All of us carry many stories within us – those passed down to us, those that happen to us, or to people that we know and these are the stories that need to be told and shared.
The Good Story Project came to us, as an idea, a desire, in the month of July 2020. We realised that we wanted to create a platform for stories big and small. Stories of ordinary people and everyday life. A safe space where interviews, personal narratives and features could be conducted with balance and empathy. In order to set the ball rolling, we started brainstorming for story ideas; not just themes that were relevant to us in the midst of the pandemic but also those that were pertinent before and will be so, much after the pandemic ends. We aim to share and open up this space with fellow writers who believe in telling stories in the spirit that we do.
A few days back, when Sapna Sharma, 57, walked into the office of DroneAcharya Aerial Innovations, a Pune-based drone services and pilot training startup, she felt like a child entering a school for the first time in life. This is Sharma’s very first job; her first baby steps into the professional world. Her workplace happens to be a start-up, a space that is dominated by the young. And yet, the organisation welcomed her on board. There’s a reason such stories need to be told. While we have women who have managed to break the glass ceiling, for many, career takes a backseat after marriage or children. Many choose to take a step back as responsibilities multiple or because they don’t get any help or support from families and many fail to open their innings. We need more workplaces like DroneAcharya that promote age diversity and give women of all ages a chance
As per the Indian Council of Medical Research’s September 2022 report, India is home to 77 million diabetics, the second highest in the world. Yet, the unfortunate truth is, we know very little about it. This, according to Jazz Sethi, 26, founder and director of The Diabesties Foundation, is because we tend to generalise diabetes. In this interview with The Good Story Project’s Swati Subhedar, Sethi, a Type 1 Diabetic (T1D), elaborates on how those living with diabetes, especially T1D, often struggle to deal with the endocrinological, physical, physiological, emotional, mental, psychological, and financial aspects that come along as package deal. We also touched upon a range of other topics, including the insulin monopoly, the need to educate individuals living with diabetes as well as their families and caregivers and provide them with multidimensional support, and the massive role organisations like hers are playing to fill in the gaps in our broken healthcare system until major policy level changes are implemented by the government.
In June 2020, amid the global pandemic, Kundan Mishra, who hails from a small village named Pupunki in Jharkhand, launched Custkart Merchandise with his savings. In just two years, his venture, which manufactures and sells customised t-shirts on bulk order, is clocking revenues to the tune of Rs 1.5-2 crore and has a pan-India clientele. What clicked? It was Mishra’s conviction and intention. He wanted to send across a message to the youth of Jharkhand — who often have to migrate for work or end up scrambling for government jobs back home – that entrepreneurship is also an option and one can run a successful venture even from a nondescript village like Pupunki. Mishra, 25, also wanted to be a job creator, so, on the payroll of Custkart are daily wage earners from the village who are looking for additional income or those who were working in big cities but had to return home during the pandemic. Read and share this story because it’s important to promote young entrepreneurs like Mishra who are trying to set an example.
We are often told – when an opportunity presents itself, don’t be afraid of pursuing it. Sugandha Dubey Mishra did just that. Her journey from Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh to now being a French educator to students from across the globe is inspiring. A translator, interpreter, and corporate trainer, she also works closely with many embassies and international businesses, where her French language skills are sought after. In this candid chat with The Good Story Project, she gives us a peak into her profession and tells us how learning French, the language of travel, tourism, literature, international businesses, and diplomacy, will open new doors for students and professionals. Read this story if you want to be inspired to follow your own passion and carve out a unique path for yourself.
