A mother, a model and a social worker
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A mother, a model and a social worker

Dwarka resident Ritika Vinay performs each one of her roles to perfection.

A mother, a model and a social worker

We have all heard of models turning social workers — but the other way round? That’s not so common, is it? But if you are a Dwarka resident, you might just know someone in the vicinity who fits the bill.

Ritika Vinay, a resident of Sector 18, Janak Society, Dwarka, is the founder of Handicapped Children and Women’s Aid (www.hcwa.org.in), a non-profit organisation; and Saksham, a special school for the differently abled. She recently won the Women's Achiever Award 2016 in Mumbai by the Young Environmentalist Programme for her contribution to India’s social and cultural scene.

But she also has a more glamorous feather in her cap. She is an international beauty queen. She won Mrs Asia Pacific Queen of Substance in 2014 for her work for the social empowerment of women. She also won Mrs Elegant Walk at Mrs Asia International 2014.

So how did she get into modelling?

“I know it sounds funny, but my charity work actually acted as a springboard for my decision to take up modelling,” she says, laughing. “I got the idea during one of my NGO events. I had asked a celebrity to be the chief guest, but he asked for so much money that I wished I could become the brand ambassador of HCWA myself. And then it struck me: Why not? All a celebrity does is draw attention to the organisation and the work it is doing. What better if I could do that myself?”

“That’s what prompted me to participate in Mrs Asia Pacific Queen of Substance in 2014,” she adds. “It’s just another means to contribute to my social work.”




















Her organisation HCWA, which works for the uplift of underprivileged women and children, has been around for the past ten years. With the support of her husband Vinay Kumar, a retired Air Force personnel, HCWA has treated hundreds in need of medical and emotional attention. “We organise free medical camps at slums every month,” she says. “We have supported more than 500 cases of cardiac surgeries and kidney treatments in different hospitals, including AIIMS.”

“We also have a computer centre, where children from all social backgrounds get free basic education. More than 2,000 children have already been taught here,” she adds.

The Saksham special school, also started by Vinay, takes care of counselling, physiotherapy, speech therapy and vocational training for differently abled children.

Vinay’s interest in social work began quite early in life. She was selected the best cadet at NCC and went on to represent Delhi in its Republic Day parade as Platoon Commander in 1997. “It was actually NCC that inspired me to devote my life to social service,” she says. “We used to visit old-age homes and slums during our NCC camps and I always felt terrible about how little we could do for them. It was on one such camp in Gujarat, in 2000, that I decided to volunteer for the Spastic Society of Northern India’s HCPA [Handicapped Children's Parents Association]. It was a snap decision.”

A mother of two, Vinay also cherishes her time at home. “Social work and family are the two things that drive me. I send my children to school and then look into my meetings with donors and sponsors. I also take out time to visit Saksham and HCWA. I meet the patients and, in many cases, counsel the parents of the special children. I try and visit schools to spread awareness on issues such as drug abuse, needs of special children and the importance of a healthy lifestyle. It’s very fulfilling,” she says.

“But evenings and weekends are reserved for home,” she adds. “I help my children study after they have come back from school — it’s the best part of family life.”

And what if work calls? “Work is an extension of who I am. If there is something that needs my attention then, I will answer. And I know my family will understand. It is also my duty as a mother to make my children realise the importance of helping others,” she says.