By Masalamommas Team
We are thrilled to launch our first ever Masalamommas parenting editorial board! Our aim in creating this team of inspiring moms from various life experiences, locations and backgrounds is to tap into the challenges and issues that South Asian moms from various communities face and help raise awareness about motherhood in a cultural context.
With over 30 applications from moms answering our call out for volunteers, we chose this incredible group in an effort to provide different locations, cultural backgrounds and parenting experiences to help us here at masalamommas direct some of our content to reflect our global masalamommas community. They were chosen based on their experiences as moms where they live, the culture they bring and breath of insight they can bring to our parenting stories.
We will work together to bring their experiences on motherhood and translate them into stories that matter to you the reader. Each of these board members will have virtual meetings with our editor, Anjum Choudhry Nayyar where they talk about everything from challenges on cultural expectations, health issues, stigma in their communities, questions around raising children and gender bias. We are very excited about our first editorial board and welcome all of the to our masalamommas team!
Neha Dedhia Shah
Neha is a mom of three young children (5 1/2, 3 1/2 and 16 months) living in San Jose, California. After graduating from NYU with a Masters in Public Health, she worked in a few different jobs in California. When her oldest son was born in 2007, she left her job as a Program Manager for United Health Group to be a full-time mom. In May 2011 she started a baby product review blog BabyRecs and works on her site when her kids are in school and sleeping. “I love writing for a blog that allows me to be a part of the adult world by meeting amazing people, making amazing contacts and writing. I have the best of both worlds as I get to be home with my kids and work on my own blog.”
Besides writing and raising children, Neha enjoys crafts of all types. “I could spend all day crafting and decorating.”
What does she love about masalamommas? “I enjoy reading stories from other moms. We are all in the same boat as parents but have different expertise and experiences and it is fun to learn from them…especially moms who are South Asian. The moms whom I can learn from and aspire to be are the ones that I really enjoy reading.”
Sara has this to say about herself and the perspective she offers to the parenting panel:
I am a child of two worlds. My father was from Pakistan and my mother is from Nova Scotia, which makes me a little of both. This, I would argue, is what makes up the essence of a modern-day Canadian. My life has followed an interesting path, straddling these two worlds. It has made my life both richer and more complex.
Since my father died, I have been looking for ways to stay connected to my East Indian roots. My extended family is scattered all over Canada, and living in the small Ontario town that I do, it is a challenge to find opportunities to mingle with South Asian kin. Now that I am raising a son, I am even more motivated to make those connections and ensure that he benefits from the same cultural richness that I experienced. That’s one of the many reasons I’m excited to join the community here at masalamommas. We could all use a little inspiration, a little guidance, and many more connections. I hope that my contribution will be as valuable to you as yours has already been to me. I am a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a community volunteer. That’s not an exhausted list, of course. There are many ways that women choose to manage these roles. Personally, I enjoy a good glass of wine. Often.
When I’m not picking up toys, making dinner, advising my little brother and trying to get in a workout, I am a development consultant with over 20 years experience in the nonprofit and corporate sectors. Intrigued? Please feel free to follow me on Twitter (@SaraMari) or LinkedIn. Or check out my bio at www.onemarketing.ca.
Jacqueline has an Indian Jewish background and migrated right after her graduation to pursue a new life and culture in Israel about decade and half ago. Today she is married to with 2 girls, 10-and 5-year- old Noa and Naama. Jacqueline pursued her MBA while she was pregnant with her second baby and is proud of herself to complete a degree in a foreign language, Hebrew which she learnt only after her migration.
Though completely immersed in an Israeli society , she has a strong hold of the Indian roots. She is very social in the community and is an active member of different organizations like the Central Organisation of Indian Jews , Global Organisation of People of Indian Orgin (GOPIO, TelaAviv chapter) and in different activities organized by the Indian Embassy in Israel .
“Even my daughters are strongly connected to India, my aim is to reduce the cultural confusion and its very important that they understand and learn about where their parents have come from and their lifestyle they had back in India. ” Celebrating different Indian festivals (like diwali, holi and Christmas) in a symbolic way and exposing them to different arts, traditions and culture of India is my way of them to know about the roots of their parents. Jacqueline currently works as an Information Systems Specialist , is passionate about reading, cooking, networking and writing blogs at jackmick.wordpress.com. What she likes about Masalamommas: “Like minded moms who have a lot in common to share about and make a positive difference in the lives of each other.” Jacqueline is truly enthusiastic for life!
