Social work is a much-abused term in today’s time. However, we do come across veterans who have dedicated their whole life for betterment of the marginalized and deprived. But isn’t it a breath of fresh air when we come across someone young doing a thing that is way mature for their age.
Today, we talk about a 17-year-old girl who visits the remotest villages in the Jammu Kashmir’s Leh district and volunteers to teach the underprivileged children there. For Ananya Saluja, it was all about that smile which the children had on their face after learning a new concept.
This inspirational work has roots to when she was preparing for her exams. As every other student, the only concerns for Ananya were her studies and marks, until her school introduced a community service module in it’s curriculum. All that the module expected was, the students to teach the underprivileged children.
It was back in 2015 when she was studying in the Shri Ram School, Moulsari. She visited the villages of Liktsey, Turtuk and Tialing, all in Leh district, to teach the children. The experience there was so enhancing that Ananya could not stop herself from thinking about taking it up for a long term. “During the time of the program, I really got close to my girls. The happiness on their faces after having understood a concept was worth everything in the world. I just knew that I didn’t want to stop at that,” says Ananya. There on, was the end of the program but an aspired start to create smiles by sharing what she had.
Ananya then got in touch with the 17,000 ft foundation run by Sujata Sahu, a former school teacher. She approached the foundation for volunteering opportunities there by heading to Ladakh on the spreading knowledge expedition.
This was more of a summer convention where Ananya made it a point to visit the villages. In 2016 as well, she visited the Matho village in Leh district where she helped in setting up a playground for the children. Lankerchey Thang village in Kargil district was her place of spreading smiles and creating experiences in the summers this year.
During the summers, she helps them by being there and teaching them knowledgeable concepts but the time, when she is not there she tries getting funding so that playgrounds can be built and libraries can be set up in the Kargil district of Leh. Till date, Ananya has raised a fund of total 33 libraries in Kargil district, 1 library in Leh district and 1 playground in Leh district. Adds up to just over 20 lakhs in all. These figures which are achieved by a teenager would be definitely astonishing for one to know.
Ananya‘s aspiration to do good for the children in Ladakh was not meant to settle by just giving it an ignition. She noticed the fact that the books available in the library were about the children living in the cities and other parts of India or world. It wasn’t something that the children in Ladakh would relate themselves to. The need was then turned into availability, as Ananya had the solution for this as well. Ananya has self-published a children’s story book for distribution in the remote school’s of Ladakh. The book aims at intensifying their sense of identity and so displays a simple language and understanding.
After being there for consecutive summer weeks, the joy that Ananya gets in sharing is not measurable as she states it more of a learning experience for her as well. The kind of people, new cultures and hard but weird situations is something that has added to her consciences.
Ananya looks forward to keep on doing this work every summer, travelling miles and reducing the gap of knowledge.