Have you felt depressed after seeing a friend’s holiday pictures on Facebook? Do you feel the urge to go to Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram multiple times in a day just to check how many likes your picture, post, or any form of content that you have put out has got, and do you feel depressed if the hits are below your expectations? Has it happened to you at a workplace that you have felt extremely anxious after posting something on social media fearing that it may not get enough traction? Have you gone on a downward spiral after reading negative or hate comments on your post? While it may not be difficult to deal with these emotions on a normal day, but all days are not normal. And for those who are already dealing with mental health issues like anxiety or depression, being on social media can be detrimental. However, social media platforms are powerful mediums where healthy and mature discussions around mental health issues can take place. Today is World Mental Health Day and it’s the right day to “comment” on how mental health and social media go hand in glove
In 2020, when the journey of The Good Story Project began, we published a series on people living with spinal cord injuries (SCI). Our aim was to highlight the many challenges and how those profiled in the series showed extraordinary strength and courage, embraced their disability, fought every step of the way and are not just doing well in personal and professional spheres, but are also winning medals for the country. While one may come across many success stories, very few stories delve deeper and focus on factors like the challenges of physical rehabilitation, social integration, and the high cost of living that come along with spinal cord injuries. September was spinal cord injury awareness month. We spent the month talking to people with SCIs to understand these three important aspects … aspects that no one talks about.
As per UNICEF, the pandemic and lockdowns have led to the closure of more than 15 lakh schools in India and impacted more than 25 crore children enrolled in elementary and secondary schools. However, for a developing country like ours, the pandemic was just an added blow as more than 60 lakh boys and girls were out of school even before the pandemic. Efforts are being made by individuals and organisations to bridge this gap, especially post covid. Recently, Abhishek Shukla, the founder of Shuruaat — Ek Jyoti Shiksha ki, opened a school for underprivileged children in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, named Shuruaat Play School. The children studying here are given quality education for just Re 1/day. Why Re 1? Because that’s how much one tends to give to children who beg at traffic signals. The tagline of the campaign is quite apt – ek rupaiye bhiksha, ya ek rupaiye me shiksha … how would you rather spend your Re 1? By giving it as alms to a child or towards his/her daily school fees?
When nature forced us to be locked up inside our homes during the pandemic-induced lockdowns, many of us sought solace in music, which helped us heal emotionally. As our lives switched to digital, it led to many connecting in the online world to discuss and share music, and form online music clubs, small and big. So, when two Mumbai-based friends — Kalpana Swamy, a communications professional, who is trained in Hindustani classical music and Kunal Desai, an IT and telecom professional, who is a trained Western classical musician – got an opportunity to create a musical venture, they grabbed it. After two months of intensive research came into being Nostalgiaana Jukebox. Their endeavour is to unearth the forgotten melodies from the 1980s and beyond that evoke the feeling of nostalgia. The USP of their venture is guided listening. In this interview, Swamy and Desai, co-founders of Nostalgiaana Jukebox, tell The Good Story Project’s Swati Subhedar how, through their musical venture, they are striving to spread the goodness of music.
On May 3, the day the world was celebrating Eid, at 11 AM, the mighty Himalayan mountains reverberated with the sound of the Indian national anthem. A team of nine, that included a double amputee, a visually impaired judo player, a blade runner, and a member of the LGBTQ+ community, among others, reached the Mount Everest base camp, situated at the height of 5,364 meters. One of them was single-leg amputee and dancer and national wheelchair basketball player Chanchal Soni, 14, who hails from Nari, a small village in Chhattisgarh. She scaled the summit with the help of ordinary crutches and became the youngest single-leg amputee climber in the world. It was her first mission, and she says it certainly won’t be her last. However, all her future missions depend on something crucial … funding. Soni feels her story did not get the kind of attention it deserved, and more coverage might help her secure funds for her future missions. Being a platform that promotes equality and inclusion, we decided to tell her story.
The Glasgow Climate Change Conference, held in October-November 2021, listed coal and deforestation as two of the most serious causes of climate change. A few months later, in March-April this year, the Chhattisgarh government gave its final assent to mining in two coal blocks in the Hasdeo Arand region in the state. The move would result in the death of more than 4.5 lakh trees and the displacement of thousands of Adivasis. It will also have an adverse impact on the rich biodiversity. These days, illiterate Adivasis, who can’t even spell coal mining, deforestation, displacement, or climate change, have been staging a silent protest against the outlandish decision taken by learned policymakers, bureaucrats, and politicians. We spoke to various stakeholders in the state to understand why this mining drama has been unfolding for more than a decade now and the significance of the present protests.
says 12-year-old Daanya Purohit, as she responds to The Good Story Project’s call for ‘tree stories’. Purohit, who is a nature enthusiast, wants us all to take more notice of the trees around us, and to nurture them in public and private spaces so that we can enjoy greener and vibrant neighbourhoods as well as forested areas.
