Jun 06, 2024

My journey: Transforming lives through Abhyudaya

Sonakshi Anand, PGPM 2023  

I am thrilled to share my journey with Abhyudaya, an initiative by SPJIMR committed to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4: Quality Education. Abhyudaya played a vital role in transforming the educational landscape for underprivileged children, whom we affectionately called ‘Sitaras’. It helped these children realise their potential by providing comprehensive educational opportunities that catered to all aspects of their personalities. Throughout the year, Abhyudaya conducted various development programmes, including Sunday classes and winter/summer camps, offering a wide range of activities.

In addition to these activities, last year, while doing my Development of Corporate Citizenship (DoCC) course, I had the privilege of being involved in a new initiative, the Design Thinking Challenge. This effort aimed to help the Sitaras solve problems using a design thinking approach, understanding societal challenges beyond traditional discussions. When we started this journey, I remembered our initial discussions with the Abhyudaya team. We were nervous yet excited about this new experiment. Over the past days, working with these young learners, I was constantly amazed by their potential and curiosity.

This journey opened our eyes to the raw talent and adaptability of these children, making it a mutual learning and discovery experience. The goal was to teach them design thinking and impart our classroom learning to them, enabling them to solve community issues with innovative ideas. One striking observation was how quickly the Sitaras picked up the concepts of design thinking and applied them to their surroundings. They identified various community issues, such as inadequate street lighting, waste segregation problems, and a lack of resources for sports, arts, and music.

However, the common challenge they all decided to tackle was water scarcity. Using design thinking frameworks, they proposed impactful solutions, including awareness campaigns through posters and skits, showcasing a deep understanding of their community’s needs and the power of creative, practical thinking. For the future roadmap, we came up with the idea of collaborating with SPJIMR’s Entrepreneur Lab to tap into its resources and develop prototypes based on the students’ ideas.

This initiative wasn’t just about imparting knowledge; it was a two-way learning experience. I learned as much from the Sitaras as they did from us. Their resilience, eagerness to learn, and determination despite the struggles they faced inspired me to tackle my challenges. Sharing my journey with friends and colleagues, the common sentiment was that these kids were destined for great things if given proper guidance. I couldn’t agree more. I hope that, in some small way, my involvement in their journey has left a lasting impact.

This experience was transformational for me. It changed my perspective on life, making me realise the ease with which we take many things for granted. We may not be able to change the circumstances in which people are born, but we can certainly make a significant impact in their lives through our actions. The 10-day journey with Abhyudaya was a testament to that belief, and I extend my heartfelt thanks to the DoCC team, Abhyudaya team and the SPJIMR PGPM team for this opportunity. It allowed me to contribute to society while significantly transforming my vision of life.

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