The journey so far ……
This year with the beginning of a new decade Saroni has christened her ‘Diversity, Sustainability and Social Justice’ initiatives with the Saroni Roy Foundation. Saroni Roy Foundation (SRf) is a social enterprise that perpetuates social, economic and environmental well-being, creating a more peaceful and inclusive ‘one world’ to live and love.
In the year 2018 Saroni was awarded the Ms India Australia Goodwill Ambassador title at the Miss/Mrs/Mr India Australia beauty pageant organised by Miss India Australia Corporation, for her contribution to social causes. As a prelude to the commemoration of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi last year, on 5th of October 2018, Saroni assisted Dr. Partha Gangopadhyay, Executive Director, Mahatma Gandhi Research Centre, India & Associate Professor, School of Business, Western Sydney University, in conducting the International Peace, Security and Development workshop, in Western Sydney University, Parramatta. As a keynote speaker and presenter at the workshop Saroni spoke on ‘The role of film and modern media in perpetuating peace’. Saroni along with Professor Partha did a video interview with Stephen Killelea AM, Founder, Institute for Economics and Peace, to be screened at the workshop.
Since then Saroni has worked with several international world peace NGOs, National Gandhi Museum India, multi-cultural community organisations and government officials in Australia, and hosted a series of initiatives to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th Birth Anniversary last year, to perpetuate diversity, inter-faith dialogue & communication, peace and inclusiveness.
“As an actor and connoisseur of the arts, I truly believe that art is a platform that showcases and also weaves together diverse cultures. It transcends all barriers, it doesn't conform to the limitations of language, faith, geography, race or nationality. If we look at some of the diverse ethnicities that participate in these initiatives, including members of the Arts & Entertainment industry, many of us, have experienced war and conflict in our homeland. Art & artists, are therefore an integral catalyst in uniting people, celebrating our rich cultural heritage, and perpetuating a culture of peace and harmony.”
Last year Saroni received the ‘Peace Ambassador’ award by International Women’s Peace Group (IWPG), for her continued efforts and contribution as a volunteer, towards the community. Supported by community volunteers, multi-cultural organisations, NGOs, the Consulate General of India in Sydney, City of Parramatta Council and Western Sydney University, Saroni was an integral part of the ‘Mahatma-150’ core team, a conglomeration of individuals from different walks of life and expertise in various field of work with a common goal to perpetuate and celebrate the peace icon, Mahatma Gandhi’s values, teachings and his 150th Birth Anniversary.
In the face of the bushfire catastrophe in Australia, Saroni conducted a donation drive, ‘Gift of Giving Back to the Community’ at TAFE NSW, Strathfield. The proceeds went to the Addison Road Community Centre Food Pantry, committed to supporting social justice, environment conservation, fair trade, community solidarity, the homeless and the less-privileged, living in Australia.
Some initiatives Saroni has contributed to so far……
I AM WOMAN and DESERVE ME
Saroni collaborated with Indian-origin Australian artist, Amritha Shakti for two of her recent music videos – I AM WOMAN and DESERVE ME. I AM WOMAN, a music video released on International Women’s Day this year, features women from various walks of life and ethnic background, who have overcome massive challenges life threw at them. In Saroni’s case it was Cancer, the others have experienced struggles such as domestic abuse & violence, patriarchy, disability, ostracised by the society and many more. Visually and through its lyrics, ‘Deserve Me’ explores what feminism, mainstream beauty, and self-love looks like for a woman of colour in today’s world. The music video features 30 Australian women of Pakistani, Indian, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi, and Nepalese descent celebrating their sisterhood and collective identity. Dressed in outfits and performing classical art that honours their heritage, these women harness their power and sense of belonging against the backdrop of modern Australia. Everyone who worked on the ‘Deserve Me’ video –crew, cast and artists – are all people of colour, making the project an authentic one that applauds diversity and representation in the arts.
