In an endeavour to enlighten the lives of underprivileged children in the remote villages of Ladakh, 17-year-old Ananya Saluja  volunteers to teach them every year during her summer breaks. After the hard work of two years, she has finally managed to raise funds for the cause.  She has been instrumental in collecting an amount of Rs 10 lakh which will be utilised towards providing functional playgrounds and to build libraries for these children.

Ananya is a student of class 11 in The Shri Ram School, Gurugram.

What inspired Ananya?

Ananya’s foray into teaching started when her school introduced a community service programme in its curriculum which prescribed that students teach underprivileged children.

“It took some time to get comfortable with the children, since our cultures, environment and the level of exposure to the outer world were completely different. But once we got past that initial unfamiliarity, we found a very special connect beyond all these differences. After returning, I realised that there was a strong bond between us that kept tugging at me,” Ananya said, TOI reports.

The experience left an indelible mark on Ananya and motivated her to continue her efforts.

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How it all began

A former teacher in her school, Sujata Sahu, motivated Ananya and she got to know about the 17,000-ft Foundation. “After approaching the Foundation for volunteering opportunities, I decided to go to Ladakh,” she said.

Ananya Saluja

Since that day she has felt responsible for the kids and their future.

“During the time of the program, I really got close to my girls (I was teaching in Leh). The happiness on their faces after having understood a concept was worth anything in the world. I just knew that I didn’t want to stop at that,” she says.

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The never-ending passion

Ananya visits remote villages in Leh and Ladakh during summer. She even taught the children of Liktsey, Turtuk and Tialing in Leh district in 2015 summer and in 2016, she organized a workshop in another village Matho in Leh. Besides making lives better for these kids in the remote villages, she also helped setting up a playground there. According to the determined teen girl’s agenda, this summer, she will conduct a workshop in Kargil and will be setting up a library there too.

Ananya Saluja

The fundraising story

Within a span of just 2 years, Ananya made difference in over 600 hamlets and 1,000 government schools. The day she realised that these regions need more than just a visit every year, she took up the big step of crowdfunding to help the children.

“I had seen the incredible work the NGO was doing and since I couldn’t give my time more than a few weeks every year, I decided to help in other ways that I could. I decided to help them raise money to expand their reach beyond Leh district and set up libraries in the Kargil district of Ladakh,” she said.

An elated Ananya said, “I have managed to raise funds for 19 libraries so far. This is an ongoing effort and I hope to raise as much money as I can for my kids in Kashmir.”

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Her Blog reads:

Hello! My name is Ananya Saluja, and I’m your average 17-year old girl from New Delhi. I study in the 11th grade at. I volunteered during my last two summer vacations in Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, teaching children in the schools of remote villages through the 17000-ft Foundation.

Volunteering in Ladakh, staying in homestays, eating the local food, imbibing the local culture and customs, teaching and playing with the children was an absolutely amazing experience, but it also presented many challenges that I had not entirely anticipated.

Spending two consecutive summers in Ladakh has not only taught me so much about the joy that doesn’t come from the things we have but also how to use whatever we do have to the best of our abilities and find happiness and contentment in it. It was quite eye-opening to see how the Ladakhi people effortlessly achieve that which we strive and aspire for – leading a life in harmony with the environment.

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We wish Ananya good luck for more such future endeavours!

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Feature Image Credit: TOI

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