Love For The Mama chats to Stand for Humanity aka Yasmin Autwal
I get to introduce you to not someone I met on Instagram but someone I met when I was 11 years old at school. Yasmin and I were both girls then and though we don't want to admit that we have grown up, I am so proud of the amazing woman she has become. (Yazzie is what I call her, so I will refer to her as that.) Yazzie has always been a passionate human being, anything she puts her mind to, her body and soul follows and she always succeeds. But I want to bring your attention to the movement that Yazzie has begun called Stand for Humanity. I will let her do the talking on what it is but her compassion for others, talks, visits to refugee camps and blog inspires so many people. Yazzie raises awareness of how we can help people in need such as refugees, how we can act and how it doesn't have to be complicated; it doesn't have to be unreachable! Yazzie was one of the reasons I decided to give to charity through my t-shirts, so here you have the loving Yazzie Autwal...
1. Tell us what is Stand for Humanity?
Stand for Humanity is a movement that was born off the back of the climatic year of 2016 and the current state of the world. I've only ever understood the world right from young, as a place that we all live in together, that there is no separation from one human being to another - that's it, nothing crazy or complicated, and it feels like it's time now more than ever that we ALL remember this. Unity and love through action are the only things that are going to help us through the shifts we are currently seeing. Our children will be growing up in this generation, and whilst they are the future, WE are the present, and we've got work to do.
2. Why did you set it up?
I have always had this sense and understanding of oneness being Sikh, and have been involved in projects to help others from a young age, but I was also inspired by my recent venture in volunteering in the refugee crisis over the last 18 months. I couldn't go on feeling the pain so intensely and doing nothing with it or about it. I headed off to the camps on my first weekend, with no training, no experience and not even a buddy to go with, and have been going ever since. I found the first year really hard and I had to deal with lots of my own projections i.e. "why don't people care? why aren't they helping?" and I later realised that people DO care, they just don't know how what to do / feel so overwhelmed that they become helpless, so Stand for Humanity aims to change that. I've been taking my talks around the country and I share with people various things - a mix up of what I do through coaching, stories from refugee camps, a reminder of what we, as the top 10% of people on the planet, can do. And then I ask people to think about 1 thing they care about outside of their circle, something that they wouldn't necessarily be involved in through work / friends / family, and to make a pledge to do ONE thing in that area with a date that they will have the action done by. I give out cards for people to write these on and then ask them to upload to social media with the hashtag #standforhumanity so that I can keep track of them and in turn they can also inspire someone else. Loving harder is loving through action. It helps to tackle this stagnant apathy that is currently present; once you start taking action no matter HOW small and start seeing and feeling for yourself the changes that come out of simply putting your energy somewhere positively for the benefit of OTHERS, there is no limit to what we can do with that together.
3.You have done a lot of work in the refugee camps in France, do you ever feel beaten by what you can do or achieve when you see the sadness and depth of the problem refugees face at this time?
Disheartened or frustrated - yes, heartbroken and devastated at times - sure, but never, ever beaten. On some of the bad days, like when the Dubs act got scrapped, which meant that the 3000 kids the UK government promised to take in just got dumped, or when the camps in Calais got demolished, or just the other week when a fire broke out in Dunkirk and wiped out 80% of the camp where 1500 people were living, I genuinely feel a pain that makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry for hours. And sometimes I do that, just so that it's released from me (and I encourage everyone to take time for that no matter what it is that you're facing). And yet every time, the thing that gets me back on my feet, is remembering the love and strength from EVERY SINGLE refugee that I have met. They know what it is to LOVE truly, unconditionally. They know what it is to still love humans when they have been so mistreated, by humanity. They have taught me what it is to love unconditionally. And for as long as I live I will never be beaten by fear or hate, when I have seen, lived and breathed what humans are REALLY made of. They make me proud to call myself human too.
