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Meet Ruhi a.k.a. Rohini Hak of Hope B~Lit (Under Bayfield Foundation Inc.)

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ruhi a.k.a. Rohini Hak.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Ruhi. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
It’s so fascinating to look back at one’s journey and try and connect the dots to how you got to where you are standing today… Intrigued was I, to see that most of it could in no sense of the word be part of anything “planned”… seemed more like a bizarre tale of many leaps of faith taken totally contradicting any sense of worldly practical behavior.

One thing is certain, I cannot be put in a boxed definition of who I am based on my career, an Engineer, a founder of a non profit for kids, A writer, a musician, and composer, who am I… in the end, I feel is defined by my karmic actions in all these capacities. I love stories… it is the stories that we tell each other of our truths that create the connections, we then so cherish and learn from… our friends, our family, our colleagues, & all others that we cross in this life’s path.

Life, when I reflect, is really a vivid tale, I can play in my head with these chapters that have such relevant and prominent characters who amuse me, lift me up, break me down, hand tears or laughter, but always, in the end, teach me so much in every instance.

Without these people who crossed my path… it would be so incomplete, I realize every instant, every moment as if an Epiphany. I grew up in India and feel very grateful to have traveled across the country during my childhood and then the globe working in varied industries in technological and management capacities. My dad was in the armed forces, so we were very comfortable, but this job meant we would have to pack up and leave from cities and schools within the gap of a couple of years.

Travel, new cities, new schools, new people were the constant in this lifestyle. This, I feel enhanced my skill to meet new people and adapt to new environments. Somehow, this fact in a way enables you to be yourself from day one when you meet someone as there is no REAL.” Get to know your time” that exists. My heart then learned to build bonds… deeper based on a quality of time instead of quantity.

My parents & sister were and are my pillars in this journey and my core for all the real-life learning and my teachers, friends and fellow students the add on’s to my perspective as well. I was severely teased/bullied for my name and nickname irrespective of the changes in schools & cities somehow till about 5th grade it persisted and to add to the misery I really felt something must be wrong with me for sure if different kids would bully me in different cities.

We associate ourselves so much with our names that when that’s the cause of your misery, your essence seems somehow threatened, as your sense of identity than in those growing years is being made fun of consistently. The unconditional and consistent support of my parents and my sister who I would follow literally everywhere in school made me feel safe. But now and then, I would lash out by beating up bullies or causing trouble by breaking things or hiding in places to cry and vent and jumping out of closed detention room windows to try and express my pain.

We as a family would serve a lot, from simple things like taking care of cousins who stayed over for education, to feeding homeless people over weekends or taking care of stray animals. I found this very healing. My mother, Saroj, with her selfless giving to all taught me to put all walls of bias down and also instilled the love of music in this phase which helped me cope as well and heal and come out of the bullying situation via service initiatives, songs, and music.

As I slowly overcame my fears, it became my purpose to want to grow up and try and defend & serve as many kids across the globe as I could so no one had to go through questioning themselves of having any value to their existence except ending up as the center of ridicule. Right from my final years of school and college, my friends and I had already started assisting random homeless people and cleaning and placing them in different shelters.

Destiny decided to make me stubborn about going to Australia against my parents wishes to do my MBA alone away from being in this constant protected environment. That was a struggle that taught me empathy in the real sense. In this period, I even had to experience being left with my bags on a bench for a week rendered homeless. As someone who was to pick me up got the dates wrong. That week taught me how different people look at you and form so many different opinions based on their perspectives.

I met some of the most interesting and kind people and also some of the most judgmental people with their harsh views. But wouldn’t trade that experience, a crash course for this protected girl in how to survive alone and also was the first time, I tasted Thai Food given to me every day almost by this food truck guy who was so kind. Until we touch the depths of our shadow and truly merge with it, we cannot see the brightness of our own light… to be free—immortal from the chains of our own predispositions, expectations, and scrutinization…

I guess there are a time and a place for the individuation process to occur—it all comes together when we go deeper into the realms of our self. Fear totally left me after that week and instilled in me even stronger than the Universe protects us. I did multiple jobs and left with a degree and money in my hand. Still remember the days standing by the vending machine and not being able to buy a bag of chips, after being spoilt all your life, it’s a profound learning experience.

