is giving a young businesswoman greater purpose
Jacinta Gulasekharam is a socially driven entrepreneur and co-founder of period poverty start-up Dignity. We spoke to her about how that work feeds her drive to learn and honour te reo.
Growing up in Feilding, Jacinta Gulasekharam felt both safe and strange. She was the only person of South Asian descent at her primary school (Jacinta’s mother is Pākehā and her father Sri Lankan), and most kids couldn’t pronounce her surname. In some cases, the racism she experienced was blatant, as classmates would pointedly ask her, “What boat did you come off?”
Gulasekharam would eventually find a comfortable place in the school’s kapa haka group, dressed in piupiu, swinging poi and singing waiata. Somehow those kupu made their way into her bones, and the whanaungatanga and manaakitanga of that rōpu helped her to feel part of the community. But her education in te ao Māori was limited.