I have always been inspired by the commitment of philanthropic groups to social progress. When I was young, my family would often spend summer vacations at my uncle’s house. I witnessed from close quarters the day-to-day struggle of underprivileged communities within the vicinity of his house. I was moved by their plight and wanted to help them. I used to make small savings from my pocket money and buy chocolates/biscuits for the slum children. When I used to hand them the goodies, they would just stand still, speechless, but the expression on their face said it all. The seeds of Aahwahan Foundation were sown on that day. Throughout my life in college, I participated actively in fundraising campaigns for social causes and community service. Along with my friends, I would organize events to highlight the plight of women in society, right to education of children, rural development among others. This enabled me to understand how philanthropy would shape the country and influence the society’s future. Once we passed out from college and entered professional life, my friend’s moved away from their commitment towards service to society. Could not blame them, the pressure of life is such. However, I was determined to pursue the path of service. At the core, I have always been an optimist. I came up in my career the hard way. Coming from a humble background in rural Odisha, I turned my childhood passion for entrepreneurship into a successful business venture. Through sheer grit and determination, I progressively scaled an outstanding career path and moved into leadership positions. It is this entrepreneurial mindset combined with a genuine concern for society that fostered the launch of Aahwahan Foundation, with a specific role for reducing inequality and human suffering. Every month, I would set aside money from salary towards various social initiatives – for education, medical treatment, development of rural economy, etc. During this period, I realized that to continuously serve society, “Your purse can be small but your heart must be big”.
The scale of the humanitarian crisis in rural India is overwhelming. Vital education, health, water and sanitation facilities are either non-existent or ineffective. As the driving force behind Aahwahan Foundation, I am committed to working tirelessly to elevate the cause of rural population to the highest levels. I consider my organization as the voice of the rural population and champion of rural transformation. Through the various programs, the organization advocates the protection of human rights, rural education & healthcare, restoration of human dignity, empowerment of women, revenue generation through integrated farming, expansion of opportunities for personnel in rural areas and their participation in socio-economic development. Aahwahan Foundation’s strategic focus is on establishing new priorities for guaranteeing women an equal role in building a new society. Our agenda is to implement programs integrated with a policy of mainstreaming a gender perspective at all levels. We are convinced that the cycle of discrimination and disadvantage can be broken only through investment in human, social, and economic development.
For rural children to realize their right to education, schools must have the necessary infrastructure, technology and expertise to deliver quality education. The overall rural ecosystem must be transformed into a safe place and the rural population must feel valued which would improve their self-esteem. Therefore, acceptable hygiene and sanitation facilities, health and nutrition services, and policies that assure physical and mental health, safety, and security is paramount. To accomplish them, I have fostered collaborative relationships with community members, policy and decision-makers across all levels. I have always believed in bringing morality and ethics to the forefront while adhering to best practices for resource optimization. While representing Aahwahan Foundation, I would like to pledge our dedication to make positive changes and continuously gaining skills to become more useful and provide selfless service to the rural community.