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So while #SABERA19 has been quite a success as shared by all who participated- jurors, speakers, entrants, and delegates. Behind the scenes was quite something else as well. SABERA 19 was put together through women volunteers. I am not sure if you know but I had work from home moms running the show.

Rucha from Pune has been a constant support throughout the journey since I started the search for volunteers. She is a mother of two, a 3 & 10-year-old, her last stint was in IBM before her kids were born. While her focus was to help with the backend operations, she eagerly reached out to her own contacts to supplement my efforts of raising sponsorship. Happy with her proactive approach, I offered for her to keep a small percentage of the monies raised in case her efforts converted. She refused, stating that she wants SABERA to thrive because she identifies with its intent. More so, it has given her an opportunity to get back to mainstream work. Rucha wants to continue to be a part of the event in the coming years as well. Then there was Ashwini from Mumbai, a mother of a toddler, who had been struggling to get a job after her maternity break, a techie by profession she helped with checking entries online, maintaining the database & support Rucha. We also had Meenakshi, a young mother of 2 children, helping us for a bit, until she herself was diagnosed with breast cancer that had already metastasized. Irrespective, she kept cheering us through as we did her through her treatment. Then there was Khyati, a beneficiary EWS of the Old Modern school association, who now studies in DU, while Khyati had been very enthusiastic, her class schedule in DU permitted her only a few hours a week to help out, also her final exam was on the day of the event so she could manage to contribute only through the jury meet.

The jury meet itself was when the Delhi smog was at its worse, right in the midst of flights being stalled and the weather playing truant. But the day of the meet, November 5th, the sun was up – bright and cheerful. I remain grateful to all the jury members who attended the meet in full strength from across the country at the Grant Thornton office.

Then, of course, there were our young hosts, Chandini Khan and Jayashree Patil. Chandini has risen from the slums and has limited reading & writing skills, while Jayashree traveled just the day before to prepare, filling in for Kranti beneficiary, Sandhya (the original host – scholarship holder in Ashoka University, who had to bail out because of the loss in classes due to the smog in DELHI). Jayashree, also a beneficiary of Kranti, working to rehabilitate daughters of sex workers, traveled from Punjab were she volunteers with an NGO. She missed the overnight bus since her cab broke down on the way to the bus stop. She then took an early morning train to reach Delhi just an afternoon before the event. Phew! We rehearsed, prayed and were up in arms smiling on stage the next day December 4th.

Looks like we made it- After all

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