Sonia Mackwani, Founder-Director, Creative Head & Fundraising
With an inner calling for spreading love everywhere, Sonia Mackwani, the founder and director of Touching Lives is the inspiration of the organization; constantly touching many lives at a time. She set up Touching Lives with the belief that it is our need to serve rather than saying that we are serving the needy. A clinical psychologist and a clinical hypnotherapist by degree, she believes that God can be found in every individual if we allow them to just be. She is also an author and has written two books of fiction for children; one is Tales from Indian Mythology – Mahabharata and the other is Ramayana. Her first non-fiction book ‘Everyone Can Heal’, was released in 2015.
If you ever wondered how to make a difference, just touch one life – Sonia Mackwani
Honored by the President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee – 100 Women Achievers of India by Ministry of Women and Child Development, 2016.
A Noble Laureate Award – Karmaveer Puraskaar in 2011 by iCongo.
CNBC Young Turk Transformer award – Social Entrepreneur category.
In 2008, she received the Aga Khan Youth Award for Excellence in Leadership and the Aga Khan Role Model Recognition Award in 2009.
Gaurav Puraskaar in 2011.
She was chosen as one of the Top 5 Mercedes Benz A Class Achievers from all over India in association with AUTOCAR Magazine. Currently she is also working as a film consultant for a bollywood film and is an aspiring film maker.
Wearing so many hats together, she dreams of having a self-sustainable Touching Lives all over the world. She also intends to raise all the funds for Touching Lives by herself. She is working towards being a best selling author and a film maker who can tell good stories to others.
You can know more about her here
Ankit Kanani, Communications and After-School Mentor
Silence is therapeutic. Before you label or judge something or someone pause and reflect. Maybe then you will get a bigger perspective – Ankit Kanani
The questions related to the purpose of his life have been the best of companions for him since a very young age. An IT engineering graduate from Mumbai University, Ankit was working with a corporate firm when he grew closer to the spirituality which made him leave his corporate job within six months of joining. He, then felt that his priority is to do those things in life which he truly adores and it was then by some crazy miraculous coincidences, he landed at Touching Lives!
It was while working here with like minded people he realized that searching and serving together is fun and satisfying at the same time. And it was by teaching, fund raising, communications, learning therapies and healing techniques he realized that Touching Lives is a path to discover and live your purpose. It is a path to service, love and compassion. Apart from that, he also visualizes of doing something extraordinary in the field of sports, science, music, philosophy and literature
Elliot Campbell, Communications and Editor
Elliot Campbell is a marketing and communications professional who currently lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. He grew up in Toronto, Canada. He began to volunteer for Touching Lives in 2013 when he came to Mumbai for a year and wanted to help a non-profit organization. He has assisted Touching Lives in developing donor communications, including a monthly newsletter. While Elliot has moved back to the US, he still advises Touching Lives on communication projects.
Elliot graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. He also earned a Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, USA
Aditi Kanwar Parmar, Human Resource and After-School Mentor
Life is not just to exist, it is to live by; live it and feel it completely every second – Aditi Kanwar
Aditi Kanwar or the powerhouse is the heartbeat of Touching Lives. She joined Touching Lives with the thought of giving back to the society. Bearing tremendous experience in counseling and having an educational background in psychology, she believes that inculcating values is an important aspect of education. Very dedicated in her work of mentoring, healing, counseling, training kids and also in handling human resource. She feels that there is always room for improvement. An epitome of kindness, she believes that freedom, love and compassion are some of the precious things which should be practiced always.
Apart from serving in Touching Lives, she loves to dream and work towards fulfilling them. She has many dreams in her eyes. She dreams of having her own musical cafe and of establishing herself in the field of arts. She wants to learn new, exciting things and most of all experience every moment of her life.
