Brown Girl Bosses: Nirmala Ramprasad and Green Dupatta
Nirmala Ramprasad is the founder of Green Dupatta, a sustainability based non-profit organization that was established in 2014. Green Dupatta has organized various projects across Guyana, Canada and India to co-create community-based spaces and programs that are centered around education, empowerment and environmental sustainability.
Growing up as a bi racial woman of Indo-Guyanese and Belgian descent, Nirmala and her family strongly identified with their Indian roots. Though she was not always accepted and often questioned by others about her ‘Indian’ authenticity, Nirmala took the opportunity to educate herself and others about her ancestors’ and their journey as indentured labourers from India to Guyana. Her father has always been intrigued with his Indian ancestry and has been able to trace one of his grandparents back to their village of origin in Uttar Pradesh, India.
After 27 years, her father was able to receive his Indian citizenship by being able to prove hat he had family ties to India. This was a significant milestone for the Ramprasad family.
At the age of 16, Nirmala’s dad took her to India for the first time. Here they spent evenings walking alongside the Ganges river where Nirmala would eventually come up with the name Green Dupatta. Like most Indo-Caribbean parents, Nirmala’s dad was concerned with his daughter’s future and what she wanted to do with her life. She wanted to help others but was not sure how.
Her dad had suggested she “first come up with a name for your organization, and then it will come to life,”—and that’s exactly what she did.
Green Dupatta represents her passion for the environment and sustainability while the word ‘Dupatta,’ represents her Indian roots.
While visiting Guyana for the first time at 18, Nirmala came upon an empty building that was supposed to be a community space in her dad’s village. After learning that it has been empty for years and that her grandfather was one of the founders, she decided to take matters into her own hands and make it into a space that the community could use. Nirmala used her platform, Green Dupatta to raise funds to renovate the building. Once renovated, she learned that the community had many young mothers who were not able to go to work due to the lack of affordable childcare in the area. When a woman stepped up with the idea to run a daycare in the new building, Nirmala and her team helped her to make a pitch for the board. The pitch was successful and the building is now used as a community centre by everyone in the village. It also has a community garden that is taken care of by everyone in the village. This is a prime example of Green Dupatta’s mission.
Over the years, Nirmala has used the skills that she has gained as a Teacher to help train educators and students on sustainability and the importance of taking care of the environment in communities around the world such as Varnasi, India. Not only does Green Dupatta do a lot of work abroad, they continue to be a leader in the Caribbean community in Toronto. Green Dupatta holds an annual fundraiser banquet where they recruit young talents in the Caribbean community and gives them a platform to showcase their skills. Nirmala strives to preserve the rich culture of the Caribbean by staying involved in various community events such as the Miss West Indian Canadian Pageant, where she was crowned the 2015 Queen.
Nirmala believes that it is important to support the young leaders in our community and she continuously finds ways to include them in her projects here in Canada.
Most recently, during the Covid-19 isolation period, Green Dupatta has created and delivered educational packages to over 100 kids in the GTA. Nirmala continues to be an international leader both at home and abroad. Her passion for education, sustainability and the rich Indian roots are the reasons behind her drive for growing Green Dupatta and reaching as many people as she can. As she represents Guyana in the 2020 Miss Face of Humanity search for their Global Ambassador, we wish her luck!