While we are growing everyday as a community, things wouldn’t have been the same without the efforts of those who were keen at working with the community, who are or were here to help us know and understand better. These, are their stories.
Liza Chawla Tandon
Liza founded Chhoti Si Asha in April 2006, while working with three street children who made a living by begging in Chandigarh’s market plaza. She’s Chhoti Si Asha’s guiding force and her sensibilities of working with the community as opposed to working for it, have been instrumental in establishing love and acceptance as the cornerstone of the organization’s work.
Liza wears various hats as part of her work with the community and spearheads Chhoti Si Asha’s Stitching-a-Livelihood Program. As “didi” to all around, she mentors the community on all their issues. Over the years, she has brought meditation, street-theatre and co-operative playing workshops to Chhoti Si Asha and has worked with the families of community members encouraging them to send their young to school.
Before moving to India in 2005, Liza was with Johnson & Johnson and Siebel Systems in California, where she was her CRM group’s favorite software troubleshooter. She counts cooking inventively, fitness training and travel-to-explore among her interests and Manav Sadhna, Charity Focus and her family as her deep inspirations. She has a B.Tech degree in Computer Science Engineering from Thapar Institute, Patiala.
Divya joined Chhoti Si Asha in 2011 as an Indicorps Fellow. She has been focused on marketing and sales of the products of Chhoti Si Asha. She heads the Janta Colony Library initative. Divya Sooryakumar graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in Economics and International Studies. She spent two consecutive summers working with micro-finance organizations in India and Uganda.
Mamta has a die hard belief in alternative education. She believes that children learn through hands-on activities and experimenting on their own. She dreams of one day opening her own school. She feels happiest when she is working with children and making them happy.
Mamta has been working as a facilitator with an NGO and as a teacher for eight years, facilitating theater, science, math, team work and puppet workshops for parents, teachers, young adults.
She loves learning new things and working very systematically She also has got a lot of faith in the universe.
From a young age, Kanchan wanted to be a designer. She studied textile design and product design. In all her years of work, she couldn’t find creative contentment, until she joined Chhoti Si Asha. Her dreams lie in the revival of crafts and craftspeople. She is a regular design and marketing consultant for CSA.
Previous Team members
Amit co-founded Chhoti Si Asha in 2006 and is fondly called “bhaiya” by everybody at Chhoti Si Asha. He is also our official interface for all matters related to the Government and he does that difficult job persistently and cheerily.
Aside, Amit is a cleantech and renewable energy technopreneur presently working on a cleantech startup. Amit has a BTech degree in Computer Science Engineering and has over 10 years of professional experience working with MNC organizations as Cadence Design Systems and Circuit Semantics in California. He adores dogs and hopes someday to establish a not-for-profit spaying & neutering services for stray dogs in the city.
Baljeet helped many individuals learn tailoring and stitching from scratch. A rapid multi-tasker, she raised Chhoti Si Asha’s productivity with her efficient ways and demands similar efficiency and economy of everybody around.
Associated with the initiative since 2007, she was also responsible for managing Chhoti Si Asha’s accounts and squaring daily payouts and receivables. Baljeet holds a Diploma in “Stitching and Tailoring” from Chandigarh.
Sukhmani Kohli has been involved with community theatre, puppetry, clowning and use of arts for healing for over 10 years. A multi-interested individual, she has also explored urban farming, zero waste ways of living, film making and has volunteered with various organizations in Chandigarh, Punjab and Rajasthan which work in the sphere of education, environment, media and zero-waste lifestyles. An avid volunteer with Chhoti Si Asha and a part of it’s founding group, she presently straddles between Chandigarh and Bengaluru – where she works with Maraa, a media collective.
Sukhmani has brought jewelery making, theatre and co-operatives games to Chhoti Si Asha. A thoroughly chilled individual, she also founded Chandigarh’s hang-out community place Café Kaffee Kuchh where every Sunday one could hang out and be served food for no fixed price to one’s pocket, except what one willingly wished to pay!
Anuj is that rare, do-gooder guy — who infects everybody with his positivism and unabashed romanticism. A badminton and marathon fanatic caught in a geeky software job, Anuj’s has been an unflinching financial supporter of Chhoti Si Asha. The organization’s midday meal program has been funded for long by Anuj, which makes him somebody with a lot of karmic merit, we suppose.
Anuj plans to involve more of himself with social sector efforts once unshackled from his corporate vows. He’s based in Zurich, Switzerland and plays badminton every weekend – come hell or high-water.
Mr. Gupta is the logistical expert who helps Chhoti Si Asha for it’s machining needs in cutting cardboard and paper for making file covers and docu-folders. Always cheerful to help, he has provided the initiative with quick turnarounds with its machining needs as well as expertise on best quality practices.
Shashi has been in the education field for the last fifteen years. Shashi was an educational facilitator at CEVA (Center for Education and Volunteer Action) for twelve years. For the past three years, Shashi has been working with Coveda School. Shashi brought her knowledge and experience to the Janta Colony Library Program as a Program Facilitator.
Shashi is a mother to two boys and a girl, Rupika, also a former facilitator at the Janta Colony Library.