7. Inspired by Mother Teresa
A meeting with Mother Teresa inspired Meera Gandhi to devote her life to charity. Now she is celebrating the tenth anniversary of her Giving Back Foundation.
Mayfair resident Meera Gandhi is the CEO and founder of the multi-award-winning Giving Back Foundation.
Established in 2010, it helps to alleviate illness, poverty and suffering, as well as addressing education issues which affect women and children around the world.
Born in Mumbai, India, to an Irish mother and an Indian father, Meera, aged just 16, worked with Mother Teresa, helping children, which changed the course of her life.
Having finished her education with an MBA from Boston University School of Management and an Executive Education diploma from Harvard Business School, her mission in life was – and still is – to help people.
In 2017, she produced The Meera Gandhi Show, which airs on B4U TV Network.
Each episode is based on essential life changing topics with the aim of de-stressing and making life more joyful and positive.
She also recently produced and directed an inspiring documentary, musical CD and coffee table book, all entitled Giving Back, with all sales going to good causes.
What was it like growing up in India with an Irish mother and Indian father?
I think it gave me an intrinsic understanding of how both the east and the west think. I did not know my work would take me all over the world. But no matter where I go I am at home.
What did they do?
My father was an admiral in the Indian navy and my mother had a garment export business.
What did you learn from Mother Teresa when you were just a teenager?
I am very fortunate to have met Mother Teresa at Asha Dan, Mumbai, on many occasions and work alongside her.
The last two years of high school I was there every single Saturday volunteering my time with handicapped children, feeding them, bathing them and putting them to bed for their afternoon nap in a huge children’s ward where they all slept in cots lined up.
Playing games with them and teaching them to dance was also joyful.
“I think what I most imbibed from Mother Teresa was that she seemed joyful at all times. I would see her constantly laugh and think that’s how I want to live.”
When and why did you start the Giving Back Foundation?
I started the foundation in 2010 when my children started going to college as I wanted to be more involved with the people on a grass roots level.
You are friends with the likes of Elton John and the Blairs – and recently HRH prince Edward visited your New York home when he was in the USA promoting the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme.
Yes, I meet amazing people all the time – some through philanthropic work, done through life and some while travelling. It’s always rewarding.
Who are your role models?
My mother is my truest role model.
I think Cherie Blair, Hillary Clinton, Kimberly Rockefeller, Phylicia Rashad, my sister Sunita Rana, Queen Noor of Jordon – so many people inspire me.
What makes you get out of bed every day?
I love my life. I do things because they make me happy and make the world happy. It’s very simple. That has me jumping out of bed every morning – I can’t wait to start my day.
Find out more about The Giving Back Foundation from their website.
A longer version of this article can be read in the Mayfair Times.
You may like to read "The Good Doctor" about the Chelsea-based surgeon behind the David Nott Foundation which trains local doctors to save lives in war zones and natural disaster areas.
Or read Hello Sweetie in which Joanna Lumley talks about life before fame and her ongoing work for charity.