Most people are fascinated by my name, and I’ve always wondered why. Maybe because it’s rare, or because they can’t pronounce it – there’s an accent on the ‘e’ (pronounced eh) but very few people understand it well, even in India.
Saleha is an Arabic word meaning righteous and righteous, and as I got older I realized how much my name has shaped my life.
I was born into an interfaith family (Ma a Hindu, dad a Muslim), went to a Catholic school and am now married to a Sikh. My faith has absorbed the best of all religions and guided me to become a better person of myself. Religious festivities – for me – are more of a celebration with family and friends over a good meal and good drinks.
Growing up, conversations at the dinner table focused on how we could help disadvantaged people. My grandmother helped families and small businesses with financial assistance. She was not rich; Widowed at 32, she raised three children on her own with the salary of a director while maintaining an extended family.
Ma followed in her mother’s footsteps and started a school for underprivileged girls. She struggled to get them to school when supplementing family income – even for girls as young as 10 – was a priority for families. Four hundred and fifty people attended Ma’s funeral, including girls who were the first students in their family and are now educators.
I have been volunteering since I was young, teaching underprivileged families to read and write as part of my school’s leadership training for service, and later I helped at Mother Teresa’s home for them. orphans.
It was during the pandemic that I realized how much my voice can help the community. I launched my webcast, Chai, Chat & Community, in September 2020. I’m talking about issues that have been swept under the rug, with the aim of educating and raising awareness in the South Asian community. My guests and I are doing this pro bono.
Wanting to make a difference led me to join IndianCare, a community-based, non-profit primary prevention and early intervention organization that helps women fleeing domestic violence, supports international students, and educates older people about the harmful effects of domestic violence. ‘alcohol. I’m also the director of PeaceMeals, a community organization that helps refugees and new migrants meet established Australians over a plate of food.
In India my brother and I are supporting 150 disadvantaged children with educational items because education is the most empowering tool.
My mom shaped my life and my name – which I learned to respect – made me a better person.
Saleha Singh is Publishing Manager at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.