Getting ready to be the change I wish to see!

“We cannot go backward to a past form of our being, but we can go forward to a large repossession of ourselves in which we shall make a better, more living, more real, more self-possessed use of the intervening experience”- Sri Aurobindo Ghosh

Sri Aurobindo spoke these words in 1920 in the context of Indian culture being faced with external influences. However, I feel that these words have moved me to reflect on myself as an individual going into this fellowship. I chose this path of service purely hoping to change people’s lives for the better. Through college and internships I kept building on what I learned and saw places that I was familiar with in a new way. As I think about my next 10 months of life as a part of the fellowship, I dwell on some of these past experiences. The troubles I faced during them and the many questions about the actual ability to change lives as merely a 22-year-old individual are easily pushed away by the many successes achieved by the memories of an innocent smile and a thankful hug from a little child. I am nervous about being in a completely unfamiliar city and maneuvering my around but pumped with excitement to be out there doing something meaningful. Something that has always kept me going is the thought that ‘every drop makes the ocean’. With this fellowship I wish to add many more drops to ocean and do every bit I can to help the community that I will be working with to create a lasting change.

I hope to learn about Calcutta Kids work as an organization, their approaches and the community that they work with. I would like to experience working with the professionals in the field of public health in India and understand the workings of health policy in India. I long to have many moving experiences with people I work with in the office and outside. I also hope to share these experiences with all the different fellows and learn from them and the past experiences they bring with them. All in all I hope to do as much I can to help the organization and slum communities to create change, as I already know that I will be learning so much from them and they will have a life changing impact on me.

Sriya got involved with the concept of social justice at Brandeis Unviersity, where she double majored in "Health, Science, Society & Policy" (HSSP) and biology. This linked well with her goal of wanting to work in the health sector in India. She had lived in Mumbai for most of her life but, during the summer of 2009, she had her first experience of venturing into urban slums Sagam Nagar slum area on a university trip. The following summer, Sriya returned to India and volunteered with an NGO called the Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action (SNEHA) in Mumbai. Sriya also interned with Observer Research Foundation, Mumbai on a project to outline the various mental health policies in India and did a case study on the M.B. Barvalia Foundation in Mumbai. She would also like to use art forms like theatre and photography as a means of creating awareness.

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