Gifting a second chance at life, and to emerge from personal failures, the Nikhil Chandwani Foundation: Writers’ Rescue Centre, is enabling thousands of people to channelise their struggle into writing best-selling novels, and give them the opportunity to share their stories with others.
“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” – Anne Frank
The power of writing translates itself into a life-saving approach at the Nikhil Chandwani Foundation: Writers’ Rescue Centre, where over 9,000 teens and adults are shaking off their insecurities to find meaning in their struggle. With students ranging between the age group of 16 to 72 years, the foundation has produced more than thirty best-selling authors, and over 50 TED(x) speakers.
Nikhil Chandwani, author of books like I Wrote Your Name in the Sky and Yours and Yours Too, felt the need to help people suffering from depression and suicidal tendencies, and channelise their struggle into writing.
“I dropped out of engineering at the age of 18, in my first year itself. I had written a book back then, and I was struggling to market the book, and I was hearing all kinds of taunts in the world. Life was an insecure journey back then,” he says.
Established in 2017 with an intent to help people having similar insecurities, the Nikhil Chandwani Foundation: Writers’ Rescue Centre amasses storytellers - depressed and suicidal souls - who are mentored in book writing.
The foundation has developed a unique writer-to-author, public speaker, and visiting professor module. Students sign-up with the foundation to seek help in writing, and their books are published and marketed through the foundation. These writers are then taken to public speaking platforms, slam poetry, and column writing fields to form a career path.
“People often talk about startup mentorship, but creative human mentorship is missing in the modern world. There is no proper job module available for writers, and they often end up switching professions. This makes them depressed, frustrated, and some of them resort to quitting in life. We are trying to save them. We have National Award winners on board, who were my students before, and now they’re working with us,” says Nikhil.
Writing to shake off their struggles
The foundation has students who may be suffering from some form of disability, or may have been suicidal or depressed. It helps them by giving basic writing lessons, and help them write down their thoughts, after which an in-house editor edits the text, and within a month the book gets published, with the writer keeping the complete royalty.
The writer is then taken to public speaking platforms such as TEDx and newspapers, where they can share their stories either by speaking or writing. Nikhil recalls some of the memorable journeys that were touched by the foundation:
- Nikhila Chalamalasetty, a youth on a wheelchair with disability, from Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, was able to write and publish her first book with our help.
- Ritesh Verma met me at one of my lectures at VIT University. He had thirteen backlogs and was suffering from depression. He was interested in photography and poetry. Today, he is an LA short film award-winning director, a published author of the book Mystical Emotions, and was one of our first students. Personally, he is healed and professionally he is an award-winning director and a published author.
- Siddharth Roy met me when he was sixteen with an interest to write. At seventeen, he is now an author of the book The Special Fish, and is a social worker helping Maharashtrian Farmers. He is an inspiration in himself. (MS) Dhoni loves him. I love him as well. I feel proud to be a part of his struggle story. He is a three-time TEDx speaker, and has won numerous awards.
- Prab keerat Mahendru had dreams of writing a book and travelling. He was my student and met me at an ice cream parlour. Now, he’s the author of the bestselling book, An Old Monk.
- MD Zabi Khan was my fourth student who met me on social media. I was inspired to know that he had rescued over 500 animals and saved over 3,000. At 19, he now holds a world record as the youngest in his field and has written his first book on rescues.
I can compile a book on the struggle-to-success stories of our foundation, and that is in my bucket list. Meeting a person with dyslexia, Siddharth Zuko Sabari (author of Figmented Reality), and helping him get his book published; meeting Shreya Nair, who was depressed, and helping her reach her dreams; meeting Dr Shakila (author of Odyssey of Spirits) and helping her compile 25 years of her life in a book; meeting Rajyavardhan Singh from Jaipur and guiding him in writing and publishing multiple best sellers, is a feeling that has helped me deal with my own emotional insecurities and guided me to completeness.
Reaching out to potential writers has been the biggest challenge, says Nikhil. With an inadequacy of investors and finances, there is dearth of a better marketing plan. Most of the inductions would take place during interactions at guest lectures, or queries over mail sent to Nikhil along with publicity through word-of-mouth.
“Everybody always likes to point out that our centre's main office is my house basement. And yet, the success stories coming out of our foundation is something no other startup can boast of. More than 50 of my students are TEDx speakers, and over eight National Award Winners. Yet, it is hard to convince investors though,” says Nikhil.
“Nikhil Chandwani Foundation: Writers' Rescue Centre is currently being run in Nagpur and Hyderabad. Next, we are giving out the franchise in Visakhapatnam. Our students, however, are from different parts of the world. They travel, stay until their books are published, and then leave,” Nikhil says.
After touching the lives of thousands and adding meaning to the art of writing, the foundation now plans to start a writers' tourism with support from the government, and bring in writers from different parts of the world under one roof to write their books with the help of mentors, and publish them.
“Helping those who were taunted in the same manner as I was in the past; and trying to guide as many writers at once through the foundation, has helped me personally in my life. Most of my old students meet me when I travel for guest lectures, and we get nostalgic about the myriad journeys.”