Lija Joseph is a hematopathologist at Boston University School of Medicine in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. She completed her medical school training at St. John’s Medical College in India, which is a medical school affiliated with the Catholic community. After her post graduate training in pathology at Trivandrum Medical College, she moved to the US. Her residency training in pathology was at University of Missouri, Columbia and fellowship training in hematology at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Her family moved to Boston in 2004. As a faculty at the medical school, she was involved with teaching medical , dental and graduate students on the medical school campus. She also participate in basic science research on campus.
When and how did you get involved in Saheli?
I learned about Saheli through lokvani. I met Chitra, one of Lokvani’s founding members at a friend’s house. After hearing about Lokvani, I subscribed online. The first issue that I read online had an article about Gouri Banerjee, who was awarded the woman of the year. I read all about her work with Saheli, and called her to ask if I could participate in any way. She was most welcoming requesting me to help with computer classes at the Cambridge public library.
What drives you to help and volunteer for a group like Saheli ?
I believe that there is a purpose for every human life beyond the ”daily grind’. Being a catholic, is instrumental in my commitment toward issues that concern social justice. All my life, I have watched family and friends commit acts of kindness that left a mark in my mind. I am fortunate to be married to someone who supports me in my mission. As a family, we participate in activities at the catholic church in Newton Center and in a small community in Dorchester, served by the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Teresa
Are you involved in any special initiative at Saheli ? What is your role?
I am the coordinator of healthcare portfolio for Saheli. This involves coordinating programs that support the overall, physical, mental and emotional heath and well being of anyone who seeks such support from Saheli.
As a dedicated volunteer what would you tell someone who would like to join the group.
There are many opportunities to volunteer in this group. Please take a look at the website, come to a few meetings at the Burlington Public Library on second Saturdays of the month at 2 PM. See if there is an area of interest that you would like to contribute. Certainly the joy of giving is worth the effort
Finally how do you balance work, family and service in your daily life ?
This is always a difficult question to answer. I have a few paradigms that help me. I accept that I am not a superwoman. I have a very supportive group of friends that I call for help when I need them. I am available to them when they need me. My husband and children support me in my work. At work, I function with the thought that every moment that I am away from my family is a moment, I should be spending in worthwhile activities. This keeps me focused and on a daily basis reminds me that I should do the best I can with my time. My faith helps me stay grounded and find priorities that may not always be ‘conventional’. I try to attend a catholic mass daily or as often as I can. I do find time to take music lessons from Durga Krishnan at Learnquest and find time for exercise. Even if it is not a lot, finding a few hours a week that is “mine”, helps me to “give” better. ----------------------------------------------------------------------
Saheli's current initiatives - Seema Shenoy who also is part of Saheli shared some of the most recent initiatives of the group.
Support Group: SAHELI recently started a support group for women which meets once a month, every third Wednesday in the Burlington Public Library. This group gives an opportunity to women to share and discuss their experiences and get to know each other. From a small group of 9 women, three months ago, the support group now has twenty one members.
SAHELI reaches out to women overseas: We have also reached across the borders and helped women in India. We are building a good relationship with the Indian Consulate in NY to provide some financial assistance to needy women in distress who have been deserted by their overseas Indian spouses for obtaining counseling and legal services.
SAHELI Computer Literacy Classes: SAHELI computer literacy classes in Cambridge were temporarily stopped after many years due to the construction in the Cambridge library. This program had been very successful in the past. Not wanting to give up, SAHELI, worked hard for two months to get another location and reach out to the people who could really benefit from the program. The Computer Classes are now held in the Waltham Library, every Wednesday. 21 students enrolled and we have many on the waiting list. The Waltham Library Staff also helped SAHELI reach out to the people. We have a group of dedicated Volunteer teachers who have made this program so very successful.
President Abdul Kalam received the Hoover Medal at Columbia University. It is America's most prestigious engineering prize for service to humanity. Former winners of the Hoover Medal have included presidents Carter and Hoover.