“Live to give with love to all” - is the maxim by which Dr Villy Doctor lives her life and attempts to show this path to as many as she can. To all who know her and know about the noble work she has been involved in since the past eight years, she is better addressed as ‘Mother’.A woman of grace, dignity, calm and pose, Dr Vily exudes warmth which draws you to her instantly. She carries an aura of inner strength and unconditional love for all.
A brilliant student, the pretty and dignified Villy graduated from the premier education institute of St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, earned a Master’s degree in psychology, followed by doctoral work on Psycho-biological changes through meditation. She joined St. Xavier’s college as a senior lecturer and was invited by Nirmala Niketan (a women’s college), as a visiting professor to teach ‘Personality theory and Development’ to post-graduate students. Villy was appointed as Head of the Department of Psychology at the Sophia College, Mumbai, at the young age of 23 years. She helped young people to overcome their problems of drug addiction, alcoholism and personal emotional problems. In the course of her interaction with such individuals, she became increasingly aware of the positive dimensions of Meditation. Simultaneously, her interest was captured by the state of the mind in meditation and she studied the various schools of thought on meditation as a ‘Science in the Methodology of Personal Development’.
“I had always had a fascination for studying human behavior and I guess with the academic knowledge I was also blessed to empathize with people in a profound manner. I saw the myriads of problems people live their lives with, the biggest poverty of all being illiteracy. Poverty, the prime criminal, clubbed with social norms and a rigid mentality to stay away from change had become second skin to them and had made the lives of these people a never-ending pit. A counseling centre was set up on the premises and that is where I started to reach out to people”.
This went on for a decade after which Dr Villy got married and along with her husband plunged headlong into a market research business ‘Ormax’ – ranked amongst the 3rd best in the country.
One could perhaps raise their eyebrows at this shift of activity but Dr Villy with her ever calm demeanor responds with her smile “Market research involves consumer behaviorism and this is in turn closely linked to human psychology, – their likes, dislikes and the reasoning behind those decisions, all of which is deeply linked to human psychology, isn’t it?” This business association with her better half went on for a decade. You begin to think she likes to make a 180 degree change every ten years.
The next phase in her life saw her pursue the role of meditation in stress relief and used it as a therapy, a cure-all for the various problems people encountered in their lives. “ I always used to think about how people need help, and found out that intense psychosis treatment did not help in working out things. “Meditation brings about so many positive changes” - her radiant smile says it all - and I studied it for a very long time to the extent that I learnt all the techniques and began receiving messages from the Higher Self to undertake various tasks. Techniques at various levels really help to eliminate cobwebs. Love plays a key role because when you have love in your heart for not only yourself but others as well, fear exits through the door. I started a healing center from my own home and this again continued for another decade which saw three healing centers spring up – at Worli, Napean sea road and at Chowpatty”.
One wonders about the experiences she must have undergone meeting individuals from all the sections of society and she states “Oh yes, I have faced extreme situations from the rich to the very poor. I was once called at 3 am to a residence where the parents held knifes, ready to kill their sons”. Her experiences send a shiver up your spine and you marvel at the lady’s bravery. She is truly blessed with inner strength. “ God has made me the instrument to guide, heal and help. When you surrender to God , the pathways of solutions open to you. Only you can help yourself. I am nobody. I have surrendered myself to Him completely and He guides me to do it”. The incidents of help and healing leave you in deep thought about this wondrous lady’s efforts to extend her helping hand and love to all and one has to meet her to believe the effect her ‘more than holy presence’ has on everybody.
“Light of Life” was established in 2002 as a non-profit organization to realize the untapped potential of rural India. According to Dr. Villy, “we believe in a natural and holistic solution to life and we focus on three main areas of social improvement through it projects viz: “Anando, Jagruti and Aangan”.
Project Anando was established in 2005. It enables the underprivileged rural children access to education and relevant activities leading to holistic development. The project started with only 25 children and has successfully reached out to over 3000 students till date. The programme module consist of personality development and takes place every weekend. “Our social workers are trained to conduct modules in life skills, goals and achievements. Students who have completed their 7th standard are admitted into these programmes”. The reasoning behind this is that India has the largest number of school dropout children. Between the ages of 11-18, the drop out ratio goes up to 70%. That is the reason we select children after their 7th class and support and encourage them to complete their education, equipping them with skills to make them self sufficient. Parents in rural areas tend to stop their children from further education especially when they are either in the 3rd (parents feel the child is not progressing) or in the 7th (when they feel that the child has acquired enough knowledge) and needs to assist in getting providence for the family) but to break through these mentally fortified barriers has been a wonderful challenge which has seen their lives transformed miraculously and for the better.
