Community campaigner inspiring others

387. Muna Chauhan (Coventry)

A Coventry community campaigner who empowers young people and women from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds to get involved in volunteering.

Muna Chauhan, 46, has engaged over 200 women and young people and encouraged them to actively give back to the local community. She also devotes her time to a number of causes including Hindu Council UK, Coventry Interfaith Network and other local, national and International charities.

In 2009, Muna set up an initiative to help women from Hindu, Indian and wider BAME communities take up a greater role in the public and voluntary sector. Muna felt that women from differing backgrounds were often underrepresented and overlooked in this area, and came up with a strategy to overcome this. The support initiative combines philanthropy with socialising for women of diverse cultures and backgrounds, regularly providing mentoring opportunities, networking events and workshops. Muna’s work has engaged and empowered over 100 women from BAME backgrounds to take up voluntary roles in the local community, building up a strong network.

Through Hindu Council UK, Muna has taken the lead on a project which helps young people volunteer, providing them with key transferable skills from campaigning and fundraising work. The project has engaged over 100 students so far, many of whom are still active in volunteering. As well as encouraging others to volunteer, Muna herself has helped raise over £5 million pounds for various international development charities and non governmental organisations (NGOs), and volunteered for other community organisations such as Myton Hospice and the British Heart Foundation. She is also involved in international humanitarian work, volunteering in countries abroad that have been hit by natural disasters and other crises.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Muna has not only dedicated her time to raise a fantastic amount of money for the causes she supports, she has also empowered over 200 young people and women to get involved in volunteering and seeing the difference they can make. By inspiring others to take action Muna has had an impact in more than just her own community, and I am delighted to recognise her as the UK’s 387th Point of Light.”

Muna said:

“I have always been passionate about women empowerment and youth development and strongly committed to supporting the development of unrepresented people and helping them to gain valuable life experience through volunteering activities. In everything that I do, I always passionately believe that it is an individual’s duty and privilege as a human being to serve our society.

“My greatest guiding influence in life has been Mahatma Gandhi who was a beacon of hope and whose tireless faith and devotion to humanity touched the lives of many people. Gandhi’s principles of non-violence, thinking about others who are less fortunate than you and that the whole world is one family has inspired me, in particular his world famous quote: “be the change you want to see in the world”, which I have adopted as my own real-life principle.”

Umesh C Sharma: Chairman of Hindu Council UK said:

“Within every individual lies the desire and capacity to create positive change…Muna is one such individual who has made this happen. She is a role model and inspiration for the Indian community as well as the whole of the UK and is worthy of recognition at the highest level for her determination, dedication, devotion, compassion and commitment to voluntary, charitable and community services.

“Muna is a community ‘Champion’ and an exemplary public servant both professionally and in the voluntary sector, who continually helps build communities to make a positive difference to life in the UK and has shown what can be achieved with passion, determination and selfless service”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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