Inspiring Women Role Models

May there be other Kariko, Marwaai and Karwa to inspire men and women to be resilient and never give up their dreams

By Nita Chicooree-Mercier

Right now, the world is full of sound and fury, the international arena is a battlefield of rival world powers vying for influence and space, Mother Earth is overburdened and exhausted from pressures on her capacity to house and feed everyone. Earthquakes take thousands of lives within a few minutes, fires run wild like hell, floods unleash unbelievable volumes of water while scorched land runs dry from severe droughts, and cracks in African lands show signs of splitting the continent in two and likely to drift apart in the ocean.

Indonesia has taken care to build another capital outside the mainland since Jakarta has been sinking for years. Tiny Maldives is threatening to oust Indian military presence from its soil in a muscle-flexing bid no matter when the island is going to disappear in the Indian Ocean, and part of Mumbai may yield to the raging waters of the Arabian Sea in years to come. To top it all, medical experts are raising warnings of a deadlier virus than Covid-19 and are gearing up to counter Disease X.

Move on with our business as usual and look for stability in an unstable world and positive news around the world.

The Nobel Prize in medicine goes to Katalin Koriko and Drew Weissman for their work in enabling the development of mRNA vaccine at the University of Pennsylvania. They did their best to come out with a vaccine not for money and award but for interest in science and out of curiosity to break frontiers on the path of progress. The US remains the best place for bright and ambitious people to carry out research and further progress in key fields of technology and science. This is what Koriko from Hungary did. It is more than one century now that the United States smartly set itself the mission to draw the best brains from around the world and realized all the benefits and prestige it can reap from the tremendous progress that has been achieved on its territory. The launching and landing of space shuttle Perseverance was supervised by a woman scientist of Indian origin a few years back in the US.

Yoga became a tool to beat cancer for Saudi Arabia’s Nouf Marwaai. Pic – Al  Arabiya

How a book can change the life of a person and bring about changes in society is the glaring example of Nouf Marwaai. She is the first Saudi Yoga Acharya in Saudi Arabia. She was afflicted with lupus disease since childhood and had to drop out of high school. Her father, an official in a Saudi ministry, came back from a trip abroad with a book on yoga. The book sparked off a deep curiosity in yoga, and Nouf Marwaai started practising the asanas in 1998. She went to India to study yoga and its philosophy.

Yoga changed her life and her health completely. She graduated in clinical psychology in Saudi Arabia and managed to use both disciplines in her endeavour to share her experience with fellow compatriots. Nouf Marwaai approached the authorities to gain recognition for the teaching of yoga, and she created the first Arab Foundation of Yoga in her country after people started coming up to her for yoga classes. 

In 2014 she developed breast cancer, avoided chemotherapy, and went to India to have the tumor removed. She raises awareness on the benefits of Pranayama. Till now the number of practitioners has shot up to 10,000 and she has trained 700 yoga teachers all over the kingdom, in Ryad, Jeddah and Mecca.

What a feat! Just imagine what changes she is bringing to her country. No wonder she received the Padma Shree Award from the Indian government recently and is invited at events in Delhi. Note that the Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman introduced the teachings of Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita, Ayurveda and Yoga in the education system in the kingdom four years ago. Serenity and peace emanate from Nouf Marwaai’s speech in fluent English with an unmistakable clarity of thought.

Who is Maleesha Karwa? A girl straight from Slumdog Millionnaire, you would first think. Indeed, she is from Dharavi slum where she lived in a hut with her parents and siblings. She has a from-rags-to-riches story. Far from being a product of ‘Fair and Lovely’, Maleesha has brown skin, fine features as those of apsaras featured on temples’ façades and is endowed with gorgeous beauty. Who discovered that she is stunningly beautiful? Of course, she knew it from childhood and dreamt of becoming a model at the age of five. No Indian put her in the limelight.

Mainstream Indian society does not find beauty in brown skin, we all know the colour and caste biases. American actor Robert Hoffman was struck by her beauty when she was nine and had her play in a clip which went viral. Since then, the sky is the limit for Maleesha. An Indian modelling agency approached her and now she is on every cover of fashion magazines and has become the face of luxury brand ‘Forest Essentials’ at the age of 14.

Let’s hope that she does not step in Bollywood and meet the fate of Suswant Sing Rajput, a promising outsider to the mafia reigning there for decades. She consults her parents for their approval, the parents consult the grandparents, and Maleesha has her way on condition that education is a key factor for her way out, and she has to stick to it.

At 14, her English is fluent and clear, and she has a most beautiful smile when she speaks with such authenticity, innocence, and warmth. How her English contrasts sharply with what we hear from the awful pronunciation and accent of some Indian TV anchors, who look more like Spaniards and Portuguese than Indians, is mind-boggling. Dream big and aim high is Maleesha’s motto. What a girl!

May there be other Kariko, Marwaai and Karwa to inspire men and women to be resilient and never give up their dreams.

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 13 October 2023

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