I too have a dream!

Shwetal Shah
Mar 22 · 4 min read

A dream that has taken me places I would not have imagined….

I have always questioned my privileges growing up in India being surrounded by, but never being in poverty myself.

Your mission in life is to find the intersection between your heart’s gladness and the world’s hunger- Fredrick Buechner”

Meaningful impact to me comes from presenting quality education opportunities for the future generations. Creating a better world for our children and creating better children for our world. I believe that the way to achieve your own success is to be willing to help somebody else get it first.

I have also come to realize that change starts from young, in order to raise an emotionally intelligent and confident generation, whose true religion becomes humanity we need to have access to better education and education for all. I started volunteering with 2 NGOs when I was in India -Each One Teach One (EOTO) and Hamara Footpath. With EOTO I went into a school where they provided free education to underserved students and taught English and with Hamara Footpath, we went to one of the homeless communities and taught English to the children there along with giving them a more holistic development by taking them to the zoo, theatre, running art and craft workshops.

I did all this during the weekends and evenings and it always opened up my eyes to the world in ways I never would have seen had it not been for the opportunity I got to not teach these children but for them to teach me several lessons about life.

  1. A lot of our privileges in life are determined by the birth lottery- anyone could be on either spectrum of the poverty line
  2. No matter where we come from, we all have unique traits and intelligence and so much to teach even if they lived on the streets and had so little in terms of tangible worth so much more in terms of priceless values like resilience and emotional intelligence.
  3. Our duty as citizens of the world is to first and foremost look after our community and it is not the sole responsibility of the others or the governments but us, you, I, each individual.

I was one day talking to a 10 year old boy during our session at the NGO and I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, looking up at the stars he said he wanted to be a pilot, as much as that brought a glint in my eye it also brought a tear, knowing in India, with very poor infrastructure of social mobility some dreams can never be fulfilled if you come from certain strata of society and so I decided that day on, it is my responsibility to do justice to the many 10 year olds like him who may have lost the birth lottery but they have won the respect lottery, a respect to my privileges, a respect to acknowledging the power I had to make change happen simply because I had access to education.

I knew I had to find a way to make the most of my education to give back and do justice to the many hopes and dreams of young children to give them access to the same opportunities I have been given and so I decided to leave India so that one day I can build a better India.

So that I could have access to resources to one day to continue on the legacy left by my great grandfather who built a school in a village in West India. Set up a scholarship fund once the school has been built so that I can fund atleast one child’s entire education from primary to higher and further education.

After speaking to the Principal who mentioned that the current building needs a lot of renovation and they want to add a computer lab as well, they wish to build a new school which would cost $22,000, I have been saving my funds since I started working to distribute books, buy furniture and hopefully construct a new building for the students.

I am hoping that by 2024 I have enough savings in order for me to have atleast one school built and then partner with other NGOs who work in this space and continue helping build more schools in India and make education as accessible as I can in my lifetime thus helping contribute towards building my nation in whatever little way I can.

Once I have built this school I want to partner with the education department and other educational NGOs from a neighbouring city, I want to invite the leaders to come and talk about their journey with the students currently enrolled in the school, data from this pilot will help inform local policy level change, to allocate not only space but also help bring these kids into these alternative schooling establishments where we would focus on helping the neighbouring villages as well.

Shwetal Shah

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