Tanvi Shah, Public Relations and Transit Mentor
Out of everything, what a human should do is to be open to self reflection, because then the world will definitely shift – Tanvi Shah
A management graduate from Mumbai University, Tanvi realized that it is not business which excites her but values and emotions. It was at Touching Lives she realized that all she wants to do is to help everyone in their paths to help themselves. Being with children, mentoring them, working with them, she feels that it is important for her to touch at least one soul in her life in anyway possible. Assisting in healing programs and evolving with children, she has now learnt to be very conscious of having any judgments about anything or anyone. An avid reader and a dreamer, she is now practicing being present every moment.
She dreams of seeing all the children at Touching Lives fulfilling their dreams. Apart from that she intends to become a librarian and to read as many books as she can. She also aspires to be a Kathak dancer. She wishes to evolve with every experience and to continue to live and learn together.
Rubina Khan, Finance Lead and Pre-School Mentor
A human will learn and evolve with love instead of rules – Rubina Khan
The most experienced member of the organization, Rubina Khan joined Touching Lives in 2008 while continuing her degree. Being the oldest member of the organization, she possesses the wisdom of turning a child into a human being in the most amazing ways possible. Bearing a diploma in Early Child Care course, she knows perfectly how to make learning interesting for kids. With the mind of an expert, she is the one who handles finance, designing and mentoring aspects of the organization simultaneously. With zeal like no one else, she believes in serving humanity unconditionally in any way she can.
Apart from being the pillar of the organization, she dreams of opening her own affordable Pre-School so that every child can get the gift of knowledge which they truly deserve. She also intends to create new things which can make life simple for her and others.
Divya Tewar, Resource Lead and Beginners Mentor
Work is worship – Divya Tewar
She began as a student with Touching Lives. After graduating with a diploma in Early Child Care she started working as a mentor with Touching Lives. She has a determination like no one else has. Apart from being one of the most dedicated mentors, she is also one of the founders of her own organization called Serena Sutra Arts, which creates and sells healing products all over the globe. She donates a part of her sales to Touching Lives to sponsor other children’s education. She has set an example of how you can fulfill your dreams and at the same time how you can serve and share. She is a living tale of inspiration and dedication for everyone around. With her sparkling smile, her soft heart and her sweet Tamil accent, she knows how to capture everyone’s heart.
She is determined to buy a house for her family and she also dreams of spreading Serena Sutra Arts everywhere around the world.
Nikita Shah, Pre-School Mentor and Academic Program Head
The ability of a human to help and comfort other human beings in need, by small gestures like a smile, a hug or a simple message makes this world a more beautiful place to live in – Nikita Shah
A computer engineer and a human resource post graduate, Nikita Shah believes that everything in life happens at the exact time it should. Having a dream to start a learning center for children with special needs, Nikita feels she has already started her journey and is moving closer to her dream with every passing day. She is now learning and understanding how things work with children. In the moments spent with children she often feels both joyful and overwhelmed by the love she receives and makes sure to work harder to return the same kind of love to them.
Being blessed by an amazing family and friends, her idea of rewinding is to have a quiet, peaceful time with them.
At Touching Lives she is assisting in the pre-school program. Along with that she is building a database of all our children. She is also the one handling the school academic portfolio of our children.
Alisha Daredia, Community Beginner’s Mentor
To make a difference in the world, you must be different to the world.” – Alisha Daredia
A student from Mithibai college, Alisha is pursuing her bachelors degree in Arts (final year). She started contributing to the community as an intern at Touching Lives. It was here she realized her potential of working with small children and she decided to continue being a part of Touching Lives and contribute her time and knowledge for them.
Now Alisha works at one of the community centers. She keenly works on the lesson plan to give a proper insight of the topic to the children. She believes that one should always be open to learning and that teaching is also a two way process of learning.
She wants to become a psychologist. Also she dreams of taking a tour of all the wonderful places around the world and spread happiness.
Banhi Banerjee, Legal Advisor
Motivated by the noble cause that Touching Lives works for, soon after coming back to Mumbai, I began volunteering for Touching Lives – Banhi Banerjee
Banhi is a legal professional who started her career in India before moving to Australia for nine years and has recently come back. Since October 2016 she has been providing overall legal advice to the organization in resolving its civil and corporate law related issues and to ensure compliance.
