“…we shared a bond: a bond centered in a love for education and a will to fight and work until girls around the world are given what they deserve.”
In my life, I am lucky enough to have my own little sister Riya who calls me Didi, meaning elder sister in Hindi. Living in an area where we are a minority, hearing the word Didi or encountering people who know what that means is very rare. We have run into countless situations where people are confused or on some occasions think my name actually is Didi and have started to call me that. After we exchange a quick smile and explain why we do this, usually people still do not understand the significance that this specific word has to our lives. For us, it is a symbol that we are connected, not only to our heritage, but to each other. While it is just a small thing, calling someone Didi, it highlights our sisterly bond.
Didi, Akka, and Sister are words with different underlying meanings for every person and every relationship. Being called “Akka,” or “big sister,” while I was at Sahasra Deepika really meant something to me. It meant that me and the girls I met at Sahasra Deepika were truly connected. I had never experienced something so meaningful in such a short amount of time in my life.
The feeling of a sisterhood is exactly what I took away from my visit to Sahasra Deepika. I loved exchanging stories with Nagashree, learning from Kavya, and laughing with Triveni. It was not only these small interactions that impacted me though. They told me about their world and shared their past. It was their resilience in life and openness to share their experiences that left me feeling inspired. I immediately felt that we shared a bond: a bond centered in a love for education and a will to fight and work until girls around the world are given what they deserve. When I left Sahasra Deepika, I was not only honored to be a part of an organization like this, I was honored to have met each and every girl and left empowered to do what I could to make a difference.
Now when I hear the word sister, new associations float around in my mind. I think of the girls at Sahasra Deepika. I think of the bond I share with them even though we are miles apart. I think of the difference that we will make in this fight for girls’ education. Mainly, my visit to Sahasra Deepika taught me that the fight for girls’ education is not being fought for the girls at Sahasra Deepika, it will be fought with their efforts as well. They are intelligent, witty, funny, and creative. We all bring different qualities to the table and it is with inclusiveness and an open mind that we will be able to create the biggest difference. It is together, girls around the world, that we will make a change.
My name is Neha Mukherjee and I am 17 years old and in 12th grade at Episcopal Academy in Pennsylvania. I was born and raised in the United States, but like to keep strong ties with my Indian heritage. I have a passion for community service, especially in regard to education, and am proud to be a Youth Ambassador for Sahasra Deepika Foundation for Education.