Breaking Taboos and Building Empowerment

Discover the vision that sparked Goa’s groundbreaking centre for women’s health and wellbeing, Svãy

In the journey of breaking taboos and building empowerment for women’s health, let us remember Nelson Mandela’s words, “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Neha and the Svãy team exemplify the power of persistence and vision in transforming the landscape of women’s well-being in Goa.

Neha Gaurav Naik Khaunte, a young visionary in the field of psychology, embarked on a mission to address the unmet needs of women’s health in Goa. Her journey, culminating in the establishment of Svãy, the first of its kind center for women’s health, is a testament to her dedication and perseverance.

Neha’s childhood and educational background laid the foundation for her passion for understanding and supporting others. Born in Margao, she pursued her education in Goa before venturing into the realm of psychology. Armed with a B.A. in Psychology from Pune University; she further specialised in Clinical Psychology with an M.A. from St. Xaviers College, Mapusa, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Guidance and Counselling from Nirmala Institute, Panaji. Neha embarked on a journey of discovery and service. Her professional journey saw her working with various institutions, including Disha, a school for special children, and Childline, where she enhanced her skills in addressing critical issues affecting individuals. It was during this time that Neha’s personal experience ignited the spark for Svãy.

The genesis of Svãy arose from Neha’s personal experience with postpartum depression. The lack of understanding around such issues led her to establish Svãy to address the physical and mental health needs of women. Svãy stands out by fostering a community where women share experiences, breaking the silence around topics like postpartum depression, breastfeeding challenges, pelvic floor, dyspareunia, vaginismus, stress incontinence, urge incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse and pelvic pain. “There are issues which may be experienced by a lot of women but are too ashamed to come forward to talk about it or some may not even be aware that treatment is available for these issues”, Neha pointed out.

Svãy aims to provide knowledge about women’s health issues and offers a holistic approach to wellness. The team, comprising of Neha herself, Prutha Pai (Lactation Consultant/Prenatal Yoga Teacher), Dr. Sudini Borkar (Physiotherapist OBG/Pelvic Floor Therapist) and Nikisha Shetye (Nutritionist) empowers women to connect with themselves and create a supportive community. Svãy brings forth the importance of prioritising women’s health for the benefit of families and communities. Emphasising the need to change the narrative that often expects women to put others first, Neha elaborates, “From the time we conceive, we are told to eat for the baby in our belly. And eventually after we deliver, we literally do everything for our children and our family. In this bargain we have forgotten to take care of ourselves. We have forgotten to attend to our physical and more importantly our mental health. We tend to neglect our health and our happiness for that of our family. At Svãy, we want to change this age-old narrative. We want women to put themselves first. We want them to be physically fit and mentally healthy which will naturally lead to them taking better care of their families and community at large. We aren’t telling them to be selfish but we are urging women to take a moment and introspect about their health, their feelings, and their happiness and ultimately do what is needed to make themselves healthy and happy in all aspects.”

Svãy offers tailored plans for adolescents, pre-conception, pregnancy, and menopause. The services include education on puberty, managing conditions like PCOD and endometriosis, nutritional guidance, breastfeeding support, and mental health care. Different packages cater to various stages, ensuring accessibility and affordability. The Svãy team, having personally experienced many of the addressed issues, strives to provide a safe, non-judgmental space for women to express themselves. Clients are assured of being heard, understood, and guided towards solutions or the right professionals, fostering a supportive environment. Svãy faces challenges such as a lack of awareness and confidentiality concerns in a close-knit community like Goa. The team combats these challenges through active social media presence, collaborations, and awareness programs in schools and corporates. When asked about the future plans for Svãy in terms of expansion and introducing new services, Neha says, “Svay being a woman centric centre we are focused on women’s health and that is something we will never dither from. However we plan on expanding Svay and eventually we see Svay as the all-encompassing women and child health centre where we hope to have more experts such as sexual health educators, Birthing experts, Doulas, Child Therapists, Child sleep experts, Yoga Teachers and Holistic Therapists to name a few to be a part of Svay. Our possibilities are never ending. The world is changing and we are here to give as much as possible under one roof. There is so much to offer and much more to explore but our core will always remain women and child health and wellness. Although we are young and just learning to spread our wings we have the passion and the grit to make this happen because we come from a very pure space of love and empathy”.

As the saying goes, “When you educate a man, you educate an individual, but when you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” Neha has underscored the importance of patience and persistence in bringing about a change in mindset. She encourages individuals to focus on spreading awareness, answering crucial questions about the benefits of their services, and consistently pursuing their goals. Collaboration, not competition, is key in building a community dedicated to women’s well-being. Neha’s passion, coupled with the collaborative efforts of the Svãy team, signifies a promising future for women’s health in the region. As they continue to empower and educate, Svãy stands as a beacon for positive change in women’s lives.

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