Yasmeen Maqbool, an all-time softie is the Features Editor of Filmfare ME, Salt ‘n’ Peppa and Femina ME. Her passion lies in telling stories about people who do what they do because it matters.
She finds herself constantly breaking the mold and rather unconventionally at that. Her burning desire to be instrumental in changing the lives of almost 30 street children, for better and self- sustainable living, is what drives Lissy Donald. She is a simple, ordinary woman who thinks of more than just herself. She strives to take that extra step and go above and beyond.
Coming from humble beginnings in Kerala, Lissy has come a long way, from becoming the managing director of a travel company to running a charitable trust called Heavenly Mission, that is home to almost 30 rescued children since October 2006.
Being a multi-faceted woman – a wife, a mother, an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, a relationship counsellor, a leadership coach and a motivational speaker, Lissy has her roots in a remote village, Micace, in Kerala where she grew up on a farm with her four siblings.
She witnessed her mother cook for hundreds of people working in the fields, day in and day out. And right from her early days, Lissy was always inclined to help those around her, be it her mother in the kitchen or her dad in the farms.
Unlike her sisters, school and studies did not fascinate her. “I was constantly compared to them for my academic performance, which made me believe that I wasn’t good enough,” says Lissy, feeling not so proud.
Though, neither of her parents had graduated from high school, her father was very particular about his children’s academics and wanted all of them to make a name for themselves.
Lissy completed her formal education in hospitality, event management and travel and tourism and was fortunate enough to have found her soul mate in Donald, with whom she has raised three wonderful kids, Amona, Adhik and Abrianna.
Lissy admits that the journey has been long, “I was always conscious of my dreams and aspirations, but could never compromise my dear ones’ happiness to fulfill my own.”
As a young executive in Chennai, seeing the underprivileged kids always made her extremely uncomfortable. “It would break my heart to see little kids with dirty, torn clothes and no shoes, just wiling away time or begging.”
She would give them money when her purse allowed her to, but soon realized that this was not an answer to end their misery. “I realized that the next logical step was to try and educate them – making their young, impressionable minds positive and hopeful.” So, once Lissy had the resources she started the Heavenly Mission in a small barrack in Chennai on 24th October 2006.
Most of the children rescued were from the roadside, or victims of slavery and human trafficking, Lissy points out. Today, at Heavenly Mission these kids are given the care, attention and skill development opportunities which will help shape their bright futures. Moreover, just recently, the trust was able to lay the foundation stone for a home for these kids.
Lissy feels she is one of them, when she is with them. “There is no class or age barrier,” she says. It is important for them to relate to her, as only then will they resonate on a similar wave length and connect.
She advises “her children” to be
Lissy admits that she would love to spend more time with the kids in Chennai, to be a true mom to them.
Moreover, Lissy always motivates girls and women around her to come out of their shells, pursue a career and concentrate on their future rather than dwelling on their past. She motivates women with the wisdom that she has
gained over the years.
“I want to help them develop a skill that will make them proud of themselves and make me proud too. Obviously it will help them earn a decent livelihood too. I feel it’s imperative for me to instill a sense of pride in these kids. I want my kids to believe in themselves and in me. I want them to believe that I will always be there for them, should they need me.”