I would wake up to the sound of train doors closing even once I was back home in India as I had spent so much time without sleep, studying and between multiple jobs on trains. Still don’t know why I did it and did not just come home back to comforts but am glad I did. Must be my karmic destiny but it made me who I am today. Whenever faced with problems even today, I put myself right back at that bench, reminding myself that I am a survivor.

Makes me feel a little stronger, a little more hopeful, and completely trusting that all happens for the best always. When I moved to the US, my yearning to serve & work with children began the vision of Hope B~lit to serve and protect all children and women that crossed our path via innovative educational tools, holistic healthcare services & social media awareness films. We are so very grateful to Bayfield Foundation Inc, because of the trust of my mentor, friend and guide Dr. Bill Bailey, became our fiscal sponsors and supported us and adopted our vision to create awareness, educate & serve children and women globally with all our tools.

We started from the walks in the corridors of hospitals visiting children and knocking on doors of various schools wanting to volunteer with kids and the efforts have since then reached various continents. From being turned down as I was not a certified teacher to not giving up and getting a certification in human values and education to building credibility enough for us being eventually invited at UTLA for their teacher’s conferences was nothing short of a divine conspiracy.

We have today covered multiple villages and expanded our reach to continents like Asia, Africa, North America, etc. and added volunteers to support it’s on the ground initiatives. Somehow my family, friends, the children I work with have taught me that when it comes to doing something altruistic all limits are imaginary & boundaries don’t exist… and this belief has led me to leap in various aspects of my life into journeys not planned or thought through too much but taken because they felt like the right thing to do.

In this journey which has been like a roller coaster ride, full of fun, danger, excitement, elation, up and down and so filled with tears of sadness and joy. One constant remain, I learn from it all & it’s never a loss. Read this somewhere and it stayed with me… that in the book of life one can’t skip chapters, you have to read every line, meet every character, some chapters will make us cry for weeks, some chapters you wish would never end… but one has to keep going. As stories really keep the world revolving & we all need to not lose out on living our story…

Every day, I am trying to live mine…

-IT Telecom Infrastructure Engineer on VOIP system’s, Rapiscan Systems, OSI Systems Inc.
-Master’s Degree in Business Administration, the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia.
-Certified in Education in Human Values from ISSE-USA at UCSB {Santa Barbara}.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Imagine if there were a life navigation system based on Global Positioning that helped us avoid all of life’s many obstacles and only hit smooth roads without roadblocks. Would be a fascinating trip but not sure if it would be a profound learning experience overall. There have been several U-turns, unpaved roads with bumpy rides and forks to make a decision on which way to go, as these then become our life choices.

The struggles have been many, starting with the most important one, the struggle within. Having to overcome my own fears and ghosts. To reach the feeling when one lets go of the corpses and burdens carried for a long times feels incredible.. like finding one’s own sweet space wherein just being who one truly is… enraptured in their true resonance with one’s true nature and all else around them.

It’s also intriguing how your biggest strength of being emotional can also be your biggest weakness. That is what drives my passion to serve but also brings me down & crushes me when hurt by the inhumane, contradictory, selfish and aggressive behavior in a world that thinks competing is the way and we struggle to convince of our belief that Collaboration is the key.

Obstacles come in many shapes and forms, as people who pretend to be interested in helping you for the cause and then decided to hurt you instead or organizations that offer to help and then their real motives show no synergy to our work which focused on working altruistically with women and kids and helping beyond self.

