Most people think of themselves as individuals, that there’s no one on the planet like them. This thought motivates them to get out of bed, eat food and walk around like nothing’s wrong. And then there are some like 17-year-old Ananya Saluja, who can travel million miles for that one smile. Yes! It is about people the real ones who don’t care about themselves but the world and it’s people.
Ananya, a class 11th student, spends her hard-earned post-exam break teaching underprivileged children in Jammu and Kashmir’s Leh district.
During the two-month volunteering program, Ananya believes she was the one who learned more than the children she taught. She learnt about the lives of people and the challenges they faced on a day-to-day basis.
“To us, a tablet is an everyday object. But to these children who rarely see a computer, a tablet is a little magic screen working without any cord! 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 very special connect beyond all these differences. After returning, I realised that there was a strong bond between us that kept tugging at me,” Ananya said.
How it all started
Ananya, a student at The Shri Ram School in Haryana’s Moulsari area in Gurugram, has spent her last three summer breaks in Leh. In addition to teaching, she has raised more than Rs 10 lakh to build playgrounds and start libraries there.
It all started two years ago when Ananya’s school introduced a community service programme in its curriculum, which prescribed that students teach underprivileged children. The programme eventually ended, but Ananya decided she would continue with her community service even though the curriculum didn’t require it anymore.
The experience was an eye opener for the teenager. “It was transforming and enriching,” she told Timesofindia.com.
“During the time of the program, I really got close to my girls (I was teaching in Leh). 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,” she added.
Continue story on The Times of India