Banhi has done her Bachelors in Law from University of Calcutta. She has completed her Masters degree in Business Law from National Law School of India University, Bangalore. Banhi has completed her Diploma in Law and Diploma in Legal Practice from University of Sydney and obtained a certificate in Business Management from TAFE, Australia. She recently successfully completed two advanced certification courses on Essential Skills for Successful Negotiation and Three Pillars of Business Decisions: Law, Strategy and Ethics. She worked as a legal counsel in High Court of Calcutta for six years before she moved to New South Wales, Australia. In Australia, she worked as a corporate and civil lawyer for four years. She considers her skills and experience will be in good use if she can give something back to society through Touching Lives.
Poonam Tevar, Social Media Coordinator
Being a child who has grown up and evolved at Touching Lives, connecting to other children and their stories is the easiest thing to do – Poonam Tevar
Poonam joined as a student at Touching Lives. Now she is the social media head here. If you ask her what is her inspiration she will shyly say that the process of learning and growing motivates her the most. Touching Lives is the school of values through which she is reaching the peak of evolution for herself.
She is currently studying at National College pursuing Arts and her dream is to study abroad. She believes that the universe is very strong and it is always with her. She also thinks that as we move ahead beyond our boundaries we invite the universe to take charge and with the right action, attitude and courage we can fulfill all our dreams.
For Poonam Touching Lives is her roots and wings too. It is the journey and as well as the destination for her.
Ram Soni, Community Mentor for Beginner’s
Ram joined as a student of Touching Lives, he is now a mentor here. He takes care of one of the community centers and spends time at our learning center advising and addressing children’s problems related to studies or in general. He is indeed like a role model for the children of the community center. He believes that whatever happens always happens for the best and that one should keep spreading happiness to everyone around.
Ram loves the company of children and feels happy to connect with them. As he has been a part of Touching Lives as a student, he knows the importance of education and knowledge he has gained and so feels blessed to bestow the same on other students.
Ram is currently pursuing Bachelor of Arts (final year) from R.D National College and wants to become a Psychologist. He also dreams of making it big someday.
Nisha Joshi, Publication
Be the miner, tunnel through life with a torchlight, so that the light shows the path not just for you but for others too – Nisha Joshi
Nisha is a free thinker, a passionate lover of the fine and performing arts, a writer to her core and a musician in the making. Poetry burns like a flame in her heart and music is the steady calming force within her. She has authored a book for children called Tales from Indian History.
Debi Prasad Sahu, Film-maker, Social Media
* Dreamer * Lover * Foodie * Gypsy * Hippie * Romantic * Junkie * & * Photographer *
I have always been fascinated by culture ever since I was a child. I wanted to know about and experience different places and the people that live there; their language, food and drink, clothing, traditions, art and craft, celebrations and festivals, the everyday way of living and everything else.
Debi was born and brought up in Bhubaneswar, Orissa. He wanted to be a fighter pilot at 8, a palaeontologist at 13, a war journalist at 15, and a fashion designer at 17.
After a Post Graduate degree in marketing from KIIT School of Management, Kalinga University and quitting three jobs in two years, he ended up volunteering at Bhubaneswar based Bakul Foundation and picked up photography.
Like everyone else in Touching Lives team, Debi was on his journey of self-discovery which led him towards Touching Lives.
Debi says,“After my studies, I worked for a couple of years in Bangalore and Belgaum in the corporate world. I could not see a happy future for myself. So I quit my job and returned to Bhubaneswar. Here, I joined Bakul Foundation which is one of the best Children’s libraries in the country and also is a volunteering organization.
As a volunteer, I worked on numerous projects and campaigns in the areas of environment and education. I picked up photography and did freelancing, learned film making and travelled to many parts of Odisa, both for work and fun. During this time, I discovered the world of arts; it changed the way I perceive and do things. It helped me appreciate life and to be happy about all the things that life has to offer; big or small. I got to learn about the countless different varieties of arts we have in Odisa and in India; it’s fascinating. Also, during this time I continued to write poems and short stories for my blog.”
He is also an occasional cook, poet, lover!