Other basic issues at camps in remote locations of logistics and access, timely availability of goods and supplies for kids, volunteers, raising funds to make it all happen or raising awareness of why is it important to maybe give time and support things that may not benefit you directly.

A friend of mine in her farewell from Los Angeles shared this with me… she said you know Ruhi when I sing as I am a little nervous, and some musicians might give me the look if I miss a key or note… but when I watch you nod your head in bliss and play that tambourine, your nod seems to help me sing and feel confident that I am singing fine.

It touched me so much as I was totally unaware, also I realized that how we all must always keep encouraging others on… as we never know how our nods unknowingly… might help someone go on. Many such people have come in my life as well, especially when I have been ready to give up they have kept me going.

I am extremely thankful & grateful to the team & our patrons that stand by the vision and withstand it all and give their time night and day despite having regular full-time jobs so that we face these hardships and maybe get to save some children or women from facing it somewhere in the world.

All these obstacles we face have always left our HOPE B~Lit team with one all-encompassing global message every time as long as our intentions are altruistic and true we shall overcome whatever is thrown at us and prevail.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Hope B~Lit (Under Bayfield Foundation Inc.) – what should we know?
Hope B~Lit (Holistic Opportunities and Purpose Of Education Be Lit), is a volunteer-driven LA-based 501 (c) non-profit under Bayfield Foundation Inc., championing Children & Women’s causes across the globe. Under the guidance of Dr. Bill Bailey, Bayfield Foundation, we hope to touch lives & spread, in essence, the true meaning of the word HOPE with on the ground initiatives.

Across borders and cultures, the common aspect is obvious as to how we all relate so much better with each other if dealt with compassion and care and collaboration instead of competition. The need for Values in our everyday life and the lack of it being taught in the regular curriculum is something that is coming to light more and more in the current world.

With the advent of technological advancements in leaps and bounds, we have somehow left the aspect of our learning of our basic essence of humanness behind. Thus, began our journey with an aim to provide a comprehensive platform for children to nourish their inherent human values via value-based workshops and improve their quality of life.

HOPE B~ LIT envisions to create a peaceful, purposeful and loving world by nurturing the values of love, peace, truth, non-violence, and righteousness which are present at the core of our being. Due to various life circumstances, these values are subdued in children & we create awareness and enhance the presence of these values through conducting workshops.

With over ten years of experience designing initiatives globally in the areas of education, human values, healthcare, and environment conservation, HOPE B~Lit is completely driven by volunteers made up of young working professionals and students. We are set apart from most non-profits as 100% of funding received is applied to the organization’s projects & our three diverse wings stand together globally with a common focus for the betterment of women and children.

Additionally, through HOPE BEYOND BORDERS program, HOPE B~Lit has managed to provide holistic care with social workshops, cultural exchange, water tanks, water filters, sanitary provisions, and complete oral care for over 10,000 children and sustainable water for three years for over 150 families in various continents like Asia, Africa and North America.

Through their efforts, the team has assisted over 10,000 children in remote areas of Uganda, Los Angeles, USA and villages in rural India. Our focus on providing holistic care for Children and Women globally has led to building three diverse wings with the niche focus of the vision:

Education Wing: We have been invited to UTLA the largest teachers union in the USA to conduct workshops for teachers consistently to incorporate our workshop components into their teaching methods. We have done several successful programs with Title 1 Schools and assisted in programs run by the Sheriff’s department. Our programs have been supported by other educational partners like Tarsadia Foundation, UTLA, Sridhar Ranganathan from AIC and we have successfully conducted over 500 workshops in distinct parts of the world.

Recently, we have partnered with local Los Angeles schools to assist in services under the STEAM program for children in Los Angeles.

Oral Wing: Wish Upon a Smile: We have conducted oral education and oral treatment camps and served over several villages in Asia and Africa under the astute guidance of our Oral board advisor Dr. Rainy Surana. Our global holistic initiatives are usually closely coordinated by Nikita Limbu, a pathologist from UK. We are excited about our upcoming efforts in December at Guadalajara, Mexico with a camp for children to provide oral education, provide oral and sanitary supplies, educate children on nutrition, food choices and also hoping to screen at a private event, Hope B~Lit { Voices Unheard} short film on nutrition called Got Cancer!

