…Indrani, you know much less than you think. Do more “on the ground” research. This advice would have saved me a lot of money and I would have deployed those resources differently and more thoughtfully.
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Indrani Goradia.
Indrani Goradia is a philanthropist and advocate for women’s health and empowerment. She is the founder of Raft Cares, previously Indrani’s Light Foundation, which is a nonprofit foundation dedicated to improving the level of care for domestic violence survivors by training and supporting front-line domestic violence caregivers in reducing compassion fatigue and burnout.
Indrani is a tireless advocate for girls and women leading empowerment trainings in several countries around the world. An author, speaker and certified life coach, Indrani has delivered keynote addresses at conferences and leads workshops around the world.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I came into activism and philanthropy as a direct result of severe maternal childhood abuse. I worked very hard to parent without abuse, and I was successful. I decided to do “grass tops” and “grass roots” work to help end Domestic Violence
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
When I began, not a single woman’s shelter said “yes” to my workshops, even though all my workshops were research based. Finally, one local shelter sad YES in 2013, BUT they ghosted me a few days later. I cried for days over the disappointing turn of events, but after a few days, I dusted off my heart and ego and started again. I am glad I did because as I write this in 2022, I will be leading workshops (virtually) for the US Navy stationed in Italy. I am working on delivering these classes on site as well.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
While it’s very hard to find funny when trying to end domestic violence, the instance that stands out is when I was preparing to give the TEDx talk in Trinidad. I was planning to use a shovel as a prop and for days carried that rusty shovel back and forth from hotel to venue. I was sure that someone would ask why I have a shovel. No. One. Asked. It seemed to be invisible to other guests and all the hotel staff. Finally, I said to one of the porters “are you not curious about my shovel?” He said, “what you do is your business.” I burst out laughing and then something sad occurred to me. People see women being abused in public and they tell themselves it’s a private matter rather than a public health imperative to report. Violence is as invisible to the public as the shovel I carried. This makes me call out even more the abuses I see, and I do not allow others to enjoy their pretend blindness.
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
RAFT makes a difference in a number of ways:
– We provide workshops to SV and DV organizations that provide advocates and leaders with tools that can be used personally and at an organizational level. This helps to put the focus on resilience and the well-being of advocates so that everyone working in these organizations can be healthier and maintain their energy and passion for the difficult work they are doing to support survivors. We are giving a group of people, who normally focus only on helping others, the time, ideas, and tools they need to remember to also think of themselves, their families, and their overall well-being.
– Our workshops then open the pathway to advocates attending our monthly support calls. Here RAFT brings the concept of group coaching, an often-expensive offer, to the advocate world for free. Advocates get to sit, virtually, in a room with other people doing the same work they are, and experiencing the same challenges they are, and realize that they are not alone. They get to hear stories from other people that make them say “yes, that is me too, I totally get that!”. This normalizing experience is powerful for the advocates, and it then opens them up to the group brainstorming ideas and solutions that advocates can take away from the call and use in their work.
– Research shows that leadership and organizations are having a negative impact on advocates, not to mention an overall broken system. RAFT offers Executive Director leadership calls, and Emerging Leader leadership calls every month to support leaders of SV and DV organizations with the challenges they are experiencing. These calls, like the advocate calls, focus on a group of people gathering and discussing their shared experience, while sharing ideas and solutions they can all try when they leave the calls. These calls also look at organizational issues, look at ways the current system is broken, and acknowledge that, although they are doing challenging work, they can still have the impact on their organization and in the movement that they want to have. Executive coaching is an expensive experience that most SV and DV leaders cannot afford. By making these calls free RAFT is giving these leaders a chance to experience the power of group coaching.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
During the Covid pandemic, I dived headfirst into the deep end with coaching the advocates of sexual and domestic violence organizations. I was able to guide many of them into better self-care. One young woman stands out. Let’s call her Maryann. She realized that her brilliance and resources were better spent doing her version of retreats for young women. She quit her job and moved across the country to start a whole new life. She was inspired to live her brightest purpose. She saw me living mine and realized that she wanted to make that change. She is enormously happy she made the change.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
Politicians can help by having “NO Domestic Violence” on their platforms. They can stop victim blaming and push for effective laws in their states to address domestic violence. This problem is real — 1in 3 women and 1in 6 men experience domestic violence. We all lose when domestic violence remains invisible.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
My definition of leadership is to walk beside and help others to remember their strengths and values. I love to get people to tell me about their biggest challenges and ask how they navigated them and then say, “how can you use those skills here?” Most people forget how brilliant they are and need to be reminded. The poet Gallway Kimmel said “sometimes it is necessary to reteach a thing it’s loveliness.”
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each
I have a big list, here goes:
Indrani, you know much less than you think. Do more “on the ground” research. This advice would have saved me a lot of money and I would have deployed those resources differently and more thoughtfully.
Indrani, do some volunteering before creating the foundation. I would have volunteered in a few different domestic violence shelters so I could better understand the deep pain that resides in survivors.
Indrani, you will be surprised by how many women will push back on your message. Whew, this one is huge. We women sometimes seem to be the loudest voices supporting the status quo of cultural violence. We repeat lies like “I beat my kids because I love them”, or “my husband/boyfriend beats me because he loves me”. I am still saddened when the voices belonging to women uphold violence.
Indrani, you will not make as big a change as you want. This one would have hit me hard. I would not have believed it. I would not have accepted that hard work/financial resources and a powerful message were not enough to create massive, sustained changes. I still do not want to accept this.
Indrani, one day you will be too tired to continue, so pace yourself. This one is hard to swallow. I am 68 and tired. I found that I must pace myself and say “no” to more things and it is always hard. My husband is often the one who says, “you will make yourself sick” and I don’t like to hear those words. He never says, “I told you so”, and for that I am grateful.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would love to inspire a movement where every parent asks “how can I parent peacefully? How can I learn to control my non peaceful urges and learn to be more emotionally intelligent?”
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My life quote is, “A single person’s fantasy can transform a million realities.” — Maya Angelou
My single-minded fantasy of ending domestic violence has given me opportunities to affect changes in more than 10 cities in India, in Trinidad and in many cities of the US. We are now virtual and many more are reaching out to take our classes. I will never stop fantasizing.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would love to connect with Trabian Shorters to learn how to asset frame violence so we can stop the scourge.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Indrani Goradia of Raft Cares Is Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.