Travel Spotlight

Giving Back in Mumbai: Akanksha

To the thousands of kids growing up in India’s slums, Akanksha—whose logo is appropriately that of a rising sun—is the brightest hope in their lives. Started twenty years ago by an eighteen-year-old college student, the program consisting of schools and extracurricular activities provides a reprieve from the kids’ daily hardships. It all began in a donated Mumbai church basement, with volunteers teaching art, English, values and self-esteem to young children who came in from the city’s slums. As the Akanksha children got older, the organization flourished and staff started to help the kids with schoolwork, passing standardized tests, applying for scholarships and honing their marketable skills for the professional workplace.

To date, Akanksha has educated over 6,000 kids in 40 extracurricular centers and thirteen schools. Today the organization teaches over 4,000 enrolled children who boast an extraordinary 95 percent completion rate of secondary school. Akanksha kids have gone on to university and to become professionals and leaders. One of the many touching signs of the programs’ importance and success is the number of volunteers who are themselves Akanksha alumnus–currently there are 32 graduates working with the organization.

For most of India’s slum children, the Akanksha program is the surest path towards a real future and breaking the cycle of poverty. Through providing one-on-one attention and love, the organization manages to affect change for thousands of kids. Everyone involved in the organization–from the volunteers and teachers to the students and alumni–live and work by Gandhi’s famous saying: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Published onDecember 20, 2012

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