Exclusive: Pinky Ghelani On Motherhood, Loss & Advocacy For Women

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Pinky Ghelani is no stranger in the Kenyan media scene. She was first thrown into the limelight after being crowned Miss India Kenya in 2000. Her interest in media, however, began in the UK where she interned at Zee TV as a presenter in 1999.

She later returned home and joined Capital FM as a presenter after her Miss India Kenya win. After years of working in radio and television, Pinky tried her hand at events management, television production, and even moved on to print as an editor of a local magazine.

The established media personality however, has been through rough patches in her personal life, something she terms ‘life-changing’. After losing her dad at only 6 years of age, losing her brother at 17 and watching her mom ail after a stroke, her story is nothing short of inspiring. It is one of triumph, overcoming trauma, and helping others while at it.

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All is however not gloom and doom, as Pinky also enjoys family life as a wife and mother, and humanitarian working with the UNHCR.

WoK spoke to this incredible woman and got a glimpse of her struggles and wins.

Tell us about yourself

My name is Pinky Ghelani, I am an African woman, proudly Kenyan, born and brought up here. I have a media background with many years in radio, television and print.

Since your exit from mainstream media, what have you been up to?

I am currently working on a platform called What Women Want. This is a platform that covers the needs of women, what matters most to women and the changes that women want to see in society. I started the platform just before COVID-19, as a physical engagement, but later on completely switched to online on my YouTube Channel.

Through this platform I have met and engaged with various incredible women, telling their stories and inspiring our viewers. I have also been able to engage in other different platforms with a similar agenda. However, this does not mean that we have left our male counterparts out. By holding these talks and talking to different women, we are also targeting the men and involving them in issues like mental health advocacy, advocacy for gender-based violence and addressing the day to day societal challenges.

I also work with the UNHCR in a program called HPS (High Profile Supporter), to address the plight of refugees and generally creating awareness around that.

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You speak very passionately about women issues. What drives this passion?

My passion for women stems from what I have been through myself, including bullying and miscarriage. Highlighting women’s wants and needs is something I feel very highly about, especially after going through my own personal therapy and healing my trauma. After losing my dad at 6 years old and my brother at 17 years old, I had to go through deep personal healing to get to where I am.

In my view, the more women know, the more they can help themselves and help their communities. That is why I started the What Women Want program.

When you speak of healing, how do you think women can help themselves heal and overcome trauma?

First of all, I want to bash the idea that therapy and counselling is expensive. In my line of work I have met different mental health advocates like Senator Mueni Kasanga, and engaged with professional mental health care givers in facilities like the Mathari Hospital.

When I was young, I remember reading books and seeking knowledge on the topic of healing to help me overcome my trauma. Mental wellness and healing goes down to being intentional about it and making conscious decisions towards healing. I can advise anyone struggling with mental health to just be intentional about it.

What would you say is the most rewarding part of your job?

I remember when I shared the story of my mother’s stroke, somebody sent me a message that they were about to commit suicide but didn’t because they saw the story. We live in a world where we are competing for numbers, but for me it’s that one story, that one life that I touch. I feel like if we are able to touch and impact just one life in a positive way with what we say or do, then we are able to make a huge difference.

You are also a mom and a wife. Tell us a bit about that. How is marriage and motherhood for you?

Marriage is awesome. I am so glad that I did not rush. I actually got married in my early thirties, but my husband and I had been dating in our twenties. My husband and I have been through the bad and the ugly, but the beauty of it is that we always emerge stronger and we are always in tandem with each other. We are also very aware that we are in this for the long run, and are very intentional on making things work for ourselves and our children.

This, however, is not to mean that if your marriage doesn’t work you are a bad person. I feel like it is important to understand that marriage really is not for everyone. And this goes back to being intentional. People have to be intentional on creating the best environment for themselves, their partners and their children.

Motherhood is amazing as well. It is very humbling (chuckles). I love to see my kids blossom into who they want to be. Children belong to the world, and they are giving themselves in their entirety. I am just glad that I get to play the role of a guider as they grow into their own people.

Having gone through grief and loss at such a young age, is there a particular life event hat completely altered your perspective in life?

(Sighs) Yes. When my mother got a stroke. It made me understand and appreciate self-love. It may sound easy, but the journey towards self-love is difficult. I have also learned to put up boundaries with myself and my loved ones and become very present for myself, my husband, my kids, and my work. I Have had a few life changing events, but my mom’s stroke I would say is the biggest one so far.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I am very much into Yoga practice. I t has really helped me to take out both the physical and emotional, helping me become the woman I an today.

So, what’s next for Pinky? What should we expect?

There is a lot planned up for me. I am debating on how public I want to go, but as far as I am concerned, I will keep helping people as much as I can. Where I am asked to serve, I will serve with honor and grace. I can’t say much else for now, but Kenyans should definitely expect much more from me.

In your many years of experience in media and in the limelight, what is your advice for the younger generation?

6 things. One, Tomorrow needs you. Two, do not be complacent. Three, Invest in yourself, your children and in your financial future. Four, spend time with your parents and the older generation, as there is so much to learn from them. Five, use your voice to speak up against vices, injustices and things you do not stand for. If you are uncomfortable, speak it and voice it. Finally, never ever feel bad for putting yourself first.

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