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Survivor from the tragic floods to become youngest writer and social changemaker in India | Alice Sharma

Survivor from the tragic floods to become youngest writer and social changemaker in India | Alice Sharma, founder of Vastra Aur Zindagiyan Foundation
Alice Sharma, founder of Vastra Aur Zindagiyan Foundation

Alice Sharma is an author to 7 books, India’s youngest writer to write and publish 4 books in a day at the age of 21 affiliated with INDIA BOOK OF RECORDS, she has been felicitated as one of the 100 leading ladies of India by the INBA. Alice has also been felicitated with the women of excellence award by the ICSI. The 23 year old author is also a social entrepreneur and founder of an NGO – Vastra Aur Zindagiyan Foundation headquartered in Delhi, working towards the upliftment of the downtrodden and unprivileged sections of the society.

Alice Sharma comes from a middle class family, based in Delhi. Alice says “I’ve been born and brought up in a middle class family. While I was a child I had the privilege of being spoilt by the unending love and attention that the three ladies in my life have managed to given me, my mom, my aunt and my grandmother. I’ve grown up around these three women that was the best part about my childhood. I’ve learnt to celebrate life watching them.”

Alice Sharma belongs to family of law background, she was expected to follow the footsteps of her family and become a lawyer after her high school. But destiny had some other plans for her. She shares “I was diagnosed with severe typhoid, so even after clearing an entrance exam, I couldn’t make it to the law college. I was bedridden for 4 months. I could not even move or get out of the bed. I had to choice but to take a gap of one year. I went through a million deafening insecurities about my future while I was bedridden. I had no clue about the future. It looked scary to have no direction, at all.”

Alice started experimenting with her writing skills in that one year, she recalls “Writing somehow became my therapy. It gave me the headspace that I needed so badly. I began writing random blogs and posting random snippets on my Instagram page. People from all walks of life, were all heart, for my content. They adored what I wrote which persuaded me to finally start working on my debut novel – Longer than forever. The book did exceptionally well, on the charts. I didn’t expect it to be such a huge success. It became an instant bestseller on amazon, it made it to the Oxford bestselling stands, and it even got me a national award. That’s how unpredictable the writing journey was for me. But, today when I look back, I wouldn’t have wanted it to happen in any other way.”

Alice has also been named by the India Book of records as “The Youngest Indian writer to write and publish 4 books in a day”. She says “I remember how it took me almost 5 failed attempts before I successfully made it to the India Book of records. Although it sounded impossible to write and publish 4 books in a day but there was a drive in me that made it possible. It was exhausting but worth it!”

“The journey of being a social entrepreneur was quite unpredictable.” ­- Alice Sharma

Alice is one of the survivors from the tragic Uttrakhand floods that took place in 2013, where over 90,000 were presumed to be dead and lakhs were missing. She was stuck in Kedarnath with her family. Alice recalls “We were stuck in a room that was a roof to 20 other people, for 5 days. We had no access to food, sanitation facilities or even water. Surrounded with dead bodies, I had no hope of coming back.”

Alice Sharma and her team members

She was rescued by the rescue operations team and it was in the year 2019 that she established an NGO at the age of 19. Alice says “I have already witnessed life at the ending edge. I have seen buildings collapsing into dust, I’ve seen life coming to an end. I’ve seen people abandoning the dead bodies of their own family members because they had to save their own lives. Witnessing such a havoc at quite an early age, it made me transform. It made me grateful and at the same time, it made me fearless. It made me learn to go out of the way to help people & ease their suffering.”

The driving force for her social start-up is the drive to bring forward a difference, not just in words but through actions as well. Alice Sharma says “Social start-up isn’t about making profits it’s about making a difference at the grassroot level. We don’t chase profits, we chase change. We struggle on ground to fight the predestined stereotypes, norms and notions that make the unprivileged people suffer, endlessly. The life of a social entrepreneur isn’t around annual turnovers but about making survival easy – for the downtrodden.”

The 23 year old Social entrepreneur had to go through a lot of struggles to make sure that her plans were being executed, in the right way. Alice mentions “There were so many challenges that I had to face while I was building my social start-up. The two major challenges that I had to face as the founder of Vastra Aur Zindagiyan NGO included building the right team and maintaining a smooth flow of funds, especially during the lockdown period. I would say, building the right team was one of the major challenges for me as a founder of the social start-up, because your team actually decides the fate of your plans. It took me a long time to build the right team. The second major challenge that we had to face during the pandemic,was that the funds were being dried up, we raise money through crowdfunding networks mainly,our donor’s base started shrinking because people out there were struggling for their own bread, so logically, we couldn’t ask them to donate. Still, we managed things quite well and we were able to feed over 3,50,000 unprivileged people during the pandemic.”

Through her NGO, Vastra Aur Zindagiyan, she has been serving the unprivileged sections since 2019. The team has successfully reached out and helped over 3,50,000 people during the pandemic. Alice says “Keeping in mind, the current structure of the NGO, we are working at three fronts, first, we aim at the holistic development of children, wherein we provide them with life skill sessions and recreational activities that shape their mind set. Second, we arrange for legal aid workshops centred around the unprivileged women on sensitive issues like sexual harassment and domestic violence. Third, we feed nutritious meals to the unprivileged and downtrodden sections who are starving to death.”

On being asked about the ideal formula to become a successful entrepreneur, Alice Sharma replies “It’s all about staying true to yourself and your work. In my case, that is social entrepreneurship, we don’t run begin profits we run behind purpose. That’s how it should go. Many of the entrepreneurs today, run behind profits without having any actual purpose. That’s exactly why most of them end up failing. From everything that I have witnessed in life, I’d say, you just need to have a purpose in life and the profits would come along only if you choose to stay true to your purpose.”

When asked about her life’s greatest inspiration, Alice replied “This might sound a bit weird. But I don’t think I’ve ever had a materialistic or human inspiration to look up to. There’s no one I would want to become like and contrary to what it sounds like, this isn’t self obsession but an acceptance to embrace my failures. I learn from my own failures. Nothing motivates me more than my failures. I’ve never had any materialistic inspiration in my life because I believe, I have a purpose in life and that purpose can never be materialistic.”

Alice Sharma has a piece of advice for all the college graduates who want to become entrepreneurs “Stay true to yourself. Everything else would come along. Sooner or later. You can cheat on anyone in this world, but the moment you decide to cheat on yourself and your passion, you put an end to everything. Stay true to your art. It will take you places. This isn’t one of those cliché motivational talks but here’s something that I’ve always believed in: The world belongs to you, you just have to get out and claim it.”