“Joining the Akshaya Patra youth program, I had my reservations. Most of them were irrational or simply absurd, like the fear of being ridiculed by friends. However, I also feared failing to meet my goal. Speaking to strangers to ask for money always seemed like an awkward thing to do for me, even when it’s for a good cause. Eventually, I accepted all of these things, and decided to focus on the positive things about the program. Working as a youth ambassador has helped me build important life skills, like fundraising and breaking out of my comfort zone. These skills would assist me not only in working for Akshaya Patra, but also in any endeavor I might take up later in life. In addition to fundraising, I’m looking forward to going to India and serving in the kitchen. This will be a hands on experience to see how the organization operates. And of course, I’ll be learning all of this while contributing towards a great cause”.
I became an Akshaya Patra Youth Ambassador in 2016 and I was given the challenge of raising $1800. I didn’t want to fundraise by hosting events or going door to door, those ways didn’t excite me. I wanted to do something different. One day, I realized I should start utilizing my talent and passion for making earrings and that was the day my fundraiser, Earrings For Philanthropy was created. It became a statement in my community that everywhere I went, I would see people from the Indian and non-Indian community would be wearing my earrings. It always brought me such joy to see how a pair of earrings could bring so much impact.
I hope to spread the mission of Akshaya Patra to as many people as possible and make sure every child in India has a nutritious meal and the equal opportunity for everyone to achieve their dreams. Thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout this journey and Akshaya Patra for allowing me to be part of a such an amazing campaign!
“After attending the Dallas Forum, I was able to experience the true impact of the Akshaya Patra Foundation, and the vast influence the organization has all over India. Just the thought of being able to make a difference in a society that is more than 8,000 miles from your own, is a rewarding experience. Knowing that you are helping children, that could very well be your own age, and giving them a chance at obtaining even a fraction of the privileges we are given on a daily basis, is a great motivator. It gives us a reason to keep moving forward, to continue with the work and service we have been providing, to make an impact, and helps us understand the value of changing a person’s life for the better. As a youth member of my community, I wanted to try my best to make a change in this world, and I was willing to put forth my efforts to make it a success. As a member of Akshaya Patra’s Youth Ambassadors this last year, I was able to do just that. The difference I was able to make, alongside the other youth members, in our community and the inspiration we provided to others to join our efforts was an experience I will take with me throughout my life”.
“When senior Surabi Rao heard she would be visiting India over the summer, she decided to seize the opportunity to give back…“The most rewarding part of my trip was actually seeing the faces of kids that I am helping through my nonprofit work,” Rao said. “When you live in Texas and you’re volunteering to help children in India, it’s really hard to lose sight of what you’re working towards. Meeting the children certainly helped me strengthen my purpose.” Rao’s trip to India is truly what the foundation is all about…This gesture of kindness shows how easy it is to have a deeper connection with cultures that are different than our own and how similar we really are.“I remember when I was leaving the school, one of the girls grabbed my hand and said, ‘Please promise me that you’ll never forget us,’” Rao said.”
“Education is a dream for me, but there is no time for me to go to school. I have to spend the entire day earning money so that I can afford at least one meal. But, if I did go to school, I would definitely become a doctor!” These were the words of Megha, a 13-year old girl from a village in the outskirts of Bangalore, India.
Coming from a First World country, I was in dismay after hearing about Megha’s plight, which resembled more than 61 million kids in India. After hearing about children like Megha, I knew that it was time for me to make a difference in the world and Akshaya Patra was the perfect means for me to achieve my goal!
“Being an Akshaya Patra Youth Ambassador allows me to play a role in an outstanding and prominent cause. It brings me surplus joy to know that I am helping out with such a noble cause. I wrote handwritten letters, organized booths at picnics and festivals such as the Federation of India festival, and much more to raise my funds, allowing me to explore the diverse methods of fundraising. I love being a Youth Ambassador, as it enabled me to help children in India who may not be as fortunate as I am. I intend to contribute my effort to Akshaya Patra in the future by raising awareness and donations of the acclaimed foundation and help reach the goal of feeding 5 million mouths by 2020.”
“In October of 2015, I launched my first solo fundraiser at the Gayatri Chetna Center in Anaheim, CA. The fundraiser was a devotional Carnatic bhajan performance by children ages 6 to 17, disciples of Smt. Padma Kutty. After the performances, I was able to speak about the pressing issues regarding poverty and illiteracy in India, as well as throughout most of the third world. At the fundraiser alone, I was able to raise about $3,000, along with the $1800+ donations I had collected that year. I truly believe Akshaya Patra is a fundamental part of the solution to improving illiteracy and nutrition for rural and urban children in India. My journey with Akshaya Patra has been nothing short of life-changing, and I am truly glad to have been a part of it for the past two years.”
“This summer, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to my homeland, Bangalore, India, and visit Akshaya Patra kitchens to witness the work they do up close…I followed the Akshaya Patra delivery truck to Government Junior Primary School, a local school in North Bangalore. I noticed the excitement on the students faces as they got ready for their hot lunch; they washed their hands, plates and sat in straight lines eagerly. I served the students bisibelebath and dessert and watched them finish a plate of food in just a few minutes and get ready for the second serving. Yes, the students are served seconds as every school is sent some extra food to ensure that the students with a larger appetite don’t go hungry for the rest of the day. Some of them may not get another complete meal for the day. I could see the smile on their faces as they enjoyed the delicious Bisibelebath. This was a very heartwarming experience, and I am so glad that I was able to see happiness in the boys and girls before and after their meal…I believe that this is the best way to attract children to attend schools and increase the literacy rate in the suburbs.
“Being a Youth Ambassador has been life changing from asking my uncles to donate money to raising $900 at my high school. I’ve been an Ambassador for 3 years, but this summer everything changed for me when I visited Jaipur…This summer I had the opportunity to work at the kitchens in India and experience Akshaya Patra first hand. Not only does it give them food, it gives them education and that is something that I never thought to be as a privilege…I saw this little girl drinking the kictheree straight from the bowl because she was enjoying it that much. To most of these kids that was the only meal they get. Speaking with one girl, I found out that her mother begs to clean other’s dishes so she can scrape the food left on the plate to split amongst her and her children. These girls were brought up being taught that it is their brother who is allowed to go to school, but I went to an all girls school and the reason they were there was because of Akshaya Patra giving them a free meal. I heard so many stories of how these girls were so motivated to becoming doctors and lawyers and inventors of the world. They had passion for education that I know us kids often take for granted. One brilliant girl didn’t want to do any of those things, instead she wanted to grow up to motivate other girls to come to school and drive other woman to show their true power. She was 12 and she was already thinking about helping for a better tomorrow…I want to help Akshaya Patra reach the goal to feeding 5 million kids every single day. Thank you so much for all your support and I hope you could donate to make a difference in someone’s life as well.”
“He was only ten years old. Effortlessly weaving through the heavy traffic, while going from car to car trying to sell flowers. I could imagine his familiarity with the traffic patterns at the stop light came with hours of practice every day. The risk as well worth the little money he made from his job, as it would help feed him and his family. At the time I could only feel bad for him, and maybe buy the flowers he was selling, but ultimately I realized that I would have just caused the problem to become worse. This was only one such instance that I have seen, as I have visited India over 20 times throughout my life, encompassing a total of 2 years there. Seeing numerous children in different parts of the country work from a very young age not only made me feel lucky, but also sparked an attitude for change in me…”