Toronto: ’An Uncensored Life’ published by HarperCollins and authored by veteran journalist Farida Master is a compelling biography of Zerbanoo Gifford, a human rights campaigner, philanthropist, women’s champion, author and founder of the ground-breaking international ASHA Centre in Gloucestershire, England. Zerbanoo and Farida will make a pit stop in Toronto sometime in May as a part of their world tour to promote the book.
Born in India, Zerbanoo moved to London at the age of four. In her early thirties as a young mother she chaired committees, advised political leaders and was the first Asian woman to stand for Parliament, having made history earlier when elected to Harrow Town Council.
In her journey to find and fight for the causes she found worthwhile, Zerbanoo has overcome racial attacks, political disenchantment, even fought legal battles against the authorities. Add to that exciting mix a near-death experience, and you’ve Zerbanoo’s gripping story.
The book was first launched at the Times LitFest where celebrated writer Vikram Seth’s mum Leila Seth, the first woman judge and chief justice of a state in India introduced the author and her ‘subject’ on stage and conducted a Q & A.
Farida says of the warm reception that the book received in India, “We had several book readings with different audiences that included business women’s groups, university students and a public event hosted by a newspaper, apart from grand book parties hosted by Phiroza Godrej and Dr Cyrus Poonawalla.”
Over the last decade and a half Zerbanoo has been associated with the Lila Poonawalla Foundation in India founded by Lila Poonawalla to help underprivileged girls with further education.
Zerbanoo has sponsored the brilliant but economically disadvantaged girls through the ASHA Centre in Britain (http://www.ashacentre.org).
Farida says, “The last time we were in India we spoke to them and it was truly a rewarding experience watching the girls who have blossomed and are engineers and programmers.”
Zerbanoo has also worked with the Gujjar community in India empowering tribal women, suppressed in society. Zerbanoo asked them what they really wanted and they said it was not sewing machines but buffaloes that would help them with their livelihood. Zerbanoo fundraised and ensured that the women earned their own livelihood. She helped change the equation.
Zerbanoo who strongly believes in the Power of Now is the kind of person who drops everything and gets involved right away never mind which part of the world people are crying for help.
Writer/journalist and Zerbanoo’s biographer, Farida Master, who lives in New Zealand, who will accompany Zerbanoo during her visit to Toronto, says, “We are looking forward to our North America trip. We have lots to share with the people there on our journey and how Zerbanoo is doing everything to make a difference in the lives of the Indian girl child.”
Those interested in hosting or otherwise interacting with Zerbanoo or Farida (in Toronto from May 25 till May 30), can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org