In this evocative piece, Asha Krishna, lets her beloved frangipani tree tell its story – a story spanning several years, and decades. Of how it came to a suburban Bombay building, and how it grew along with its residents, only to face the challenges of ‘redevelopment.’ But why was it called the immortal tree, and would it survive the builder’s axe? Read along to find out its fate…
“We too, as generations before us have done in literature, compared the strange shape of the flower to a parrot’s beak, a tiger’s claw, a new moon”
Says Nina Bhatt, in this beautiful retelling of a spring afternoon spent in the canopy of the Flame of the Forest tree – the celebrated spring maker, also known by a myriad other names, from palaash to dhak among many others.
Not just in Vadodara, but also at the other extreme of the country, in West Bengal, the palaash has been a pet of other university towns such as Shantiniketan. Gathering its flowers for Holi celebrations came to be a very important tradition in that institution, in keeping with its ideals of reviving Indian art and aesthetics, of re-looking at the use of natural dyes.
Whether you are in Himachal or Karnataka or Gujarat – or for that matter, any part of India, you cannot help but notice how the arrival of spring has made the trees bloom and blossom. It’s true that we all seem to take more notice of the trees around us in spring. Those vibrant hues of orange, yellows, purples and pinks have us spellbound.
And while we revel in the beauty of trees in spring, we are rather grateful for the very presence of trees around us in summer. And that is why, we want to hear from you. Read on…
Being a platform that’s run by two women, it’s our honour and privilege to celebrate women on this International Women’s Day. It’s been sixteen months since we published our first story on The Good Story Project. Of the 68 stories published so far, some are about women who inspire, and some are written by wonderful women writers. All the women-centric stories – including interviews and first-person accounts — that we published on our platform have moved us, touched us, and inspired us. On this special day, we thought about revisiting these stories and sharing them with you. After all, it’s not just about one day. With such powerful women around, every day is a women’s day.
Gaurav Girija Shukla lives in a small town named Arang, 40 kms from Chhattisgarh’s capital Raipur. Nearly 20 years back, his parents opened a school in Arang. Over the years, the school has been providing affordable and quality education to underprivileged children living in nearby villages. The parents of these children belong to lower-middle income groups, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, or are farmers and daily wagers. The founders even managed to open two additional branches in far-flung villages. And then came the prolonged pandemic. As of today, the small branches have shut, and the main branch is at the mercy of the personal savings of the founders. Hearts of hearts, they know it’s time to pack up. Shuklas are not alone. There are a little over four lakh low-cost private schools in the country. Due to the ongoing pandemic, tens of thousands of these budget schools have either shut or are on the verge of shutting. For schools in villages or small towns, the demise was slow and painful. In this first-person account, Shukla uses his school as a case study to give us a larger perspective.
On January 16, the nation woke up to heartwarming images of the last rites of a tigress being conducted by forest officials and locals in Madhya Pradesh’s Pench Tiger Reserve. Soon, social media handles were flooded with tributes and condolence messages from politicians, bureaucrats, wildlife lovers, and even those who had never met the tigress. The tigress in question was the much-loved showstopper of Pench, who was fondly known Collarwali as she was the first feline to be radio-collared at Pench in 2008. But the collar was just an accessory. What made her special was that in her lifetime she gave birth to 29 cubs — unheard in India and possibly the world – earning her the nickname of supermom. The entire family played an important role in getting Madhya Pradesh the tag of tiger state. After her demise at 16 due to old age, Pench will never be the same again, say those whose daily lives revolved around the Collarwali supermom.
When we rang in 2021 a year back, we were hopeful of making a fresh start and erasing the memories of the nightmare that 2020 was. A couple of months later, in April-May 2021, the devastating second wave of covid hit us like a Tsunami. We have entered a brand-new year, however, along with it, a new variant of the virus has clawed into our lives. The first known outbreak of the pandemic started in Wuhan, China, in November 2019. It’s 2022 now. That’s how long the pandemic has lasted. The presence of the virus in our lives for more than two years has led to us hitting the pause button on many of our life plans. Wish there was an option to rewind, reset and wipe out these anxiety-ridden months from our lives that robbed so many of us of milestone moments and changed the course of life for many. While the prolonged pandemic has impacted us all, in this story we bring to you some voices who in their own words have narrated the impact, takeaways, and learnings from the pandemic.
