By Nanika K., Year 13
Throughout my life I’ve lived in London, Dubai, Bangalore and Chicago, which has allowed me to experience different cultures. It has also helped me gain perspective on socioeconomic gaps. My interest in human rights is rooted in the observations I’ve been able to make about around the world me: starving children on the street, unemployed and ignored men, and abused women. From a young age, I have always strived to help these people, and fortunately, I am now in a position to do so independently.
During summer break this year, I visited India with my mother for three weeks to work with two charities. My first stop was Unique Home For Girls in Jalandhar, Punjab, which is an orphanage for abandoned girls. I first became involved with the charity around my 16th birthday, when I requested that my friends and family make donations to the organization rather than giving me a gift. During my time at Unique Home For Girls, I chose to live with the girls to experience daily life as they do. The experience was enlightening; each day I interacted with girls who were left by their parents, as young as one month old, simply because they are female.
After a week living in the Home, I traveled to Mumbai and volunteered at an Akanksha School. The Akanksha Foundation sets up schools around Mumbai and Pune to educate children who grow up in public places, like landfills and train stations, and those from incredibly low-income families. Here I was able to teach children Math, English and Art. What made this experience even more challenging was that I did not speak the same language as the children. However, through my time at the school, I learned to speak their native language, Hindi, almost fluently. Teaching at the school helped me appreciate my good fortune and access to education.
When I returned to Chicago, I was adamant about continuing to support the children I grew so close to. So, I joined with my parents and friends Reema R. and Emma W. at BISC to establish the organization Wish To Learn. The name is derived from “Akanksha,” which means “wish” in Hindi, as well as the basic human right that every child deserves—to learn. Through Wish To Learn, we are able to continue supporting Unique Home For Girls and The Akanksha Foundation.
On Saturday, October 24, we have organized our first event—a Bollywood-themed dinner and dance. There will be fantastic food, music, belly dancers, and much more. Click here for more information.
I am excited to see how the funds we raise will help improve the lives of children. I think Wish To Learn is just the beginning of what I hope will be lifelong support for girls who deserve the same opportunities that I have had.