tennis player, a swimmer, a crime fiction enthusiast, and a twenty-something-year-old who enjoys volunteer work.