People move their place of habitation because of social, political, or economic reasons. Often, natural disasters lead to sudden displacement of people. However, over the past few decades, large-scale human migration has been happening because of climate change. In India, a rise in extreme weather events like droughts, floods, heatwaves, and hailstorms is fuelling climate migration and it’s the poor who are forced to abandon their homes, land, and livelihoods. The Global Climate Risk Index 2021 puts India among the top 10 countries most affected by climate change. Today, on International Migrants Day, we kick-start a three-part series that will look at various aspects of climate change migration in the country. In the first part, we take you to Uttarakhand, home to several ghost villages, to understand why people, especially farmers, here have been migrating.
International Mountain Day is celebrated on December 11 to create awareness about the importance of mountains to life, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development, and to build alliances that will bring positive change to mountain people and the environment around the world. In India, mountain tourism thrives in the Himalayan region. However, the pandemic has created a crisis of livelihoods for mountain communities. Aptly, the theme of this year’s Mountain Day is sustainable mountain tourism. The Good Story Project ‘visits’ the northern states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand and the Union Territory of Ladakh that border the mighty Himalayas to understand how the pandemic has affected communities living here and how difficult revival of mountain tourism is going to be.
These days, Chhattisgarh-based Chitrasen Sahu, 28, is extremely busy. As I write this story, he is finishing travel formalities and trying to secure the last leg of funding for his upcoming expedition to Mount Acconcagua. At 6,962 meters, it is the highest mountain in the Americas. Previously, in 2019, he had scaled Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, in 2020 Mount Kosciuszko, mainland Australia’s tallest mountain, and in 2021 Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Russia. He is the first double amputee from India to achieve this and his aim is to scale seven summits present in seven continents. “Half human robo” Sahu, also a blade runner, a national-level wheelchair basketball player and swimmer, a motivational speaker and an inclusion and disability rights activist, is on “Mission Inclusion,” and this is his incredible story.
Says Samina Mishra, a filmmaker, children’s book author and teacher. She teaches film at the International Baccalaureate level, aiming to use the arts as a means of self-expression. Mishra is a Mass Communications graduate of Jamia Milia Islamia, and her interests lie in covering aspects regarding childhood, growing up and identity. Her movie Happiness Class on Delhi schools’ happiness curriculum is doing the rounds of film festivals to great critical acclaim. Her goal has been to give primacy to kids’ voices in all that she does. She also has to her credit, many books including Nida Finds A Way, and The House on Gulmohar Avenue, a publicly available documentary film.
In this interview, Sangitha Krishnamurthi holds a conversation with Mishra, after having read Jamlo Walks – the hard-hitting picture book based on a true story of a 12-year-old girl who walked all the way from Telangana to Bastar in Chhattisgarh. Carrying her little bag of chillies, Jamlo covered a distance of 155 miles during the lockdown.
World Kindness Day is celebrated on November 13 every year to promote the importance of being kind to each other, to oneself, and the world. In the last two years, as the pandemic drama unfolded, we witnessed death, starvation, mass migrant movements, job losses, and a spike in mental health illnesses. However, there was something that kept our flickering hopes and spirits alive. It was acts of kindness that touched our hearts. The pandemic scarred us at multiple levels, and the tentacles spread by a tiny virus affected every single person in some way or the other, yet the many stories of kindness encouraged us to sail through and motivated many to help those in need. The Good Story Project has documented some of these stories.
The Good Story Project, which went live in October 2020, was launched with an aim of providing a platform where stories of all hues and topics could find a safe and balanced space. One year down the line, along with the stories, we are now happy to provide content services for individuals, organisations, and projects. Watch this video for more details.
On our first anniversary, we would like to thank each one of you who shared their deeply personal experiences with us … stories that shaped our series on loss and grief. Some of the pieces moved us to tears. It was an emotionally draining series to plan and execute, but those powerful stories have had a lasting impact on us. This series has made us kinder, gentler, and emotionally stronger. So, thank you.
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