Surely they would have faced resistance keeping in mind the age-old mind-sets of these rural folks! “Yes, of course, we have always faced immense opposition to the progress of these deprived children. Intervention happens at 3 levels : Parents, School level (Principals) and Teachers. It was a chain reaction. The parents would never agree as a result of which the Principals of these schools shut their doors and naturally the Teachers would turn a deaf ear as well.
But Dr Villy and her colleagues never gave up hope. They persisted with lengthy discussions and thought provoking counseling with all the parents, even if it meant door-to-door education to the elders. ‘Light of Life Trust’ convinced the parents that education is every child’s best friend. The social workers were trained in imparting the benefits of education and they indulged in a ‘house – to- house exercise, dedicatedly and passionately. Our social workers have been so effective that parents are now coming forward and admitting their children to college through the efforts of LOLT. More than 250 children have now entered college and 25 have taken admission in Industrial training institutes”. One can well imagine what these individuals must have gone through trying to make people who had never had a whiff of academics to allow their children to step into a world of knowledge!
One of the striking features within this programme is the ‘Student friendly supplementary education programme which aims to address the critical education needs of the students’. “ Critical education needs” explains Dr Villy,
“refers to the various necessities of the poor. Their study material which includes, books, guides, compass boxes, raincoats, school bags, shoes and more”. And how do they manage this monumental task?
“Well, we do have corporate and individual donors and 110 trained social workers who play a key role in this activity. Though each kid gets two uniforms a year it is heart-wrenching to many of them wear out these uniforms very quickly because that is all they have to wear. They wash and wear the same two uniforms are clothed in them throughout the 365 days of the year!”
And how are the social workers trained to face the worst case scenarios in these villages?
“We have a training program every three months where they all of their current skills are further honed to meet with newer and tougher challenges. Every training programme has seen these social workers develop their own personalities and better their own lives. I have seen their constant progress which in turn makes their endeavors towards imparting the message of education and more to the rural folks in a positive and confident manner. Their efforts translate into success which is reason enough to add joy to not only the students and their families but inspires others to follow in their footsteps. Above all, it gives us reason to take another step forward”.
Dr Villy is currently working on the expansion of Project Anando to the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Ask her if a state like Madhya Pradesh instills any fear in taking this project there and she responds with a warm smile “ There can never be fear when you have love in your heart. Love conquers all and that is all you need. One does not have to fear anyone or anything”.
Even while you take a deep breath into understanding the enormity of such a colossal task, Dr Villy takes you through the other two ‘trust projects which are ‘Project Jagruti and Project Aangan’.
Project Jagruti - was established in 2009 aims at empowering children, destitute women & senior citizens to mutually enrich each other’s lives in a joyful and harmonious setting. It is a center which will make students vocationally independent thus ensuring them of a secure future. The vocational training includes a range of subjects which include computers, agriculture, vermi-culture, cultivation of roses, sewing, stitching, and many more all of which are service-oriented jobs which will definitely enrich their lives.
Within the fold of Project Jagruti is ‘Jeevan Asha’ – A community centre which will have a children’s home, a senior citizens home and a medical diagnostic center. On 20th Feb,2010, the Jeevan Asha community centre was formally inaugurated by ‘Light of Life Trust’ with the support of ‘Chance of Life Germany’.
Project Aangan - A hospice for the terminally ill with a R&D facility as well as a stress management centre. Dr Villy and her co-workers have seen people with terminal illnesses living in the throes of depression. During the course of their healing process, they realized they wanted to make a difference to these lives also. “Medical assistance offers no remedial solutions and through healing we wanted to make a difference to these lives also. This project will offer care and comfort to the terminally ill in residential quarters and also engage in research and development. The ‘Aangan; hospice is visualized as a place of rest before the end of one’s life journey. The aim is to create an awakening amongst the underprivileged sections of the community through which they can blossom with the emotional support of and interdependence on each other.
Making the rural folks understand the importance of education is a daunting task and yet there are other parallel areas of concern to be taken into consideration e.g. Hygiene. How do they manage that? “Our social workers are trained well in the concept of hygiene and it is they who impart the knowledge to the kids in detail. Keeping oneself physically clean, the environment clean is something which is taught just like any other subject. We organize annual health check-ups for all these people and in this effort we are well supported by Doctors associated with various clubs like Rotary, Lions and others”.
