Special interview : Meet the youngest Brand Ambassador for Rwanda in India

Neysa Sanghavi is a youth icon and an inspiration for millions of youths. Indrabhushan Mishra had discussed with Neysa about her challenges and difficulties in her journey so far.

1. It is a big achievement to reach this point at such a young age. When did you start your journey?

I began my journey when I went for a turtle conservation project to Costa Rica at the age of 15. I worked extremely long hours for 10 days to conserve hundreds of eggs laid sea turtles. I think at the age of 15 I had my calling, vision and courage to go alone, all the way to Costa Rica. Then, in 2016, I went to Rwanda after learning about Nigerian culture in my English class from the book “Things fall apart” Chinua Achebe. I learnt that people have misconceptions about African nations because earlier in history they couldn’t understand their cultural complexities and languages. After the movie “Hotel Rwanda” people think Rwanda is one of the most unsafe countries in Africa. However, I wanted to see it for myself. Media has perspective too. We can all be biased at some point. We are human. I wanted to tell the world my story of being to Rwanda.

2. What is your Family Background?

My father, Mr Parag Sanghavi is the CEO of H. Mangaldas and Company, a logistic company. My mother, Dr Sejal Sanghavi is a MD (Hom) and my younger sister Keya Sanghavi is currently a student Woodstock International Mussoorie.

3. How did you start this work And how did you get inspiration for this?

I went to Rwanda in 2016 after learning about Nigerian culture in my English class from the book “Things fall apart” Chinua Achebe. I learnt that people have misconceptions about African nations because earlier in history they couldn’t understand their cultural complexities and languages. After the movie “Hotel Rwanda” people think Rwanda is one of the most unsafe countries in Africa. However, I wanted to see it for myself.

In my first visit to Rwanda I visited ‘Avega Agahozo’ NGO run genocide survivors women. I came to know about bloodshed history of genocide in 1994 here which killed some 8 million people in mere 100 days leaving millions of women and children as orphen, also forcedly raped with HIV infected males.
Since then this tiny but beautiful country has progressed immensly under the able leadership of President Paul Kagame.
What touched and inspired me was Forgiving power of genocide survivors which is at the base of progress of this beautiful country. I felt immediate connection and became spokesman of the story of resilience of people here. I was invited to address business delegation and later Kwibuka event in Mumbai wherein my views and vision for Rwanda touched few dignitaries and rest is known.

4. Have you ever faced difficulties in this journey, if Yes, What were those challenges?

Media has perspective too. We can all be biased at some point. We are human. I wanted to tell the world my story of being to Rwanda. To be honest, I was really scared. At first, I thought that I’m just 16 years old, on top of that I’m an outsider. What is it that I possibly can offer to this nation’s people? But I realized that the one thing every person has a story to tell. Their story from their perspective. I gained my confidence when just my listening made them feel like at least someone cared enough to listen to our side. Another challenge that I’m facing today is balancing my efforts for Rwanda while studying in the United States. It is difficult but because of my friends and family’s support, I have been able to manage it until now.

5.  How do you see the relationship between Rwanda and India?
Our two nations, India and Rwanda have a lot to offer each other as we learn from each other and work together for the common good of mankind. I will continue to work unflaggingly towards deepening the economic and cultural bonds between the two places that I call home.

6. How do you see the work of the Government of India? What areas do you think the government needs to work in.

I think it is amazing to see our government place such importance to youth. The youth of India needs to be trusted and guided to create better world.

7. You want to work on education and health in rural areas. What kind of action plan do you have for this?
My main focus has been on drawing attention of people in the field of social work to communities that require healing, social entrepreneurship consulting, and medical attention. I also work with non-profits during my breaks: winter, fall, spring, and summer to work on mini-projects that create awareness and can be part of “lead example” model so that others who get inspired my initiatives can continue the work when I am not present. I strongly advocate for sustainable initiatives.

Neysa Sanghavi with Burundian refugee kids at the Nyanza camp run NGO Avega Agahozo
8. what are the career possibilities and scopes in social entrepreneurship for youths and women and how can they start?
I think a way to start would be to recognize what upsets you or angers you and then think of ways you can change that. Don’t be afraid to ask someone for help or guidance. Think of your whole community instead of just yourself while thinking of these potentials ways to change something that is incorrect, wrong, unequal or inefficient. And after you have identified what you want to work on, make a plan, start executing. Don’t wait until your plan is perfect. You will never reach perfection if that is what you aim for. Be holistic in your approach.

9. Skill gap is a major issue among large number of youth. They are not getting jobs, also lack of confidence for the entrepreneurship. How can they reduce these gaps.
One of the ways to reduce this gap would be through online education. There are sites such as udemy, coursera , skillshare, and code academy. You can pick a skill, get proficient in it, and build case studies. I would also advocate people to gain experience. However, I would to point out that this experience doesn’t have to be an internship or a paid part time job. It just needs to be something that can help you improve and further polish your skill. You can do this finding relevant volunteering opportunities in your communities.

10. What is your future goal?
Today, we live in a world that is extremely interdependent, but insufficient. It is unequal in its distribution of resources, unstable in its threats of terror like genocides, and unsustainable in forms of climate change and habitat destruction. And, in the midst of all this chaos, I think we have forgotten the true pursuit for happiness. I strongly believe that everyone on this Earth deserves a peaceful, complete, safe life. My passion resides in finding ways to bring healing to communities that have been through a traumatic or stressful experience. I understand that no single approach can work all every community, and so I usually spend months researching and gaining first interactions with members of the community to see how to best work with them. I want to use this vision of mine in the field on medicine, public policy, law and entrepreneurship. I am not sure what I want to be professional in future but I have a good idea of what kind of a person I want to be.

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Neysa Sanghavi is a youth icon and an inspiration for millions of youths. Indrabhushan Mishra had discussed with Neysa about her challenges and difficulties in her journey so far. 1. It is a big achievement to reach this point at such a young age. When did you start your journey? […]