Richa Srivastava from Canada shares with us her experience of visiting the Madhu & Rajkumar Nigam AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Girls in Kusumbi village, Unnao district, Uttar Pradesh. It was a touching experience for Richa in more ways than one – this was her first visit to India, and the Chatralayam had been donated by her grandfather in her grandmother’s memory.
“From a young age, I was raised in a household that taught me nothing but to always give back to the community. My grandmother, Madhu Nigam, was a pillar of strength for our family constantly caring for others before herself. With her passing, my grandfather decided to donate a hostel in her name to help under privileged girls receive their rightful access to education.
In January 2019, I took off with my close family members to India for the very first time, to celebrate the inauguration of a hostel in my family members’ name and take part in what can be described as one of the most momentous occasions in our life. The hostel, built in Kusumbhi village, Unnao district – a special place, close to my grandfather’s heart – houses local young girls who have an enthusiastic passion to learn. Their mentor, Swamini Tattvajnanananda Saraswati ji, devotes her heart and soul to the girls to ensure that they receive the best possible care, and guidance.
By residing in the Madhu & Rajkumar Nigam AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Girls, these children are able to access local schools while creating life-long relationships with their peers, teachers, and Swamini ji. Coming from a first world country, I was unable to fully fathom the magnitude of our actions until I witnessed the hostel with my very own eyes. From watching their creative drama skits to singing classical bhajans, their content smiles and curious eyes filled me with an astounding sense of fulfillment and moment of self-actualisation.
Witnessing philanthropy to this great extent left me awestruck, and I began to reflect on the truly important things in life. With broken Hindi and lack of familiarity with the country, I was hesitant about whether I would be able to interact with the children, and if we would be able to converse freely. However, none of this mattered when talking to the girls – with a combination of both Hindi and English, we engaged in meaningful conversation and I was able to see their individual, bright and bubbly personalities shine through. I encouraged them to pursue their dreams and ambitions, irrespective of how hard they may seem. I also instantly connected with one of the local teachers and, to this date, I communicate with her to inquire about the girls’ wellbeing and her own progression with graduate studies.
During our trip, I also had the opportunity to speak with some adolescent boys from a neighbouring Chatralayam that is also sponsored by AIM for Seva. On hearing their feedback about AIM for Seva, and their pronounced gratitude for the organization, my heart was full. They specifically mentioned that their lives would have been directionless if it wasn’t for the sponsors donating their time and money.
AIM for Seva further inspired some of these young boys to work for the organisation one day, so as to make a change in someone else’s life – just as we did. I am so incredibly thankful for AIM for Seva for giving us this opportunity to positively impact the lives of these young children.
Our journey to educate and empower rural India could have not been possible but for the support of countless donors, volunteers and other well wishers – both from India and overseas. Since 2002, AIM for Seva Canada has built 27 student homes in India, and the organisation supports over 600 students annually.