An NGO with a noble cause indeed whose efforts are all there to see. “Ours is the only NGO that is working for the upliftment of rural secondary children because of the 80% drop-out rate amongst rural secondary students. Today, we have 31 centers in the villages of Maharastra across 5 districts and we have more than 155 people working with us. They are making a difference to the lives of more than 3000 children. Our volunteers identify the drop-outs and convince their parents to continue their children's education. They also get financial help from individual and corporate donors in funding children's education.
‘Healing’ comes naturally to Dr. Villy and numerous are the incidents which establish the fact about her powers, none of which she claims credit for. “He is the doer. I only follow instructions”. A note-worthy mention is about a ship at high seas which had hit a rock and where the commander, despite his best efforts was unable to do much to salvage the situation. Even while this was happening, Dr Villy had a vision asking her to go and save the lives on that ship. She sees herself reaching out to the commander of the ship. She steers the ship out of danger and saves the lives of all aboard that ship. The same commander happened to attend one of her healing sessions and was convinced that he had met Dr Villy earlier but just couldn’t recall the time and place. A friend in whom Dr Villy had narrated the dream told her about the commander’s presence in the healing session. At the end of the session Dr Villy made it a point to speak to him and simply inquired about the experience of that stormy night at which the commander was taken aback and then recalled that it had been Dr Villy, who had saved their lives.
Ask her how her family has taken to her ‘Healing’ sessions and she says “Both my husband and son have taken it well though I do travel a lot both in the country and even abroad. When my son was a child he never liked the idea of others addressing me as ‘Mother’ and would often react - ‘She is my mother’ - but as he grew up he realized he has a the entire world as a family to love and to be loved”. That realization changed his outlook and today there is so much compassion in my son”.
The adage that ‘when there is extreme turmoil, God manifests through his creation to offer solace’ and bring peace seems to hold true in the case of Dr Villy. Is Dr Villy a living saint of our modern times, an enlightened soul who asks for nothing but loves to heal and cure all of their ails? Ask her if becoming ‘self-realized’ is difficult and her gentle smile washes away your doubts. “It is very simple and one has to be ready for it. In the fast-paced world we live in, one cannot expect others to meditate for hours at end. ‘Sahaj Yoga’ a technique developed by the honorable Nirmala Devi and that is what helps. You can give self-realization en masse. From Sahaj Yoga, I have evolved the technique of Sathya Meditation. That is how the healing process begins.
Dr Villy has till date conducted many successful workshops on Stress Management in India and abroad .
The lady has a grand vision of making lives better not only in India but even abroad. According to Dr Villy, there are 4.6 crore children in rural India that need Anando’s intervention and “we hope to reach out to them. The success of Anando will go a long way in putting numerous rural children across the country on the road to self reliance”.
Alishaba Ujagare - A school drop out from the town of Khapoli, completed her SSC with flying colours and is now pursuing Electrical Engineering from a Polytechnic College with the help of LOLT . She is also instrumental in encouraging her siblings and neighbors to continue their studies.
Bhagyashree Wayare - Daughter of a domestic help is enrolled in Frankfinn Airhostess Institute and is also a part time journalist. She was able to achieve this with the help of LOLT. She is on her way to becoming an airhostess.
Tejas Roothe - Who could not afford school fees had to quit school but he completed his 10th and 12th standard with the help of LOLT and is now a 2nd year Hotel management student.
Tejal Patil – Who hails from Alibagh, was finding it very difficult to continue her studies but with the support from LOLT, she has successfully completed her education. Today she is a professional Auto Cad - Professional Designer - and is financing an advance course by having found a job.
Reshma Gaikwad - An orphan who had lost all interest in her studies is today pursuing an advance course in painting as she aspires to become MF Hussain – thanks to the encouragement and support from LOLT.
These are but a few stories of the wonderful humanitarian work being done by LOLT in its very low-profile manner. “I have never wanted to be in the limelight. We have been approached by many who make promises and never show up but nothing stops us from continuing our work. We belief in our inner strength which we get from Him. There was a time when I was unaware of places like Karjat or even a Nandurbar but once I was asked and guided by Him, stepping out seemed so easy. I moved ahead and have never looked back”.
“A life to live
To love, to give
And see Him in all
To experience the Self
And be selfless
Is the path to which we should all belong” – Canta Dadlaney