The Kripalani family – Gul and Sheila Kripalani with their daughters Priyanka and Vandana – have been invaluable supporters of Habitat for Humanity India and our work. In the last 15 years, they have advised, directed, guided, volunteered and raised funds for our work in the country through their time. Sheila Kripalani is the former Chairperson of our Board of Trustees (BOT), current chair of Women Build India Committee, Priyanka Kripalani is a member of our BOT and Gul Kripalani is a member of our Advisory Committee. As our strongest supporters, we value their insight and memories from their time with Habitat India.
Q: How would you describe your journey with Habitat?
Gul Kripalani: I have known Habitat for 15 years now, since 2004. I was very happy to offer my services, to join hands with Habitat – that’s how the partnership was formed. I am very proud to be associated with Habitat for Humanity India and the journey has been most fulfilling and satisfying.
Sheila Kripalani: My initial induction into Habitat for Humanity India was when I started Habitat’s Women Build India chapter (WBI - formerly Women IndiaBuilds). Our first WBI meeting was in Lonavala with Former First Lady of the USA Ms. Rosalynn Carter attending as the Chief Guest. She spoke so well and inspired us, and I managed to get a very good committee together because of what she said at that event. Since then, we’ve been working very well together as a committee, building a lot of homes with families.
Q: Do you have any memorable moments across the years that you would like to share?
Gul Kripalani: I have several memorable experiences with Habitat – the first of which is signing the MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) between Habitat and the Rotary Club of Bombay in the presence of the former Vice President of India Mr. Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and the Governor of Maharashtra in Raj Bhawan. Mr. Rick Hathaway, the Vice President of Habitat Asia-Pacific was also present at that time to witness this event and be part of history.
The second memory is of the Carter Work Project in Lonavala (Maharashtra); a special Habitat build led by former President of the USA Mr. Jimmy Carter and the Former First Lady Mrs. Rosalynn Carter. We were working on the houses there along with Brad Pitt and several other VIPs who had come alongside Habitat India for this important build.
Sheila Kripalani: My happiest memory was building a home in Karjat, for a lady who had all her belongings in a drum. She sat on the drum and watched as we built her home together. She emitted such satisfaction and joy – you could see it on her face! All her life - her parents and generations before that - had always lived in a thatched roof house. For her to see that home was so fulfilling. There are thousands Habitat has helped, just like her. I can never forget that image of her sitting there on that drum.
Q: What would be your wish for Habitat in the years to come?
Gul Kripalani: My wish for Habitat is that you would multiply your efforts - if today, we are building 20,000 homes a year I hope we can build 100,000 homes. You all are doing a wonderful job! If we build these 100,000 homes, we will bless so many more people.
Sheila Kripalani: Well, I think the perfect dream come true is that everyone has a home. It’s their right to have shelter and a roof over their heads. My dream for Habitat India is that every family has a decent place to live.