In the eleventh interview of the Desi Divorce Discussion series, let’s meet Laila, a lawyer who was raised in Dubai but found herself a single parent after moving to India. Not only was everything different – country, people, culture, but she found herself navigating her new life phase as a single parent all by herself. What did she do next? She created a community for people like her. Listen to this episode to know the details of her journey.
One of my earliest guests on the podcast appreciated the work Laila was doing in supporting single parents through her initiative, The Village for Single Parents. Keen to know more, I started following their Instagram handle and recognised how Laila’s efforts to provide support for single parents was making a big difference to lives of so many single-parent families. I was keen to have her on my podcast and was thrilled when we were able to find a mutually convenient time to connect.
Although Laila came from a very supportive family that encouraged her and her siblings to always be financially independent, when she moved to India with her young child, she had to recreate a new life for both of them, particularly when her marriage ended. Figuring out a new life phase in a familiar city is one thing but to do it an unknown city/country was something that Laila says completely broke her. Yet, it was also an opportunity that allowed her to literally rebuild herself the hard way.
The loneliness of her journey and the encouragement of a friend who seeded the thought that she could create the community she was seeking, helped her launch the Village for Single Parents. The Village provides a safe space for friendship, community and networking in a judgement-free zone. Laila intentionally restricts her support group to desi/brown people because she has seen firsthand how the experiences of divorced women in this demographic are different from their counterparts from other countries.
In India, the systemic struggles are massive and the stigma plays out in overt and covert ways, preventing people from moving on. Even for desi women living abroad, the problem of social acceptance within the desi community makes life very difficult and isolating. By providing a community where people get your struggle and sit with you as you handle your situation and manage your pain, Laila has made it possible for many to find the strength to get on with their new life with greater confidence.
Here are some of Laila’s suggestions for women with children considering the life of a single parent:
- Accept that your life will be different – from your previous life with a partner and from those of others.
- Don’t take your responsibility as a custodial parent lightly. It’s difficult and you have to become the sole role model for your child
- Upgrade and emancipate yourself. It’s OK to have murderous thoughts but always, always try to be better than your thoughts
Laila is super busy, extremely focused and committed to what she has started. You can find The Village for Single parents on Instagram. A website is coming soon – stay tuned.
Whether you are thinking about divorce, have left an unhappy marriage or are curious about how women fare after divorce, do listen and let me know your thoughts.
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