Happy Father’s Day, Pithaji!

Happy Father’s Day, Pithaji!

All good fathers share common qualities of love and affection for their children, a desire to protect them and keep them safe, to encourage and care for them. Through actively embodying these qualities, they teach their children how to display these characteristics in their own lives. Sahasra Deepika’s founder–my father, T.V. Ramakrishna, didn’t have the opportunity to get to know his dad, who died when he was a young boy. Although he was unable to receive that fatherly wisdom from him, he was inspired through literature and the words of great thinkers and leaders. And when one day a teacher recognized his talents in the classroom, it gave him the confidence to rise higher. My father believes in what Gandhi said: that we should “be the change we wish to see in the world.” That is why he and my mother made the commitment to build Sahasra Deepika as a place of safety, encouragement, and learning for children in need. Most of our girls have single mothers. For them, Dad’s calm, reassuring presence and his constant encouragement is a stabilizing force. They call him “Pithaji,” or honored father. He encourages them to dream big dreams, and to believe that despite their humble beginnings, they too are capable of great things. He knows from his own experience how important it is to make a child feel not only loved, but inspired—to complete their education and use it to make a difference in the world. He’s been a wonderful father for me and my brother, and a loving grandfather. And as founder of Sahasra Deepika, he is a father figure to...
Congrats to the 2015 pre-university graduates!

Congrats to the 2015 pre-university graduates!

Sahasra Deepika 2015 graduates: (L-R): Jayshree, Radha, Amrutha, Mamtha, Chaithra, Preethi, Pooja, Stella, Sharada, Amruthavalli[/caption] It’s such a joy to report that 10 out of the 10 girls who comprised the class of 2013 have all passed pre-university college! Nine of the girls attended Christ University in Bangalore. Jayashree, the daughter of a maid, is a diligent worker whose high score in the SSLC (secondary school) exam was recognized in an article in the Deccan Chronicle in 2013. Two years later, she’s passed pre-university college with a score of 93%, graduating with distinction. She volunteers in the admissions office at Christ and also participates in dance club. Jayashree will pursue a CPA and a business degree at Christ University. We’re so proud of the leadership she’s shown. Jayashree’s classmates Mamtha and Preethi are also going to continue their studies at Christ University. Amruthavalli and Stella, both very talented artists, have been accepted at an arts college. Amrutha plans to continue studying in Shimoga. Sharada and Chaitra spent the day touring colleges with us, and will soon decide where to attend. Radha and Pooja have decided to take a break from their studies and work for a while. What a blessing it has been to see them become such confident, mature young women of achievement. And until they finish their education and start working, Sahasra Deepika will be there every step of the way—providing housing, tuition fees, transportation, healthcare and support. Some of the girls might have been able to attend their village schools, complete and go further. But the experiences that Sahasra Deepika provides, and the girls’ growth in terms...
The Joy of Giving Back: Q&A with Anjali

The Joy of Giving Back: Q&A with Anjali

You might remember Anjali from our Snehotsava blog. She and her friend Veda organized a fundraiser, which means “festival of love”, for Sahasra Deepika back in February. Here’s a question-answer with Anjali, who’s only 16 years old but wise beyond her years. How did you first get involved with Sahasra Deepika? When I expressed an interest in volunteering, my family suggested Sahasra Deepika, where I began conducting dance classes for the girls. Who came up with the idea for Snehotsava? I think this idea came up during a conversation between Vaishali Aunty (Sahasra Deepika Trustee Vaishali Khandekar), Vandana Aunty (Veda’s mom), and my mom.  As a young woman, what does it mean to you to encourage these girls? As a young woman, I believe strongly that every girl should feel confident about herself. Since these girls come from difficult backgrounds, it’s all the more important that they learn that as long as they believe in themselves, nothing can stop them (however clichéd that may sound). Dance contributed enormously to my self-confidence. I have learned to let go of my inhibitions and stand on a stage with a hundred people staring at me. I figured that by teaching the girls dance, I could maybe instill some of that confidence in them too. What would you tell others who may be interested in supporting an organization like Sahasra Deepika? Everyday when I went to Sahasra Deepika, I returned inspired because the girls are so joyful and content. I think everyone should have a chance to experience that. I also think that, since we’ve been blessed with financial security, it is only right that...
The Class of 2015: Facing the Future With Hope

The Class of 2015: Facing the Future With Hope

T.V. and Vijaya Ramakrishna, the Founders of Sahasra Deepika, reflect upon the Class of 2015. L-R: Seniors Gagana, Bhumika, and Ashwini with Triveni, Kavya and Sushma at Bangalore’s International Airport.[/caption] Every year, without fail, the children at Sahasra Deepika are moving forward in the right direction. This fills us with great joy, because to help anyone move forward in their life is a contribution towards the betterment of society. The class of 2015 consists of three girls from different backgrounds, and with different personalities—but each with tremendous potential. Ashwini’s family is originally from Rajasthan. They came to South India looking for work and settled in Bangalore. Her mother is a housemaid who doesn’t even have a place for her daughter to stay, because she lives at her employer’s residence. Bhumika hails from the northern part of Karnataka and has an older sister who is also very bright. She dealt with the loss of her beloved father while she was studying at Sahasra Deepika. Gagana is from a rural background. She is looked upon as a leader in her community, and an inspiration, because she is an educated girl. In the Sahasra Deepika environment, we raise the girls to think not only of themselves, but to think in terms of what they can do for others. That aspect is ingrained in their upbringing—to complete their education, and help those people who are in poor conditions. They have been encouraged to think in terms of being mentors for other girls, and to consider what role they can play in society. Maybe one of them will become that future leader to make...

Opening Doors, Inspiring Hope

We’re only a few months in, and 2015 is already proving to be a great year for Sahasra Deepika. It’s wonderful to see so many people recognizing the efforts of Sahasra Deepika, because that means our message of girls education is being heard more and more each day. President Sarva Rajendra shared her thoughts on the past few months, and how such great opportunities mean great things for Sahasra Deepika and the futures of so many young women. During the past three months, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to bring Sahasra Deepika’s story to a wider audience. Beginning with an interview on WUSA9, followed by feature articles in Washington Family Magazine and Loudoun Times-Mirror, I was able to share our mission of enlightening and empowering girls through education. Topping this off was being selected for Loudoun Business Journal’s 20 Women to Watch in 2015 list, and as one of the four women on the cover of their 100 Women issue. At the photo shoot and at the launch party, I felt truly humbled to be included in such an amazing community of women. They are leaders and trailblazers in their respective fields, and the spirit of service is woven through their lives. Our discussions quickly moved towards how we could collaborate and find areas of connection to encourage girls to become educated, confident women. Whether the girls in need are from Loudoun County, one of the wealthiest counties in the United States, or from Bangalore, India, they all deserve the chance to realize their potential. First Lady Michelle Obama said, “When you walk through that open door of opportunity, you...