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...
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...