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A sneak peek into Psychology Student Upasana Ravikannan’s book

“The Path Chose Us” captures the journeys of four ardent accomplishers who made exceptional changes that all of us distantly hope for. Here's an extract

My GoPaadhai journey started two years ago. I have often acknowledged my privilege and hence have always wanted to help children from less privileged backgrounds. One might wonder how someone like me could bring a significant change in society. My school HLC International thought otherwise. They believed in my abilities and forgot about my disabilities. Yes, I am like any other young adult, although wheel-chair bound, and with Cerebral Palsy.

HLC is a social incubator, and one of its initiatives is Karthavyam –a diploma in social public problem-solving. As part of this initiative, I happened to visit Assefa School at Pooriambakkam. Here, I interviewed a few children, many of whom said they wanted to become police officers, computer engineers, and teachers. I noticed they were not fortunate to have the same kind of education and resources as I did. This made me think. I am a student of an institution that believes that everybody can be a changemaker. So, I took my baby steps to explore the possibilities of helping and bringing better quality education to rural areas. But I had no idea what to do, so I parked it somewhere in my head. I had bigger parking problems.

Much later, my music teacher Seetha aunty told me about a fascinating project at Assefa School in Cuddalore. That project was called Kanavu (dream). I was excited. I started my research and decided to help them. We had the same goals and values. I reached out to a friend working in that school. She informed me about their requirements for stationery and teacher training. I had found my calling. So, we joined our efforts and decided to spread the message to a larger audience. Some of my friends and I made info charts to display. We formed a small team of strong-willed youngsters.

Christmas is a time of giving, sharing, and chocolate chip cookies. In December 2018, I decided to spend my vacation raising funds for the Kanavu project. I approached my well-wishers in my apartment community. Dolly aunty and Ashok uncle supported me immensely in spreading the word. Ananth, a teammate, and I spoke about the project at the Christmas gathering. Our team raised significant funds for teacher training at the many Kanavu schools across Cuddalore by year-end. It was a Christmas Miracle indeed!

The New year began on a sweeter note. One of my friends at school surprised me by taking my initiative to his apartment. His thoughtfulness overjoyed me. We invited the community to attend our presentation, and soon our campaign went door to door (viral as some would call it). We begged; we borrowed; we almost stole. No, we did not have to! People from all over donated generously, in cash and kind- books, stationery, etc. We were able to fulfill the resource requirement for the Kanavu project by June 2019.

On June 22, 2019, my friend Arjun (a foodie at heart) and I, interacted with the students of a Kanavu school in Cuddalore. He says he came for the free food, but I knew his heart was in the right place. It was a heartwarming and memorable experience for both of us. During our interaction, a ninth-grader shared that she would like to be like me one day. That is when I realised that my team and I were creating a Paadhai (path) for all dreamers like ourselves. So, we aptly named our team “GoPaadhai”.

This is an extract from The Path Chose Us, published with permission from the author.

Study at Ashoka

Study at Ashoka