Peace Ambassador, IWPG (International Women’s Peace Group)
in 2019, Saroni was appointed as the Peace Ambassador by IWPG (International Women’s Peace Group), a non-denominational NGO, registered with the UN ECOSOC and UN DGC, and was integral to hosting the first one-of-a-kind Peace Festival, ‘Spreading a culture of Peace’ in Sydney, to commemorate the 6th annual Declaration of World Peace proclaimed by HWPL (Heavenly Culture, World Peace & Restoration of Light), Seoul, South Korea in 2013.
As a volunteer and emcee for the day her ethos were, “In this age when each part of the world is riven with communal polarisation, war, intolerance and violence, I feel, it is incredibly important to support and emphasise peace culture, harmony and non-violence. As an actor & artist, I truly believe that art is a platform that showcases and also weaves together diverse cultures. It doesn't have barriers, it doesn't follow the limitations of language, faith, geography, race or nationality. I truly believe that it is a means to unite people, such as all of us here, who have gathered today to spread the culture of peace by showcasing and celebrating our rich cultural heritage through various forms of art. If we look at some of the diverse ethnicities that were present (today), many of us, have experienced war and conflict in our homeland, including, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka & Afghanistan. And Parramatta is central and home to several people from these ethnicities, the City of Parramatta Council, and Lord Mayor Andrew Wilson, supported us with the venue, including several other political leaders, community leaders and media from all communities across Sydney.”
The International Women’s Peace Group (IWPG), Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), & the International Peace Youth Group (IPYG), 30th Global Peace Tour at ICC Sydney
The peace conference reached out to the “Harmony, Communication and Peace of over 3.7 billion Women” and discussed the role of women in achieving this by establishing a cooperating network. The event offered a site of mutual understanding and communication. A time to reflect on what true peace means and the role of women in achieving such peace. Saroni presented & interviewed distinguished delegates present at the conference, and continues to work towards re-enforcement of the practical steps for the realization of world peace.
‘Interfaith Perspective on Education’ & ‘The place of Interfaith Dialogue in a Culturally Diversified Australian Context’ at NSW Parliament hosted by Indian Crescent Society of Australia Inc. Hon Jihad Dib MP and Dr. Geoff Lee MP.
As a Peace Ambassador Saroni has been a part of this forum where inter-faith religious heads and community leaders are invited to share their perspectives on the importance of education and communication.
Commemorating Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th Birth Anniversary 2019
Saroni was an instrumental part of the ‘Mahatma-150’ core team, a conglomeration of individuals from different walks of life and expertise in various field of work with a common goal to perpetuate and celebrate the peace icon, Mahatma Gandhi’s values, teachings and his 150th Birth Anniversary. Supported by community volunteers, multi-cultural organisations, NGOs, the Consulate General of India in Sydney, City of Parramatta Council and Western Sydney University, the ‘Mahatma-150’ team hosted a series of initiatives - A screening of the rare documentary ‘Gandhi – The 20th Century Prophet’ by AK Chettiar, a Mahatma Gandhi Exhibition and a theatre performance of The Prophet and The Poet at Western Sydney University on 28th September 2019. This was followed up with a grand celebration on the 2nd October 2019 in Jubilee Park, Parramatta, where the life-size statue of Mahatma Gandhi was unveiled last year in the presence of Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison and President of India, Ram Nath Kovind and other dignitaries. Following this on the 3rd of October, 2019 was a special movie screening of the Academy Award winner British-Indian film, ‘Gandhi’ by Richard Attenborough at Event Cinemas, Parramatta.
Prelude to the celebration of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi at Western Sydney in 2019
Western Sydney University, welcomed speakers from worldwide and special guests from Techno India University, India & Acharya Bangalore Business School, India, & leaders of the Indian diaspora in Sydney. Saroni Roy, Actor & Ms India Australia Goodwill Ambassador, spoke on the ‘Role of Film & Modern Media in perpetuating Peace’.
