Roopa Mouli - The multi-faceted Indian woman

Founder of Sahaya Hastha which works towards cervical health care in rural India and the winner of Mrs Global international (classic), Roopa Mouli is today’s multi-faceted Indian woman.

Roopa Mouli is the founder of the charity organisation Sahaya Hastha – The Helping Hand in Bangalore, which works towards the comprehensive care of cervical health among rural women in India. The focus is to help prevent cervical cancer through awareness and screening of rural women through door-to-door campaigns and pap smear tests conducted at camps at the village level, followed by aftercare and treatment.

Roopa Mouli was honoured in 2016 by Cancer Care India at Dodaballapur Taluk for her contribution in promoting cervical health. She was also felicitated with the Achievers Award at the Mrs and Miss Karnataka pageant for her contribution to the community in 2016.

She along with Fog Fashion Studio is bringing about a coffee table book called Transform which will celebrate cancer survivors. The book will showcase the cancer fighters in a glamorous way, a way we generally don’t visualise them.

Roopa is also the state coordinator for Uthhan, a non-profit organisation working towards unifying financially weaker skilled artisans and providing an online platform for their products. She also worked for the State government for two years under the DANIDA Project. She has also won Mrs India United Nation (classic) & Mrs Global international (classic)at the world pageant in Moscow.

1) Breaking the stereotypes  – A philanthropist, international beauty pageant winner and an entrepreneur, how did all that come about?

Roopa: As a child, I was never discriminated for being born a girl. We were allowed to take our own decisions and be responsible for our decisions. Being independent was a way of life.

We were always taught to be kind to people, especially to the people who work for us, our domestic help, etc. We were taught to treat and address people who work for us with respect always and this sense of love and respect for people has come a long way today in developing my personality.

And today, whatever work I do I wouldn’t like to call it philanthropic work. It’s what every individual as a human is supposed to do. We are fortunate enough to be in a position to help people and we should. I only pray to God help me help more people.

I believe that every woman should be financially independent and work towards it. So today, if I am an entrepreneur, a philanthropist as you call it then I think these were the things that were me and things that could not be anything else.

This was my identity. The pageant just happened as a way of destiny. There was nothing pre-planned about it. But once I decided, it was a lot of hard work and dedication that I put in. Finally, it’s discipline in life that can take you places

2) You have travelled all over the world. What does travel mean to you & how has it impacted you as a person?

R: My favourite destination would be Masaimara. The Big Cats diary fuelled my interest to visit Masaimara, the Kenyan flagship conservatory area.

Even today, I remember the drive through the vast rolling Savannah grasslands. The breathtaking view of the plains, the swaying Acacia trees and my first spotting of the Rothschild giraffes. The Toyota Land cruiser with pop up roofs that gave us good gaming view.

The first big cat we spotted was a leopard. It was preying on a gazelle and then after the kill, the massive cat climbed a tree and ravaging on it away from our prying eyes. As it was October, we got to witness the last leg of migration, the sheer number of wild animals was staggering!

The unique highlight for me was the Masai cultural experience – a day in the life of a Masai, the ancient tribe that has survived in this land for generations. Their small mud huts plastered with cow dung and thatched with grass. Their red shuka robes draped over their shoulder, I got to wear one too. The mesmerising Masai tribal dance, jumping high up in the air. All in all, Masaimara proved to be a fascinating experience.

What does travel mean to me? To travel means you have the wings to fly.

3) What is your typical travel MO? (Impulsive, solo, adventure, exploratory, packaged tours…. )

R: Having said that, I cannot travel alone. You need two wings to fly! I cannot travel solo, I would like to have someone share and live my experiences along with me.

4) Few of your favourite travel destinations and what fascinates you about these. Tell us one of your ‘Discover the real’ moments. (A unique indigenous lesser known experience that you discovered)

R: My recent travel to Moscow. It was a journey that I was treading at an age where most people wouldn’t really dare. Something very much out of my comfort zone. I participated in the Mrs Global International pageant at Moscow, Russia in the Classic category (45+ category).

Moscow is a place for the beautiful. Tall beautiful women and men, impeccably dressed, and yes they do love Indians. So it’s ironical that it was the host city for the pageant.

What struck me was the deep sense of respect they had for their language. You don’t see them talking in any other language other than Russian which to me as a tourist was quite annoying at times. We even had a bomb scare at the hotel where we stayed. We had to evacuate the hotel and the only alert we understood was the emergency siren. Even the evacuation alert voice message through the speakers was in Russian.

Until we ran down 23 floors, we didn’t know why the emergency siren sounded. We knew there was an emergency but what it was wasn’t known, thanks to their obsession with their language. There wasn’t a single staff who could speak English or any other language. Harrowing though it was, it left me wondering as to how accommodative we are in Karnataka. We tend to put our local language Kannada in the back seat and are driven by all other languages.

5) What does being a woman mean to you?

R: The confidence you have in yourself is very important. If you have a plan, follow it up mercilessly. Be obsessive about it. It’s not where you reach, but the journey, the learning is what matters.

6) Challenges you face as a woman focusing on impacting change in India and about overcoming them.

R: I am a very peace-loving woman. I cannot handle drama and will shy away from people exuding negativity. I have occasionally seen that women who lead and are in positions of authority face resistance, surprisingly from both genders. I have been lucky that I have always had wonderful men and women who support, encourage and appreciate me which has definitely helped.

I see another side of this where the women face quite a lot of struggles and challenges from within their family and outside, especially in the villages. I try and uplift their lives in my own way, through the work I do.

7) Your words of wisdom for today’s woman.

R: I always stand up for myself and I believe every woman should. If you don’t stand up for yourself, nobody else will.

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