The Irrepressible Mind: A Handbook for Overcoming Adversity

(Her new book)

A woman’s ascent from devastating poverty and childhood trauma to international standing as a prominent advocate for the poor and helpless

As a young girl, Jillian Haslam saved a life. Herself tiny and aching from malnutrition, she stood for hours at a tea shop, begging for a ladle of milk to try and prevent her new-born sister from dying of starvation. This tenacious act was proof of the power that a small, lone voice could wield.

From the slums of Calcutta to the executive floors of a global bank, the story offers an unflinching look at one woman’s journey from destitution to success. Throughout, Haslam demonstrates an inexhaustible drive to rise from adversity and find beacons of positivity in impossible circumstances. But her rise doesn’t stop at the top; she returns to her roots again and again to extend a hand to those left in the impoverished communities that she so narrowly escaped.

British by ancestry and born in India after its independence, Haslam found herself cast adrift in a society that did not expect to find people with British ancestry struggling to overcome poverty & hardship like millions of others around them. She and her family suffered the degradation and prejudice of being beneath even the lowest rungs of the social ladder. Deemed less than human, they were forced to live on the streets, flee danger in the middle of the night, and face persistent abuse and starvation.

This treacherous environment is the backdrop of an unlikely story of resilience and an unshakable family bond. From squalor and powerlessness, Haslam finds countless moments of grace, community, gratitude, and love.

The story is a raw and inspiring memoir that shows how beauty can be found in improbable places, and how “success” is not just the act of making it through. Rather, it is the act of reaching back to bring others with you.

Many stories of people with unfortunate beginnings tell of how they escaped their circumstances – AND NEVER GO BACK. They go on to their success and leave their past behind – or buried.

Not Jillian Haslam. Her childhood in India after the end of British colonization is a modern-day Dickensian horror. But she climbed from the slums of Calcutta to the top of her success then turned back to her roots to support others.

Winner of the prestigious Mother Theresa International Memorial Award, she has embraced her purpose to become an important driver of global action for the most urgent needs of the underserved in India and the UK, especially during the pandemic.

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