Priyanka Chaudhary Raina’s 10th floor apartment in Amsterdam is done up in quintessential Scandinavian shades of white and beige, and is flooded with sunlight. Having lived in the Dutch capital for a decade working in risk management for a global bank, Priyanka is accustomed to an organised existence, fresh air, her hot-yoga classes and watching live football, especially when Brazil or Spain play.
Her husband, Suresh, too enjoys cycling anonymously on the city streets, or cooking up meals for them both and their year-old daughter Gracia.
But there is much work to be done in India. The sense of responsibility that comes with having a baby made Priyanka acutely aware of the privileges she had and the lack of them for most Indian mothers.
And so, when their daughter turned one year old, the couple announced the launch of Gracia Raina Foundation (GRF) in her name to create awareness about maternal health, and to work closely with mothers and children on their physical and mental health issues.
And now Priyanka is committed to the cause.
Tall and elegant, Priyanka has the self-contained demeanour of a professional who is at ease in the hot-seat. Born in Ghaziabad, near Delhi, Priyanka’s father worked with the central government, and Priyanka and her two brothers had a sheltered childhood. After completing her engineering, Priyanka was picked through campus placement for a position in Wipro, Bengaluru. In less than a year, she got a job at ING bank, and moved to Holland.
The wedding bells rang a few years on. She had known Suresh Raina since they were 10 years old, way before he became one of India’s most proficient batsmen and an international celebrity. Soon after their 2015 wedding, they set up a home in Delhi, and their baby Gracia was born a year later.
Motherhood changed Priyanka’s priorities completely.
“I felt bad when I realized that most women in India don’t have access to the same healthcare and emotional support that I did, and how much a pregnant woman or a new mother really needs it,” says the 31-year-old.
“The aim of GRF is to support maternal and newborn wellness, while also providing opportunities for a sustainable livelihood,” explains Priyanka, who is currently overseeing the setting up of a wellness centre in Delhi, a kind of ‘happy zone’ and knowledge platform for expecting mothers and young kids.
“The idea is to empower, engage and facilitate women by enhancing their capabilities. Our model is one of creative collaboration,” adds the software engineer.
They’ve also sponsored the education of five girl students from Meerut. “My wife has been working very hard towards this and has put in a lot of time and effort,” vouches Suresh, who is training for IPL 2018. “With this foundation we hope to shed light and help women and babies across the country.”
Priyanka, in the meantime, is already in talks with a dietitian and a Dutch midwife to give expert advice to underprivileged mothers, and is working on a digital solution to create awareness about maternal health in rural areas. There’s not a moment to waste.