By Mallika Bhatia
It is so easy for me to write about emotions, passions, habits, life, children, parenting, friends, love, self-care and hope, and yet when I was asked to write about myself, I took a minute to decide. I have a list of things that I am really proud of, but somehow it is my upbringing that stops me from speaking about them. Some of the things I learnt from my culture are that modesty is when you don’t need to speak of your achievements, because others do, and you are only truly successful if you don’t have to say that you are. For the longest time, talking about my success almost felt vulgar, but that has to change now.
Because I have truly done some amazing things in my life and someone very wise recently pointed out to me that there is a difference between being proud of yourself and bragging. I am trying to learn that difference and embrace my achievements.
Amongst the other things I am really proud of my online project, The Hope Tribe. The Hope Tribe publishes one story a month about a woman just like us; she could be our neighbor, sister or a friend. What is special about their stories is that each one of our heroines has something to teach us. Their stories are of hope, consistency and inspiration. Each one of these women has overcome a situation that is challenging, sometimes even life-threatening. They struggled, fought, believed and won. Each story published on The Hope Tribe is true, real and inspiring.
I have covered stories about surviving cancer, standing up to stalkers, walking away from an abusive relationship, living with mental health issues, raising children with special needs, and even about losing a child. Through these stories, I have tried to raise awareness about molar pregnancies, genetic conditions and even social malpractices like female foeticide. We have touched upon the very real struggle of a mother who could not decide if she wanted to go back to work, and the journey of a non-athlete who decided to run the marathon. Every month when I sit down to write or edit a story, I feel really lucky to have come up with such an idea. I am humbled by the trust these powerful women have bestowed upon me by sharing their journeys, and I really beam with pride every time I take a final look at the preview and click publish.
How it all began
I found myself very alone back in 2012 when I lost a child in the 21st week of my pregnancy. I almost started feeling that I was the only one who had ever gone through this. People around me were uncomfortable talking to me; it was just me and my husband trying to support each other emotionally. We were supporting each other, which was great, but we were also alone. I didn’t have any references of how to deal with it; there weren’t many stories out there that could guide me or provide me with hope. That is when I realised that there was such a lack of awareness and a dearth of hope.
Ever since then, I thought of starting a support group, but there were many factors that eventually were limiting in my eyes: the geographical location, the fixed timings and the focused topics. I know that support groups are a great tool to heal, and yet I wanted to provide a platform that anyone could access anyday, anytime and anywhere in the world. I wanted stories to reach everyone who needed them, free of cost. I wanted to spread hope in my own little way and that is how I conceived The Hope Tribe.
Was it easy?
No. That is the most honest answer I can give you. It wasn’t easy when I started in March 2018, and it is not easy now. Every month, I have to almost single-handedly hunt for stories. Some people have asked me for money for their stories and sadly I have none to offer, because this is a voluntary project. I invest my time and energy in the hope of helping a fellow human, but gain nothing out of it financially.
Often I have to convince women to share their tales, because sadly most of the women believe that their stories aren’t worth it. They believe that struggling is normal, and there is nothing unique and powerful about handling and overcoming struggles. Once they start seeing the value in what they have achieved, I conduct an interview where I collect all the details of their journey. This is a very emotional experience, and a difficult one at that. It can take up to five hours in a single sitting. Then I sit and write the piece, trying to capture as many of their emotions as possible and making sure it sounds like their voice. Once I am done, the story is shared with the heroine, the woman whose story it is, to see if they are comfortable with everything. Usually the process of reaching publication takes three to four edits, sometimes even more.
The end result though, makes it all worth it. I have realized that The Hope Tribe stories have helped and inspired many of the readers. The women whose stories have been shared have felt heard and valued.The Hope Tribe also works as a platform for other writers to showcase their writing skills. On alternate months I try to publish a story written by someone else. I truly and very strongly believe that ‘the more we are, the merrier we can make the world.’ It has changed me as a person. Each story has touched me and made me a more empathetic human being. I have cried writing some stories, gotten angry and even scared by some, but in the end, I have always come out hopeful and inspired.
Because there is no better teacher than a tale.
So if you are reading this, my request is to not stop yourself from reaching out. Share a part of yourself with the world: you don’t know who you could be helping along with yourself. Talk to your friends, talk to your neighbours, talk to anyone you think would benefit from your journey. You are welcome to talk to me as well. The Hope Tribe would be honoured to feature your journey, and if it makes you more comfortable, then we can share it anonymously.
If you would like to be inspired and help The Hope Tribe spread its stories further, then follow and subscribe at https://thehopetribe.blogspot.com/
And LIKE our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/nobetterteacherthanatale/
Mallika Bhatia is Life Coach with a Master’s in Clinical Psychology and a Diploma in Hypnotherapy, with more than 13 years of experience in this field. She is a writer, a blogger, and a published author with regular dedicated columns in two National Dailies in India. She also manages The Hope Tribe, a platform to share true stories of people who overcame obstacles and became real heroes. She practices in Munich at her office in NeuHarlaching or over Skype/FaceTime. Her website has more details about her work & for regular doses of wisdom, like & follow her on Facebook.