Imagine attending a school where things we take for granted, are considered luxuries. I used to go to school everyday, not even thinking about the amount of blessings I have in my life. I would go from class to class, completely ignoring all the materials right in front of me; however, all this changed when I visited a small school in rural India in 2014. As my family is from India, we go back every year to visit relatives and volunteer. That summer, I wanted to volunteer in a school, and I was expecting the school to be similar to one I go to. When I first walked into the school, I was surprised to see all the children sitting on the cold, concrete floors. I was especially troubled when I saw disabled children struggling to get up and sit down; however, I was struck to see how happy the children were even though they did not have much.
Seeing the children so happy motivated me to do something for them. I decided to start a project to get desks and chairs for the school in rural India. I also wanted to raise awareness about the plight of children in rural India in my local community here in the United States. I organized many awareness events, along with my team, to raise awareness and funds. The first of these events was the King and Queen tennis event in my neighborhood. I was very impressed to see how the whole community came together to support a cause. I also pitched the project to my “Called to Serve” (Christian Ed) class, and it got selected for a final exam grade. Our team could raise awareness about the project to our whole school through the “More than a Desk” event we held. Finally, after a few more fundraisers, we were able to collect enough money to provide 52 desks (each desk seats 4 children) to a school with 206 children. My project inspired my brother to do a similar project in two more schools. Seeing how happy the children are inspired me to start a non- profit called Embrace Children (embracechildren.com). I hope to expand the program when I attend college this fall.
Because of my project, Booster Seat, I got selected to be part of the HERlead fellowship forum. Attending the forum changed my life and taught me an important lesson: If I am passionate and driven about doing something, I should not stop until my goals are accomplished. The CEO of Ann Taylor, Kay Krill, told us that it is paramount to enjoy the journey and embrace failure, change, and success. On my last visit to the school I worked in India, I as standing close to Vasanthi. She was one of the girls who had used the desks for a whole school year. Vasanthi took off the wooden bracelet on her hand and gave it to me. I was struck because the child did not even have shoes on her feet and she was so happy giving something away. Giving the desks has greatly impacted my life, and the opportunity to see so many happy children is the best kind of encouragement to continue the project throughout my life. I plan to encourage my class mates in college to work with me to make a positive impact. Although the road to getting desks and chairs to every school will be a tough one, I am going to enjoy every moment of the journey.
Originally published at medium.com