While Women March, Girls Rule

While Women March, Girls Rule

“On a day of action, the Spelling Bee was a moment of hope; a small but bright light of possibility and joy in a world that needs it.” On Saturday, millions of people around the world marched under the banner of “women’s rights are human rights.” They raised their voices to demand equal pay, equal opportunity, the right to leave home without being harassed on the streets, and the right, as former Karnataka High Court Justice Ram Mohan Reddy stated so eloquently, “to live independently, the life and lifestyle they want.” The knowledge of one’s rights and the ability to exercise them at all begins with an education, a fundamental right that is too often denied to children in poverty, especially girls. 62 million girls worldwide are out of school. And their potential, their freedom, and opportunity to live a life they want are dreams denied.  While the marchers raised their battle cry from Washington, D.C. to Antarctica, a quiet yet powerful statement was being made at Sahasra Deepika’s 8th Annual Spelling Bee in Bangalore. Children from poor government schools, children whose lack of fluency in English can often keep them in a lower strata, were given an opportunity through our Outreach Program to learn English. In cooperation with our corporate sponsor, Societe Generale Global Solutions CSR, over 4,500 9th standard students received tutoring in English. Kids who rarely, if ever, are applauded for their talents were given an opportunity to shine. The 166 finalists from 42 schools competed in the day-long challenge with enthusiasm and excitement. And at the end, four girls prevailed. The winner, Vinutha, faces many challenges...
Resolve to Make a Difference in 2017

Resolve to Make a Difference in 2017

“Instead of looking at New Year’s as a chance to just reflect on ourselves, let us take this opportunity to think about those in need in our communities, nationally, and globally.” The New Year marks the chance for a fresh start. People take time to spend with friends and family, resolutions are made, and essentially, we are presented with an opportunity to improve ourselves. We are basically given a chance to hit a “reset button” on our lives, as we reflect on the past year and prepare ourselves for what lies ahead. Yet, not all children are given this chance for a new start every time January 1st rolls around. Some are stuck in cycles of poverty, oppression, and overall discrimination–especially girls. According to UNESCO, about 66 million girls worldwide are unable to go to school. Instead of looking at New Year’s as a chance to just reflect on ourselves, let us take this opportunity to think about those in need in our communities, nationally, and globally. Not only can we resolve to have a deeper understanding of the world’s issues, but we can also begin making a difference, large or small. Here is a quick start…a few facts about the issue of girls education: A girl with an extra year of education can earn 20% more as an adult. In Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, there would be a 10% decrease in the amount of girls under 17 who become pregnant if they were given an education. A child born to a mother who can read is 50% more likely to survive past the age of 5. India’s GDP...
Breaking Stereotypes, One Girl at a Time

Breaking Stereotypes, One Girl at a Time

“I am thankful that places like Sahasra Deepika exist. It gives me hope, that one day I will live in a society where being an Indian woman is not defined by stereotypes…” Being an Indian girl, while being raised in America and attending a predominately white school has its challenges; whether it be the difference in culture, religion, or ways of thinking. I have been fortunate enough to go to a school that strives to embrace differences and accept those with unique religious and cultural backgrounds. While the school itself embodies messages of diversity, it is hard to leave biases behind and embark on complete open-mindedness. Often times society instills racist, untrue, and hurtful messages within us and we subconsciously oblige. I have just finished 10th grade and am now starting to notice how our society acts towards those who are different, or those that they do not completely understand. Not only do I realize the unfair treatment that has been dealt to others, but I am starting to understand how I am also treated differently because of my ethnicity, in a place where I am a minority. I can recall a moment in the 6th grade while reading the book, Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan. In the book a 13- year old Indian girl is forced into an arranged marriage, with no say in the matter. The book then follows her through her married life. Her husband dies soon after marriage and her in-laws are so horrible that they leave her alone in the city. The students in my 6th grade class had not yet had any lessons...
Love in Action

Love in Action

What is Valentine’s Day? A day to exchange gifts? A day when schoolgirls and boys make hearts out of red paper? A day when the scent of rose petals fills the air? Some view it as a day to give friends and family flowers, little cards with loving sayings on them, and other gifts. But behind this commercialized front, Valentine’s Day has a deeper meaning. It is a day set aside to express love to those you care about through kind words and actions. Sahasra Deepika’s work encompasses the theme of Valentine’s Day not just on February 14th, but on a daily basis. What better way is there to show love than to provide so many girls with an education, a home and a family of people who care about them? In the film Suma’s Story: It’s Her Turn, Suma talks about how her mother dropped her off at Sahasra Deepika and said that she would come back for her–yet she left without ever looking back. When I first saw that film, my thoughts were along the lines of “How could a mother do that to her child?” I also started to wonder about how hard life must be for Suma, who must think that her mother did not love her. It took a conversation with my own mother for me to realize that this was really an act of love. My mother was able to understand something that I could not: the extent a mother will go to for her daughter’s happiness. This is not to say that Suma has not had difficulties in her life. But Suma’s mother dropped her off in an...
#ItsHerTurn: A reason to be thankful

#ItsHerTurn: A reason to be thankful

Suma’s Story Inspires a Teenager to Count Her Blessings Thanksgiving is more than just the turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing; it is a time to give thanks and express gratitude for the elements that bring joy to life. Not only is it a time to count your blessings, but it is also a day set aside for service and giving back to the community, country and world. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” tying in perfectly to the themes of Thanksgiving, but more than that, the Sahasra Deepika Foundation. When presented with the lack of opportunities for girls in India to be educated, the Sahasra Deepika Foundation stepped up to become the much-needed change. In a world where girls are not as valued as they should be, Sahasra Deepika has found a way to ensure that they not only get an education, but also are cared for, supported, and given a safe haven to call home. They have given each and every girl who walks through their doors a blessing to count and something to be thankful for. A change being made in the world is a result of being inspired. This inspiration can come from anywhere, or anything–from a problem that needs to be fixed to a story that must be shared. Suma’s Story: It’s Her Turn is an inspiration. It was Suma’s resilience that leapt off the screen and inspired me. Despite the bad cards she was dealt, Suma has turned her life around and become a role model, not only for other girls at Sahasra Deepika, but for people like...
Running for the Girls: Q&A With Shamala Saripalli

Running for the Girls: Q&A With Shamala Saripalli

Shamala Saripalli ran the Rock’n Roll marathon in San Diego on May 31st because she loves running–and she loves supporting girls education! Tell us a little about yourself: I live in San Diego, California, with my husband Raghu and our two sons, Rahul and Satvik. I work as a Senior Application Analyst for the City of Carlsbad. Have you ever run a marathon, or fundraised, before? No, this was my first marathon and my first fundraiser. Why did you choose to support Sahasra Deepika?  To provide hope and a brighter future for impoverished girls!!! I strongly believe in education as an opportunity to change lives. This is an issue that is near and dear to my heart. India has the largest population of child labor in the world. Girls especially suffer the most in a society where there is a strong preference for boys. Education gives girls hope and an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty, not just for themselves, but also for their families. You raised an amazing amount of money–over $17,000! How did you feel when you crossed the finish line?  We did it!!! I ran with joy in my heart. I felt very proud of girls and all my supporters. What message would you like to share with the girls at Sahasra Deepika? Girls, when you grow up, I would like to see you share your success with other girls that need help and help them become successful. Anything is possible in life if you have the desire to accomplish. What advice do you have for others who may want to follow your example? It is absolutely a great experience, especially when you do...