The more I get to know Mohini Singh, the more I admire and respect her.
Mohini first became a household name in our Okanagan Valley as a radio and TV broadcaster. She was always compassionate when she reported on our friends and neighbours who were facing both trying times or extra good times. Mohini was attracted to journalism by the opportunities it created to walk into the lives of others and tell stories. Quick to recognize the power of the press and its impact on both subject and audience, she realized the responsibilities that came with story telling. She talks fondly of the personal relationships she established, particularly with indigenous people.
In 2011, Mohini was elected to Kelowna City Council. Now in her second term, it is a strong sense of service that motivates her to do the best she can for her community. She is particularly pleased that there is so much diversity on Council, a reflection of Kelowna’s inclusiveness. A key focus for her is sustaining our vibrant agricultural sector and protecting farmers while catering to people living nearby.
Born in Hyderabad, India, raised in Delhi, she immigrated at the age of twenty-two to Vancouver with her mother, a nurse, and her sister. At the time of her marriage, Mohini was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She decided to adopt a child and in 2006 travelled to Kolkata, India, for that purpose. That was a turning point for her. When they picked up her daughter Tara, a small boy, with obvious medical challenges, clung to her husband’s legs saying: “Take me home.” Sadly, this was not permitted, but it manifested in Mohini an irresistible calling to global service. She established a charity to provide medical treatment and educational training for abandoned and destitute children in Kolkata. East Meets West now has three projects in India, and one more in-the-works. She visited these sites again in December 2016. Mohini is proud of the five Okanagan women who today provide “very solid” support on the Board. Over the years, the Kelowna based charity has expanded to serve local needs by supporting Starbright Children’s Development Center and KARIS Kelowna for moms caught in addiction, as well as the Intercultural Women’s Education Network (IWEN) in Nepal. While all this was going on, Mohini was a volunteer at the Kelowna Women’s Shelter and was instrumental in helping many women get back on their feet. She also helped establish a website to educate and warn backcountry skiers about the dangers of avalanche.
In 2008, in recognition of her global and local service, she received the Order of British Columbia, and in 2008 and 2010 was recognized locally as Woman of the Year for her outstanding contributions to the well-being of the City of Kelowna. She is also a very proud recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.
I was beginning to think Mohini couldn’t possibly fit anything else into her life, so no point my asking about hobbies or other work. Boy was I wrong! “Did you know” she said “I am currently Co-Campaign Chair (with Kelowna firefighter Jason Picklyk) for All Kids Matter”? The recent goal was to raise $45,000 towards Autism research; they successfully raised $115,000. Additionally, she works as Communications Officer for the BC Ministry of Agriculture. Pottery is her hobby and she’ll be glazing two lamps any day now. Busy lady is an understatement!
Mohini’s eyes light up the most when she talks about her daughter, who has just turned seventeen. She and Tara live together along with their Sheltie-Cross Sarah. “I love to just hang out with Tara, especially watching movies and eating popcorn!” I could really feel the passion and drive of this extraordinary lady, who talks openly of living with M.S. She tries not to let it limit her, but there are things her body won’t let her do. “I want to do more than I can.” Travel has special challenges for Mohini, but she and Tara enjoyed a December holiday in Cuba.
She tells stories to raise the social conscience, especially of those who can help less fortunate, marginalized children. She is grateful to the students of Anne McClymont Elementary, who recently raised $2,500 to expand housing for forty orphans in India.
As we close our chat, Mohini stresses that her successes are shared by all the people who become involved and support her causes in many ways. Inspired by Mother Theresa: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”, Mohini believes that together we can move mountains!