Madhu Verma Soin
Madhu is currently pursuing a PhD while juggling being a mother of two, living in Madison, Wisconsin. She says, “It is pretty isolating here as a South Asian American mom PhD student with two small kids; so I love masalamommas.com to feel connected with other awesome moms with challenges like my own.” She is passionate about her kids and is raising them to be positive, empowered, global citizens of the world. Madhu says as a board member she brings the perspectives of a scholar in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis researching second generation Indian American women college students at a predominantly White campus (she also has a MS in Counseling Psychology and has worked at UW-Madison in student affairs) .”
She is married to a second generation Punjabi American also raised in the Midwest and is one of the many Punjabi families affected by the Oak Creek, WI gurdwara massacre which happened 90 miles away from her home. She considers herself an activist and advocate for human rights, especially second generation and 1.5 generation Indian Americans like herself. “Being on this panel will be a great opportunity to voice some important issues that South Asian Americans are facing.”
Sharmila Rao Thakkar
Sharmila has this to say about herself and the perspective she offers to the parenting panel:
I am a full-time working mom living in Chicago (a NY transplant, been living here for 12 years now!) with my entrepreneur husband and children (ages 5 and 8). My background is in pr/communications and I went on to earn my masters in public health and public administration. It’s now been nearly 17 years that I have been working and doing all things philanthropy and nonprofit, which includes overseeing grantmaking at a family foundation in Chicago, (volunteer) directing the South Asian Philanthropy Project, leading my daughter’s girl scout troop, mentoring young professionals, and serving on the boards of a women’s foundation and parenting organization.
My father passed away unexpectedly when I was in college and I watched my mom, brother (and extended circle of “family friends” and “pseudo cousins”) go through a series of emotions and changes both obvious and not-so-visible over these many years. Now, as a parent raising my own family living away from my closest friends and family and having to essentially recreate a network like that I grew up with on the east coast has me reflecting loads on the sacrifices my parents had to make to go after once-in-a-lifetime opportunities *and *the value of relationships to our upbringing. I know you can’t be prepared for everything in life, but somehow I know experiences shape the future, mine-and those of my family.
It’s more than coincidental that a conversation sparked at a random girls’ night out, kids birthday party or abbreviated midnight catch up with my hubby followed by a quick post to my inner circle of moms and advisor moms/aunties is soon thereafter a full on topic at Masalamommas! I’m continually intrigued and interested in the content and potential to connect, engage, learn and grow our families together. In recognizing my South Asian identity, history and strength, Masalamommas provides me, my family and community with information, resources, and insight on how to be a more thoughtful, effective and authentic parent. I truly believe resourced and supported women build strong families which empower healthy communities and lead to a better society.
Zahra Shah Sandberg
Zahra is a full-time working mom living in Chicago, IL. She studied history in college, and currently works in business development. She is an American-born of Pakistani descent in a multicultural marriage. Between work and mommyhood, she missed pursuing her own creative interests, so she started blogging about her personal style at:www.lovezahra.com. She believes that for women, the secret to happiness is two-fold – spending time with positive girlfriends, and carving out time for hobbies you are passionate about.
Even though she considers herself a proud American, Zahra loves her Pakistani culture and wants to stay connected with its rich traditions. Like other desi families, she grew up very connected to her community with social events like house parties (dawaats), weddings, and Sunday school. She wants her 2-year-old son, Adam, to have the same wonderful memories that she has of her childhood. Nowadays everyone is so busy, it seems there are fewer and fewer places for South Asians to maintain a sense of culture.
Zahra is especially excited to join the Masalamommas team because she believes it is a much-needed space where South Asian women can connect about the most important thing in life, family. You can follow Zahra on twitter @zahra_sandberg.
Mehwish Khan, is a mother of a four-year-old daughter and executive assistant at an electric company. Born in Lahore, Pakistan, Mehwish came to New York with her mother when she was just four years old. “We grew up in a middle class family where speaking Urdu at home was a must. My father was extremely strict. We weren’t allowed to wear shorts and talk to boys. My dreams of being a ballet dancer, gymnast were….just that a dream. My daughter is involved in gymnastics, ballet, swimming and karate. (I wonder why?) I was so excited when I found Masalamommas on facebook. Finally, a parenting magazine directed towards South Asian issues and problems.”
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