The film is written by me , directed by Kankana Chakraborty, Cinematography by Mridul Sen and screen writing by our Voices Unheard screenwriter Elizabeth Soto-Lara. The film is a docu-drama independently produced by HOPE B~Lit and made in collaboration with “YOUWECAN” Foundation founded by Yuvraj Singh & CEO Shazmeen Kara, in India. The film aims to support children with cancer and to present how nutrition, love and care of family and friends and a positive outlook on life are essential elements in healing in addition to other medical treatments and can mean the difference between life and death. We are very thankful to Shazmeen Kara who was a huge help in giving us access to true stories in India from the St Jude Child Care Center in Mumbai.

We have been supported by ICD{International College of Dentists}, PDT Dental USA, Henry Schein USA & UK, Colgate, Sunstar Americas, the makers of GUM Brand, who are our consistent partners assisting us in our global oral treatment and education efforts.

Voices Unheard Wing: We have recently launched a media wing ‘Voices Unheard’ to take dynamic action and create awareness on important issues and causes for women and children.

We aim to present stories on current relevant issues through short documentaries or long feature formats. We formed a young support team with Dhriti Borah as a board advisor and Elizabeth Soto-Lara as a screenwriter to support our cause.

We have two films under production, a short film project to support children with cancer, written by me, directed by Kankana Chakraborty and Seatbelt, a short animation and reality mix film on children’s view on a judgment in society, directed & edited by Sukrut Teni. Also are excited about our film in preliminary stages ” Silenced” to be directed by Dhriti Borah on the trauma of abuse by close family members and how tough the society makes it for the kids to express the truth to family and friends. We have also recently associated with Dhriti Borah’s film Snakes and Ladders – An Epiphany, that is winning a lot of awards globally for its profound message of Hope and Love that children bring to our lives.

We associated with certain socially relevant short films like, “Doors of Mercy”, screened at the Cannes film festival 2018. Directed by Abdallah El Daly, “Doors of Mercy” captures the plight of thousands of Egyptian children who are born out of wedlock and denied access to basic human rights, including education, health care and the right to vote.

The film highlights their struggle and seeks to obliterate the very notion of illegitimacy. The crew was a global team that poured their hearts and souls into this beautiful short film. Egyptian Director – Abdallah El Daly, Indian Cinematographer – Mridul Sen, & French Co-writer – Anna Kriegel. The film was supported by Executive producers Motaz Ezzat ElBahaey, Srinivas Devarakonda, & Hamza Sabri.

Another profound association we made is with a film, directed & produced by Kankana Chakraborty, a young director, who created this impactful film with minimal “WOMEN PRAYED AND PREYED UPON.” The documentary focuses on various kinds of violence a woman faces. We are proud to associate with this amazingly touching film that focuses attention on issues pertaining to women. One person at a time can make a big change in the world. Through this Docudrama, Kankana Chakraborty wanted to do her bit like a woman. Produced under the banner of Kindle productions, the short film has received National and International recognition. It’s nominated at the WORLD PEACE AWARDS- United Nation – Indonesia, Sep 2018. We have several other films we are in the process of associating with as well.

Our next venture is “Hope Council”. It is a global body that will have esteemed members from the media industry on board. Strong women globally with true stories of courage for example like Isabella Hoffman, Insia Dariwala, Tess Cacciatore, Keely Cat Wells, Ashley Obregon are some who we look at being part of this vision, Members will collaborate to make socially relevant films/documentaries on causes that impact women and children.

