How it Began
The day after my 15th birthday, I peered out of an airplane window. My dad and I had just boarded the plane for a trip that's memories will be permanently ingrained in my mind. Eagerly anticipating landing in India's bustling capital, the next 18 hours in the air felt like an eternity. Little did I know, that the next time I would step foot in America, my world views would have grown by leaps and bounds. Over the course of the following three weeks, I learned more about myself, my culture, and our world than I ever thought possible.
Upon arrival in New Delhi, I was in awe of the energy. The colors. The people. The shouting. The traffic. The commotion. Everything intrigured me. Yet at the same time, an uneasy feeling built up inside as everywhere I looked, faces stared back at me. Faces of the lives who live on the streets. Children much younger than myself, spending their childhoods begging for money, instead of recieving an education and being carefree. I found myself attempting to wrap my mind around the wide-scale poverty literally staring me in the face everywhere I looked. I spend the rest of the drive from the airport considering how different is seeing the world's issues first hand, rather than in some "donate here" video.
My happiest moments from my time there are from when I made small steps towards equality. Forget about the trip - those are some of the happiest moments I have experienced in my life. Knowing that I contain the potential to effect someone's life positively, even if it may be just one person at a time, filled me with a comforting feeling - a feeling of control in a land of uncertianty. No matter how others around me were acting, I had the power to choose to be kind to anyone, even the overlooked people.
Walking though a vibrant street market, a small girl - only 12 years old - chased me down, pleading for me to purchase the colorful glass-bead necklaces that swung back and forth on her arm with every leap closer to me she took. She said that if I didn't take the necklaces, her family wouldn't eat that day. Her mother works on the streets of the market, stringing bead after bead by hand, before passing them off to her daughter. Instead of walking past the girl and thinking "its none of my business" that she was in that position, I knew in that moment I would make it my business to her, and other kids that grow up in her situation. After agreeing to buy the necklaces, her alarmed eyes softened, and a grin spread across her face. She selected a few more strands from her arm, and as she placed them around my neck, she said "for you didi [sister]"
As soon as I arrived home from India, nothing felt the same. Where were all of the cars? Where were the people? Where was the life? After being surrounded by extreme "in your face" poverty, I felt so out of place in such a clean area. I felt as if I was surrouned by people living their lives in a movie, oblivious to what millions of people are going through.
The first two days back were rough. When I went grocery shopping, I broke down crying at the sight of the small mountains of fruits and vegetables being taken for granted by the people around me. It was reverse culture shock in its finest.
I turned anger and frustration into positive action. Immediately, I created this nonprofit. I couldn't sit back and live my life, while all of the people I met live in drastically horrific conditions.