Be The Change

Akanksha Foundation
Akanksha Foundation
It wasn’t easy, but I’ve finally managed to set up a relatively normal life here. Although Mumbai represents craziness at its best, I am surprised by the level of organization and structure of the Akanksha Foundation, the main youth foundation I will be working with during my time here in India. With 33 after school centers and 2 full time schools, Akanksha has developed a specific curriculum and manual with which they want to instruct every child. They have programs that range from the basics of Math and English to social leadership and music. They help slum kids apply to universities, market their artwork to generate income for their families, and even teach them basic computer skills in partnership with SchoolNet. The soul of Akanksha is in Mahatma Ghandi’s mantra: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Akanksha changes the lives of children by showing them how to believe again through the art of imagination. They help the kids escape from their harsh realities in the slums, even for just a few hours a day or a week, to let them be children again. I visited with the centers and met with the children, volunteers and professors. It was assessment day, and the children were being tested on their progress through oral and written exams. I sat in on multiple assessments where the children were asked about current events and about what they had read or seen recently in the news. What was going on in their Mumbai? And you know the first thing the children spoke of? Music. They knew the latest Bollywood release, they spoke of Michael Jackson’s death, they quoted lyrics romanticizing their favorite songs. One little boy even broke out in dance and serenaded me with a Bollywood love song (it took all I had not to blush!).

Inside Akanksha Foundation
Inside Akanksha Foundation
This morning, I visited with another Akanksha center in Bandra. After lessons covering a diverse range of topics that included psychology, economics, politics and physics, the class erupted into one big Bollywood disco. The teachers turned on the stereo, and the whole class danced in a circle to the ever-popular song of the moment – “Desi Girl,” from the Bollywood movie Dostana. With lyrics like, “Who’s the hottest girl in the world? My Desi Girl!!,” the children strutted their stuff, and in all honesty, some of them were pretty amazing dancers! Never before had I experienced such a crazy Bollywood dance party in such a tiny, crowded, unairconditioned room in the morning, but hey, I could definitely get used to this! Later, the children commented that I spoke and looked like Katerina Kaif, a Bollywood movie star from London. I know this is hardly the case, but I think I’ll go with it for awhile. I seriously love these kids, and I am so excited to work with them this year.
That’s it for now, and I will write again soon about Navaratri and about a really great upcoming event that Akanksha has in partnership with Teach for India, called “Come Alive.” Thanks for reading!

14 thoughts on “Be The Change

  1. helping the underpriveldged and removing your time to be with them in todays world is really something to be appreciated , really well done , i wish u all the best .


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