India Unites for Animals (IUFA)
Saroni’s contribution to the worldwide India Unites for Animals (IUFA) event on the 18th September 2016 in Sydney, Australia. India Unites for Animals was the first-ever global mobilization of citizens against animal abuse in India. It was organised with an aim to bring awareness on the rising incidents of animal cruelty in India, and to mobilise public opinion to seek new animal welfare legislation in the country. The event took place across 58 cities in India, and 21 cities internationally, including Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne in Australia, and a number of cities in the USA, UK, South Africa, Czech Republic and Nepal.
People came together to demand a new animal welfare legislation in India, and pressed for creating deterrence through stricter penalty provisions against offenders. At the time of organisation of the event, the fine / penalty in India for a first-instance of animal abuse, no matter how severe, was only Rs. 100 or 2 AUD. Through the India Unites for Animals banner, participants mobilised together to bring public attention to this archaic provision and organised silent protests and submitted petitions to lawmakers to request for a change in laws.
In Sydney, the IUFA event was held at Pitt Street Mall in the city. Volunteers gathered on the occasion to speak to members of the public and get signatures for the IUFA petition to submit to lawmakers. Participants included members of South Asian community organisations, charities and Animal Justice Party volunteers. As a completely volunteer-coordinated event, this gathering of concerned citizens was a complete success!
Saroni was a key support figure in the coordination and organisation of the IUFA event in Sydney. Connecting via social media, Saroni offered to help out as a volunteer for the event and worked together closely with Madhusmita, the coordinator for the Sydney chapter, to create media outreach for the event.
Saroni’s background in journalism and her ownership of this event were invaluable to the IUFA pre-event campaign. Saroni used her media networks to provide contacts of local press that would carry the event coverage, and also facilitated an interview to talk about the event on a popular community radio station “Indian Link”. The outreach via the radio station was very effective in informing community members about the event and brought in show of support from people who participated because they had heard about the event on radio.
‘The White Whale’ documentary by UTS students
Saroni is a voice actor for an animal rights student capstone documentary titled ‘The White Whale’. The projects underlying themes highlight the downplayed issues of whaling, and the prevalent issues of animal rights associated with it through a fictional story. The intent of the project was to educate its target audience about the whaling controversy, by revealing the truth commercial fisheries hide in the hunt, produce and their motivations for undertaking their endeavours. ‘The White Whale’ was created as a result of two university students’ passions for animal rights, whereby they wanted to shed light on the trivial inhumane and unnecessary practices that mankind so selfishly undertake, and their implications on the natural world. The project is in the process of being hosted on UTS’s public facing website after the outstanding marks received, and in the works is the showcasing of it to ABC and other media outlets. Saroni played the female lead character, Mia the last white whale.
From her deep passion for animals to her conviction and drive in sharing our vision, she was but the perfect lead voice actor. Her voice combined with the thematic, visual aesthetic and narrative execution, brought both laughter and tears to those who interacted with the work. Hence Saroni’s involvement in the project has really helped highlight the essence of the cause and the project, in the way she was able to bring the protagonist to life; the personification of Mia the whale through expressions of happiness, curiosity, sadness, anger and despair. With Saroni undertaking this work unpaid, it goes to show her dedication and compassion towards issues of animal rights and her vision in highlighting it.
Andre Cordova’s Music Video, “My Heart”, sales proceeds donated to Cure Brain Cancer Foundation.
The music video is associated with a song titled “My Heart”, which is about the darker side of grief. Saroni contributed to a good cause via the album launch. Though most CD’s on the night were given away for free, those that were sold had the proceeds go to the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation.
Saroni’s portrait shot by Stine Munk Jenson won her a Bronze Award at The Portrait Masters Image Awards 2017 held in Los Angeles, USA.
These would also be published in a coffee-table with the sales proceeds donated to Beyond Blue Australia. Beyond Blue provides information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health.
Message from the Addison Road Community Organisation
Correspondence received from the Hon. Dr Geoff Lee MP, Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education