Children

“BOOK”ing a future

Empowering children: Ananya is on a mission to educate Leh and Ladakh’s youngsters.

Empowering children: Ananya is on a mission to educate Leh and Ladakh’s youngsters.  

A 17-year-old Ananya Saluja is broadening horizons by setting up libraries for underprivileged kids.

What do you do during your summer vacations? Seventeen-year-old Ananya Saluja has hers all planned out. She travels to remote villages in Leh, Ladakh and volunteers to teach underprivileged children. When school is on, she raises funds to provide libraries to these children. She has managed to raise around Rs. 10 lakhs for the cause.

Starting point

It all began two years ago, when Ananya’s school, The Shri Ram School, Moulsari introduced a community service module in its curriculum. This required students to teach underprivileged children. The experience was an eyeopener— transforming and enriching. When the programme ended, she was determined to continue on her own.

She says, “During the time of the programme, I got close to my girls. The happiness on their faces after having understood a concept was worth anything in the world. I just knew that I didn’t want to stop at that.”

Ananya also came to know about the 17,000 ft Foundation run by Sujata Sahu, a former school teacher. “After approaching them for volunteering opportunities, I decided to go to Ladakh,” she says.

She elaborates on how, much like the region, its people too, were shielded from the influence of the world. “To us, a tablet is an everyday object. But to these children who rarely see a computer, the tablet is a little magic screen working without any chord! It took some time to get comfortable with the children, since our cultures, environment and the level of exposure to the outer world were completely different. But once we got past that initial unfamiliarity, we found a special connect beyond these differences.”

Ananya admits that the more she saw and learnt, the more her urge to make a difference increased. She turned to crowd funding to further help the children. “Since I couldn’t give my time more than a few weeks every year, I decided to help them raise money to expand their reach beyond Leh, and set up libraries in Kargil.”

Her efforts paid off and she has managed to raise enough funds to set up 17 libraries. “This is an ongoing effort and I hope to raise as much money as I can for my kids in Kashmir,” says the excited teen.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 5:28:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/booking-a-future/article17441575.ece

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