Meera Teresa Gandhi is the daughter of an Irish mother, Ellen Mary, and an Indian father, Admiral Perbodh Nath Agarwal. Though she spent a part of her latter youth in England and Ireland, she grew up in India, where her early years were spent following her father around the country as he progressed in his naval career.
At the age of 16, and while still a student at the Cathedral & John Connon School in Bombay (now Mumbai), she volunteered to teach dance at Ashadaan, a shelter for abandoned and differently-abled children, the destitute, and HIV-positive people run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.
Her mother encouraged Meera to continue working at Ashadaan through her last 2 years of high school, but meeting and spending time with Mother Teresa proved to be the turning point in Meera’s life. That is when she truly understood the great joy in doing things that are beyond and outside of the self. As she herself says, “Now when I speak to young people, it’s important for me to inspire them that giving is the only way to be.”
Meera was awarded a scholarship to study at United World Colleges in Canada, where she was the driving force in encouraging students who could dance or play an instrument to perform at a home for the elderly where she persisted with her involvement in community service.
She continued with her charitable work and fundraising in New York with various organisations through her early professional life, marriage, and motherhood. The young family moved to Hong Kong because of her husband’s job, and it was while living there that Meera had her epiphany in 2009. “I felt like something was lacking in my life. That I felt disconnected, and I really needed to do more”, she says. So along with her husband, they set up The Giving Back Foundation®, of which Meera is, and continues to be the CEO.
Her passion for her work ensures she stays actively involved in the foundation’s day-to-day operations, monitoring the progress of on-site grassroots projects, and in making decisions on the disbursement of grants. “In 2020, my mission is to expand the work of the foundation and focus on our product line. All the proceeds from these products go to the foundation.”
Meera Gandhi has three children; two daughters and a son, and spends her time between New York, London, Hong Kong & Dubai.
From volunteering her time as a teenager to help handicapped kids, to now providing educational programmes and platforms for people around the world, Meera is giving back in more ways than one.