4. In the last 2 years, you have become a life coach? What type of people do you help?
I have been a life coach for over 2 years now and been in the psychology field for over 10 and yet it's something I've known that I was meant to do before I even knew what a 'job' was. I can't call it just a job as it's my absolute life purpose. I work with just about anyone - someone that has been on anti depressants for 10+ years, to someone who just isn't getting enough from themselves. There is no discriminating criteria, other than they have to be ready to make changes and invest in themselves. I then throw myself in 1000% and the journey begins, it's such an honour to be a part of someone's development and not something I take lightly and I always end up having a take home life lesson for myself too.
5. Who inspires you?
I have so many inspirations it's hard to pick! I genuinely feel inspired daily, and it can be anything, from catching a smile with a stranger to a beautiful sunset or simply hearing a snippet of birdsong, I literally get blown away by the world from just walking to my local corner shop sometimes! So I guess I would say my main inspirations are people and the earth.
I was in the Philippines back in Feb and I had one of the richest months of my life. Whenever I am in the real world, outside of this western fantasy that we live in, I am at my best, my most inspired and powerful. I draw up on the energy of the planet and I feel it running through me. I live like the people wherever I am travelling, I don't stay in hotels or villas, I stay in treehouses or bamboo huts and live as they do. They remind me of what it is to really be human. Living off the land and love. Whenever I'm having a hard day I tap back into that, and it gives me the strength and serves as a reminder that we can DO and BE anything. My friends from refugee camps also reflect that and they are (and I feel always will be) my strongest inspiration.
I also get incredibly inspired by women and mothers - even those that I don't know! There is just something about the magic that lives in a woman that is undeniable to me and it makes me want to grow more, be better and help bring us together.
Oh and Beyonce has been inspiring me since I was 8 - I'll casually throw that one in there.
6. I know your goals have never been money and we know money doesn't make people happy. It helps of course but what would you say to someone who's focus is based on monetary values?
Personally I haven't ever been driven by money (I'm not even being righteous or moral, I've just always had a 'bigger picture' mentality and money was never a driving force in that), and ever since I was a kid I'd just call out things that were not real. Pieces of paper with peoples heads on it, is most definitely not real and digital numbers on a computer screen, even less so! I don't believe in judging people who are money driven though, that's up to them. There are lessons for everyone on this, and lets not forget that we've been around a lot longer than money has. What's more important? That's for us to individually choose and figure out. I personally don't believe in being driven by anything other than what is real and true.
7. What are your aspirations for Stand for Humanity?
My aspirations and visions for Stand for Humanity are limitless!! I aim to take the talks globally, to get involved in bigger campaigns, to get groups of people mobilised and making change - and it's already happening! Most importantly though I want other people to just feel free to get in touch with an idea and see where we can take it. It's everyone's project, not just mine - we're all a part of humanity.
Excitingly, I have just announced the first event happening in London on Sat May 20th - it's set to be an incredible night of coming together for a wider purpose, for humanity, with hands down some of the best talent in London (yep I'm calling it) and all funds raised will go to helping refugees. Tickets are available here! *shameless plug* https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/myprofile/?oid=13640802867
8. What do you love doing in your spare time?
Ahh spare time! I love to travel. It keeps me closest to myself.
I love to dance, I feel completely free when I'm just letting music move me.
Being a writer, I love to write. Whether it's in diary form or poetry or prose, it's like therapy for me. It's also a way for me to channel ideas, as well as a way to process and remember things. Especially when life is so fast paced, I love to savour special moments by taking the time to write them down.
Swimming in the sea. Chlorine filled pools don't quite do it for me in the same way but I live in London so in desperate times I give in to them.
Hanging with my wonderful and growing tribe and creating. I feel so strongly about everyone creating. KIDS!! I love, love children, of all ages, and there is nothing more grounding for me than hanging out with a 4 year old having chats about life and the world, from their perspective. Beats listening to the logic of balding old men destroying our world on the news any day!