A governing council will be overseeing their efforts. The funds for the same will be generated through donations and grants. We have seen the impact of a community coming together to defend the causes that make a difference to them & the future generations and we want the movies that we support to be aligned with that vision. Collaboration not Competition will be the governing essence of this effort in a volatile aggressive field of media. We hope to gain additional support from grantmakers that align with this vision.

Finally, our journey could not have been possible without the undying support of our numerous volunteers across the Globe. A special mention for our communications director Priyanka Banerjee who led us through this year effectively maintaining our branding and mission in all wings. Support from our Board members Kushal Seth, Aparna Bhaskara in managing the creative & digital global face & vision of HOPE B~Lit via Logo/Brochure/Design & advise on functional aspects, Arpita Vats for website management, PR Manager, Pradnya Dike and Treasurer & Advisor, Sherry Vallabh has been essential for our growth this year.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Every person that crosses our paths irrespective of the experience, good or bad, always teaches, gives and leaves us with a learning.

The Bullies, the friends , the teacher, the Guru, parents, sister, colleagues, patrons, the antagonists and the protagonists, the children we serve, every character in this life story was a mentor, a guide, a catalyst of change… giving direction and carving the path to where I am today personally and professionally and also where Hope B~Lit stands.

My parent’s Brig Ashok & Saroj Hak and sister, Shalini, are my biggest supporters and strength. The many friends & patrons, forgive me as very tough to name all of them here, without who enabled me and stood by me all through my visions which mostly made no practical sense.

My profound sense that the universe will protect if the intentions are altruistic comes from my Guru, Sai, The friends, patrons & businesses that support us make a huge difference as without people rooting for what you do one cannot achieve or be strong to face the curve balls that life throws at us. The HOPE B~Lit core team has always stood by the vision. Some of the supporters, companies, and team of HOPE have been mentioned in the previous section of who we are as HOPE B~lit.

Some other patrons, mentors and friends of HOPE and me that come to mind are Dr Bill Bailey, Hymon Johnson from UCSB,Barkha Madan, Shirish Dayal from Tarsadia Foundation, Aakansha Maheshwari from Bollypop, Manju Dutta from MJD Travels, Manoj Kaytee, Mona Shaikh from Minority Reportz, Shweta Sanjeev, Prithvee Rajan, Nikita Limbu, Sam Sridhar Ranganathan from AIC, Monica Aima, Srini Rajan from Urban Media,Chitra Chakraborty, Rajasree Parthasarathy, Monisha Kanoth, Ella Auger, Neeru Gera,Yuvika Aima, Manisha Sharma ,Mary Jivani, Percy Presswala from CRY, Taroon & Mala Ahooja, Qusro Patel, Niti Madhok, Pradnya Mohite, Abishek Dasari, Kavita Narayanswami, Divya Desai, Sarina Meyers, Laura Vasquez, Sudheer Kota from Rhythm &Melodies,Tim Earl, Gity Bolton, Sumeeta & Marylin Gurbani Sethi, Nat from Sony, Aditi Mansukhani, Gurdeep Grewal, Bernah Namutebi, Heather Zammit, my support team from Rapiscan Systems Inc. & so many more close supporters that stand by me and US at HOPE B~Lit and hold our hands to be enable us to help many more kids and women across the Globe.

Without the people named above and many more that I may have forgotten to mention and the businesses that stand by non-profits and think & give beyond themselves, there is no work in the world that can be accomplished. I urge people to stand by true causes and support them as each candle we light helps eradicate the darkness somewhere for someone.

I am indebted, thankful & immensely grateful to all the teachers that crossed my path in different roles be it a school teacher, a friend, an acquaintance, a child… they all were the reason I was inspired to dream of HOPE B~ LIT {Holistic Opportunities and Purpose Of Education Be Lit}.

Pricing:

  • Call to action is project based currently working on a short film that will raise awareness to assist in helping kids globally fight cancer via the right nutrition. Looking at nutrition companies to partner to help globally in this effort. Budget : $15000

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Anurag Bhargava, Srini Raja, Urban Media LA

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