She travels around the world. Stays in lavish hotels. Changes the lives of underprivileged children. She is an independent woman and a single mother. Her life looks perfect. But, this success did not come to her so easy. She believes that whatever she is now is because what she has gone through from her childhood to leaving the toxic married life behind. 

Rupali Goswami (38-year-old) who works for ‘Save The Children India’ as a campaign and communication manager. The organization works for underprivileged children and make every effort to provide education and other necessities to them, especially those who live at the footpath. So far, she has been looking after Maharashtra, now she has been assigned to South India. 

Rupali has been working hard to improve the condition of underprivileged children, but when we go back to her childhood nobody would have imagined she would be here where she is now.

 

Lost childhood

Rupali’s father was a daily labourer and mother was a homemaker in a village called Chakaltasahar, District Bankura, West Bengal. It was tough for her father to put food on the table thrice a day. Her parents already had one daughter who was the first child too. They were expecting a son when her mother got pregnant a second time.

It is because of the financial condition of the family and stigma associated with a girl child. As nobody can resist the inevitable, Rupali was born as a second girl child to her parents. Rupali’s birth hurt her father so much that her father did not come to see her for months. The time when Rupali was born, her father was running a small business in the city with his brother. 

After few months Rupali’s father brought his family to the city and started living in a joint family. Rupali’s elder sister was receiving all the love and compassion that a daughter should receive from parents, but Rupali was deprived of the same. She was feeling isolated in her own family.

Rupali’s mother’s house in Chakaltasahar

This situation gave Rupali’s uncle the courage to take advantage of her. He would harass her sexually. In the initial, she could not understand what was happening with her. One day she said she would tell this to her mother. “Nobody will believe in you. Your mother will beat you up,” replied Rupali’s uncle.

Lack of love, compassion and being a victim of sexual harassment filled Rupali’s life with anger, frustration and lack of confidence. She would not play with other children similar to her age. However, she would find happiness when she would play with small babies.

After the sixth standard, Rupali was sent to a boarding school where she came to know that she is a Dalit. She would get food only twice a day. “I thought here I can live my life happily. But nothing happened as I thought,” told Rupali.

 

The U-turn

Rupali’s life took a U-turn when she scored only two out of 100 in a subject. Her headmistress called her and tried to know the reason for such an embarrassing performance. She showed the love and compassion Rupali has been waiting for. She took Rupali to her home and asked her to study there after school. Headmistress’s love and compassion changed everything. Rupali started to achieve great score in exams.

She completed her Post-graduation in Social Work from the Visva Bharati, Santiniketan, West Bengal. She was a topper in her Graduation and Masters in the same University in 2003 and 2005. She started her career as a Programme Officer in BAIF Development Research Foundation and then worked with Centre for Development Initiatives and then joined International Resources for Fairer Trade (IRFT).

While working with IRFT as a Programme Manager and enjoying the perks provided by organisation Rupali realised that she should not be in AC rooms and enjoying services in five-star hotels, but on the roads helping underprivileged children. 

In 2013, Rupali joined Save The Children India. Since then she has been changing the lives of many underprivileged children. She has been making sure that children who are staying on the footpath are enrolling in government-run schools. She also works hard to let the government facilities reach to the underprivileged children.

Rupali Goswami speaking at a National Summit for Children to celebrate the 30 years of United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) at CESS, Hyderabad.

When asked if she regrets for not receiving the love and compassion from the family. She said she is now trying hard to provide everything that she did not receive in her childhood to the underprivileged children. “Whenever I see underprivileged children, I see Rupali (own self) in them,” expressed Rupali.     

 

Pain into purpose

While professional life was on the peak for her, there was a toxic relationship she was bearing. She was trapped in a relationship with an alcoholic husband. Rupali tried hard to take her husband out of alcoholic habit because this was affecting her married life- He would abuse her physically and verbally. 

She sent him to a rehabilitation centre many times but nothing went well. As a result, she had to leave the relationship behind. “I have seen my father abusing my mother and I did not want my daughter to see all that and think that it is normal and husbands have all the right to consume alcohol and abuse wives and children,” said Rupali.

It was tough for Rupali to manage her abusive husband and professional life. However, she did not let it affect her professional life. Instead, she would work hard and spend long hours in the office to avoid personal life mayhem. “This attitude helped me to do exemplary well in my professional life,” revealed Rupali. 

She credits her success and achievements to some people who helped her throughout her journey so far. “I wish to name few of my friends Rashmi Jha, Sriparna Bhattacharjee, my oldest boss Gaynor Pais and my mentor  Vikas Gora who have helped me achieving milestones in various stages of my life,” added Rupali.

When asked about her dream in life Rupali said, “I want to be known for children.”