Updated: Jan 3
Today I am taking you to meet a very lively lady Rashmi Chadha. But before that let me share something from her extremely-vibrant timeline at SHEROES.
Her timeline is full of posts from her extensive travels, including her solo travels. Let's take a look at one more...
Rashmi tells me traveling is her passion. And being a woman has never been a hurdle to that! I feel the same since I am also a passionate traveler, both solo as well as group travel with my kind of people. However, there are other women who experience restrictions and are unable to travel. Keeping that in mind, Rashmi came up with the idea of wovoyage - a safe travel and tourism space for women.
But before we know what is wovoyage about, let's know the story behind it. Rashmi lost her mom at a very young age to a tragic accident due to road rage, while she was trying to protect a girl from getting raped. The incident left a deep impact in Rashmi’s mind, so much so that she decided to create safe spaces for women in the future. But she wasn't sure then how. She began thinking - deeper and deeper, she says.
Little did Rashmi's heartbroken father know that fate was about to throw something dark at Rashmi, too. "I had a major road accident in 2011. I was in an ICU for 20 days. I lost my partial hearing (Tinnitus) for a few months. Walking was tough since my left side of the face was swollen and I developed a squint in my eye (now the squint is gone but the vision is still weak in the left eye). Life had changed in a fraction of a second. I then realized the actual pain of the disabled. I realized how strong they are to move chin-up and face the world."
She continues, "It wasn't just my pain that changed me, uplifted me to a higher spiritual level. The pain of the people around me became my motivation. I learned how to count my blessings. As soon as I was a little fit, I was back at travel. Manikaran Gurudwara was my regular go-to place - to feel peace as well as perform selfless services. I began accompanying foreign tourists there and made them aware of the Sikh culture in India. I also began working at an NGO, but the idea of wovoyage was like ENGRAVED IN MY BRAIN! And five years later, it did take birth. Not because I had dreamt of it but because I had resolved to do it. The agony I faced at the hospital was less than what women face when a crime is done against them. And I had to take this step towards a better travel future."
Today 33-year old Rashmi Chaddha, who was born and brought up in Delhi is the Founder of wovoyage. Her #TakeCharge Spirit reflects in the caption of a very mesmerizing post she recently did on SHEROES. Check it out!
She explains wovoyage as a Women Friendly Travel Company. But it is not just another travel company, claims Rashmi, "We conduct risk-free and safe travels for female travelers as well as for couples, friends, and families by providing customized tours to any destination within India and abroad according to your preferences and budget."
And it was not an impulsive decision to create such a safe-for-women and women-friendly space. "As a woman, we all have had our own fears and inhibitions while moving around in society. I did my research into not just Indian but also foreigners traveling to India; especially young girls, women. I did this by conducting tours for them as a freelancer. I found that foreign women travelers really want to travel to India, but they feel insecure and are reluctant to travel to the most incredible country in the world. I felt that if I can reduce the risk and provide them with a fully secure tour then there is a business opportunity with loads of potential waiting to be explored. We launched wovoyage meaning “Women Voyage” in August 2016. And we are actually and all-women team Mahima, each young lady as passionate and dedicated as me. It has been a wonderful team journey."
Here she fondly remembers her mom again, " We are two sisters. And never have we been treated like the ‘weaker sex’. Our parents have always been supportive. But they ensured that we thrived to be financially independent so that we can take our own decisions. My mother's death made me realize that so many things are going wrong in our country. And we have to take charge, we can't wait and watch. She gave her life for someone, to save a girl from being raped. And thus I have to continue to strive for improvement of women's safety in society."
She takes a pause, and reveals something which might inspire a few, and may deter others. But she says she has to share it. "I have a Bachelor’s in Mass Communication. But when my business plan was ready I dropped out of Masters in Social Entrepreneurship. I had never been a good student. I would just understand a subject and try to pen an answer in my own words. But then, I will always say that women must take education very seriously. Because that is what makes you independent. I may not have been an ace in bookish konwledge, but the practical knowledge I gained around them paved my successful path ahead."
Rashmi informs, right from creating women-friendly customized travel packages - to hotel bookings; their transportation (some women-driven cabs ) women guides, etc., wovoyage takes care of it all. "We not only provide a safe travel environment to women but also employ women-only staff so that more and more women can get employment. Just like Sheroes, wovoyage is also a platform that is safe for women." We both smile at the mention.
No wonder, wovoyage has its own Community at Sheroes, encouraging women to expand their horizons.
Rashmi, a #TakeCharge soul, has not only motivated women through her work but also through sharing her life story and related works as a TedX speaker! Rashmi smiles as she says," It was such a great audience. I shared my journey crux work and perform better than anyone's expectations."
Rashmi who is also a SHEROES Champion adds, "I joined SHEROES a year back. And I love the concept the base of which is similar to mine - SAFE SPACES FOR WOMEN. And I not only love to encourage women to travel with wovoyage but also love to motivate them through my life journey."
Rashmi has indeed come a long way. Last year she had an arranged marriage and she is quite upbeat about it. " You know Mahima, I am elder to him by a year. And I have heard when the woman is older, the relationship works smoothly," she laughs and I pray that her belief must stay a reality. Amen!
A doting daughter, a super-charged up entrepreneur and a loving wife. But then who is Rashmi at heart? Pat comes to her reply, "Rashmi is a woman who lives and strives to make her nation a better place. I love to travel, but when I am home, it is all about being with my family and my dog Oscar. I work almost 18 hours a day, but then there is always time for spa to relax as well as fill my brain up with some nice documentaries and books. Me time is very important.”
And Rashmi signs off for the moment, by leaving a message for all Sheroes:
"We are Sheroes, so let's share our nowledge with each other; our stories to inspire. Let's join hands to contribute more power and empower more and more women around us. We all have hidden powers, all we need is a resolve to unleash them."
Do share her story, because I am sure we all love traveling and that too traveling safe!