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Author to share story of Sehgal family

By Staff | Jan 20, 2016


An inspirational story of a couple, refugees who left dangerous situations in their home country, that persevered once arriving in the United States and eventually beginning a foundation that helps less fortunate in rural India, will be shared at the Captiva Memorial Library.

Author Marly Cornell will discuss her books “Seeds for Change” and “Together We Empower” during the Adult Program Series: Afternoon Sojourns, at the Captiva Memorial Library today, at 4 p.m.

Cornell who has been a writer, using both her name and a ghost name, for quite some time, has crossed many genres with her writing.

“My favorites are biographies and inspiration,” she said. “I really love nonfiction. I love true stories and real stories about people, especially if they are remarkable people.”

A woman who Cornell worked with to design two of her book covers had a connection with another writer who knew the Sehgal family.

“When the family was looking for someone who could document their story, she referred me to them. That was about three and a half years ago, maybe more now,” she said. “It’s been a pleasure to work with these people. I feel like I have been lifted into their orbit. You start to feel more empowered to empower more people.”

The first book, “Seeds for Change,” was initially intended for the Sehgal family, so the rich, inspiring story could be shared of their parents, Suri and Edda. When Cornell wrote the book she made sure it met all publishing standards and could move straight into distribution if their minds changed, which eventually did, leading to seven book awards.

Suri, who was born in the section of India that is now Pakistan, had his family’s home turned into a refugee camp when the country’s freedom was being obtained. After the area around their home became dangerous, a Muslim friend told his father that a refugee train was expected to arrive the next morning. Due to the amount of refugee’s boarding the train, four of his children boarded separate cars. When his father saw that Suri’s 11-year-old sister was alone, his father shoved him on the train and told him to take care of his sister.

After arriving in the states, he met his wife Edda, who also had a refugee past, while going to school to obtain his PhD. After school, Suri became instrumental in turning Pioneer Seed into a global giant while he was the president of the overseas operations.

Cornell said the couple lived in the same modest home while using their resources to help others all that time, before selling the seed company and creating their philanthropic foundations in the United States and in India.

She said it’s truly amazing how the Sehgal’s can step into what appears to be a hopeless situation and truly make a difference.

“They are inspiring. They lift people up,” Cornell said.

In 2000, the Sehgal couple purchased a home on Captiva.

Much of their story will be shared during her appearance at the Captiva Memorial Library. The couple will also be in attendance.

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.