by Puja Shah
Like many first generation families, I know what it took for my parents to leave everything they knew from their home country of India in search of a better life in the USA.
As my family has settled into our Southern California life, I realize that I am an extension of my parents’ sacrifices towards an American dream.
This is one of the biggest pieces of my life puzzle that inspired me to start a nonprofit organization with my husband, The Shah Education and Exploration Foundation, (SEEF). SEEF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit working to help educate people about the earth’s most vital ancient wisdom and to advocate for compassion and social change. I try to embed lifting others and raising awareness to those in need in all we do as a family, so that I can pass this down to my kids who one day be able to elevate our community and the world beyond them also.
Recently, SEEF worked with the chairs of the San Diego Human Trafficking Advisory Council Community Sub-Commitee for the first ever Anti-Human Trafficking Conference at the Encinitas Public Library. The conference was inspired by my debut novel For My Sister. The story tells about twin sisters, Amla and Asya, who are unknowingly trafficked into the taboo world of India’s largest red light district and separated. Can the power of poetry, mindfulness, and sisterly love bring them back home and to each other?
While it is fiction, the book is based on my volunteer work with underserved women and children in Uganda and India, and interviews with nonprofits serving survivors of human trafficking and child marriage.
Sasha Taylor, child marriage survivor, former FBI and founder of Reality of a Desi Girl said:
“Bravo! Puja Shah is precisely the fiction writer the literary world and global readers need to transcend to an empathetic place to finally begin understanding the plight of women and girls across the globe.”
With over 40 million people worldwide currently displaced or missing due to human trafficking, I felt called to bring awareness to this topic within the story of a strong sister bond. More information on the the novel’s awards, praise and mission is at www.formysisterbook.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr. Puja Shah is a philanthropist and visionary poet who shares her voice through written and spoken word, guided meditations, and teaching. A true miracle, she was born over 2 months premature in Queens, N.Y. to immigrant parents, yet doctors thought she wouldn’t survive. Through the power of Sanskrit mantras, she was given the name Puja, which means prayer. She grew up to defy teachers who questioned her English skills by winning numerous poetry and short story awards in her youth.
As an avid reader, she spent her teen years exploring New York City for poetry slams and book readings. Being first generation, the blend of east and west has always fascinated her. She holds a graduate degree in dental medicine from Tufts University and then found courage to pursue her passion for writing. Along with three yoga teacher trainings, Puja has received countless education in various forms of yoga, meditation and ancient wisdom. She currently lives in Southern California with her family.