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  who's who >> Swati Mukherjee >> Vatsalya


Life is not worth living without an impossible dream goes an adage.

Very few of us dare to dream, and even fewer possess the guts to convert dreams into reality.

Among the few, only those who have the determination and the will to put in a Herculean effort can realise the dream of bettering the lives of downtrodden.

Swati Mukherjee, executive director of Vatsalya, a NGO initiated as the field action project of College of Social Work, Nirmala Niketan, has been dreaming and doing the same for long. In fact, since 1982.

This psychology graduate from Ruia College has charted many a success story of Mumbai’s street children who otherwise would have been left to the mercy of cruel elements.

Vatsalya was set up primarily to understand and analyse the social, economic, physical and emotional needs of street children.

And though she revels in her role of a crusader, she has had a bittersweet experience in her endeavour.

She recalls: “Sameer (name changed) was a runaway who landed up on the streets of Mumbai.

"Weary of life on the roadside, he met a volunteer and succumbed to the charms of a settled life. In the peace of shelter he discovered a talent for art and he was so good that he began to teach other children.”

On another occasion, she received a call from a municipal hospital to reach there as one of our child who was suffering from Cancer was very serious.

The next day, the child died which left her devastated.

These daily trysts with the moods of life have taught her to be calm even under the severest of stress and never to lose hope.

What Mumbai means to her:

That Mumbai is where she belongs is quite evident. She says, “If I am away from Mumbai for more than 15 days I get home sick.

"The vibrancy and never-say-die attitude of the city elicits special praise form her. This city simply refuses to sleep.”

Besides, Mumbai has made her what she is today.

"The city has made me what I am today with the professional expertise, contacts, assertiveness and the boldness in personality I possess."

Personal experience:

The exposure to different arts has been a learning experience.

It has been great interacting with legends, renowned filmmakers, performing artists, all of who quietly do something for the society not only with their art, but also charity. It is only possible in Mumbai.

Contribution to the city:

I guess my mission is to support the deprived, believe and have faith in them. Unless we do something for the city, the city will not give anything back.